Review of Sunrise Over Lake Ontario by Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews

Reviewed by Joyce Wayne

Di Sciascio-Andrews’ poetry reminds me of the Canadian nature poets who created the bedrock of the poetic tradition in this country. Archibald Lampman comes to mind and the way he commented on late nineteenth century social pretensions and manners by writing poetry about nature. In Sunrise Over Lake Ontario, I’m alerted to how close we still keep to the landscape, how it shapes our days, our moods, our meditations and our fears. In these sparkling, deceptively simple poems about the author’s beloved Bronte, once a small village west of the town of Oakville, and now amalgamated into the larger town, the raw power of changing seasons is once again given its prominence in poetry.

In the poem Premonition, she writes:

…it’s the wind that speaks

its voice a chill

of frozen skies to come

of ice already had

life’s delusions glorified

in the mind’s recasting

our life slipping away

as we fend of

another season of ice storm.

Unmistakeably, there is an undertone of menacing darkness in these poems. We often think of suburban Ontario, the 905 region as it is referred to, as a sterile stretch of ungainly suburban homes, a kind of cookie-cutter meaningless environment where life is dull and repetitive. Not so in Di Sciascio’s poetry. In her suburban environment

Doors will open

And voices will beckon everyone

From the darkening shadows

Of evening, as it begins to pour

Onto the lamp-lit driveways

Millions of them, unfurling

Like mute, black tongues.

It’s difficult to write good poetry about the suburbs, but as this poet draws deep into her own experience, she opens up a world where the cheery façade of 905 life is

exposed. This is Canada, as many of us know it: encapsulated by the harshness of the climate, along with the pervading distances and alienation of suburban living.

It is the endless winter day,

Nothingness looming blue shadows

From dark, empty windows

Of row upon row of suburban houses,

And branches madly swaying without rest.

This poem, “Midday Contemplation,” one of the strongest in the collection, sneaks up on the reader. “This is the view that kills,” the poet writes. This is Di Sciascio’s unique vision that gives voice to contemporary suburban life, the life that so many of us lead.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews is the host & coordinator of the Oakville Literary Cafe Series.

Her previous poetry publications include: Sea Glass, The Whispers of Stones, The Red Accordion, Letters from the Singularity and A Jar of Fireflies.

Josie’s poetry has been shortlisted for the Malahat Review’s Open Season Award, Descant’s Winston Collins Prize and The Canada Literary Review ’s Summer Poetry Competition. Her poetry has won first place in The Arborealis Anthology Contest and in Big Pond Rumours Literary E-Zine.

Her new collection, Sunrise Over Lake Ontario, is published in three formats:

-large coffee table size, hard cover with dust jacket, with text and colour photos on glossy paper (ISBN 978-1-38-972711-5 (100 pages) $140.00

-medium soft cover, coffee table size with text and colour photos ( ISBN 978-036-891448-5 ) ( 100 pages) $52.99

-and small, regular soft cover, book size with text only (ISBN 978-036-891438-6) (72 pages) $10.00


ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Joyce Wayne is the author of two novels, Last Night of the World and The Cook’s Temptation. She is a former editor at Quill & Quire and editorial director of non-fiction at McClelland & Stewart.