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Beyond This Dark House: Poems
Guy Gavriel Kay
Penguin Canada, 106 pages

Beyond This Dark House: Poems
Guy Gavriel Kay
Guy Gavriel Kay was born in Weyburn and raised in Winnipeg. In 1974-75, he assisted Christopher Tolkien with the editing of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion. Guy Kay studied law at the University of Toronto and was admitted to the Bar in Ontario in 1981. He worked both as script consultant and principal writer for CBC Radio's award-winning series The Scales of Justice. He and his family live in Toronto.

Guy Gavriel Kay Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Lord of Emperors
SF Site Review: Sailing to Sarantium
SF Site Review: The Lions of Al-Rassan
Guy Gavriel Kay Tribute Site
Guy Gavriel Kay Interview

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

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If there is a single impossible thing in writing book reviews, it's writing a review of a book of poetry -- simply because poetry is so absolutely subjective, so utterly dependent on individual tastes. And those tastes literally range from dumbstruck awe to a reaction along the lines of, 'If the Secret Police picked me up, all they'd have to do is make me sit there and read poetry and I'd tell them everything they wanted to know...' In between those two extremes, there are the fine gradations -- the people who love classical sonnets are turned off by gimmicky modernistic stuff, and the people who like to think of their taste as post-modern and progressive tend to dismiss the older stuff as clunky and rhyme-heavy.

Guy Gavriel Kay is far better known for his fantasy masterworks than he is for any other aspect of his craft -- and yet it is as a poet that he had made his mark long before he met success as a novelist. Perhaps not enough people knew this, although I venture to guess that many suspected, given the lyricism that pervades his prose. Given that I think that Kay belongs in the first rank of writers of any age and any genre, and given also that I have a guilty secret that I love both reading poetry and writing it myself, I cannot help but giving this slim volume of Kay's poetry a very high score.

Kay's images are translucent, his poetry modern in form and yet with an instinctive and innate classicism which speaks to me. He just happens to paint pictures of places where I too have walked -- Tintagel, for instance -- and vividly invokes my memory of them through the prism of his vision. He writes a poem for J.R.R. Tolkien, and makes me think of the time I made the pilgrimage to Oxford to pay homage to that great man. In prose and now in poetry, Kay has a gift for making something real; reading his poetry is like lifting a seashell to one's ear and hearing the distant echo of the ocean where it was born. He writes of love, of legends, of people he knew, of places lost and rediscovered. These are things familiar to all of us. Our paths may be different but our landmarks, whatever form they may take for any individual person, are very much the same. We read Kay's poems and see ourselves. He may not have written about any one particular crossroad, but we recognise his description of it. He has that gift.

Beyond This Dark House is a book which may not appeal to everyone but it is proof that Kay is so much more than just another writer. He is a poet.

And I will continue to treasure his work.

Copyright © 2003 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves". When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Following her successful two-volume fantasy series, Changer of Days, her latest novel, Jin-shei, is due out from Harper San Francisco in the spring of 2004.


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