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This review is taken from PN Review 246, Volume 45 Number 4, March - April 2019.

Cover of Vision on Platform 2
Leah FritzCanadian Poet
Nancy Mattson, Vision on Platform 2 (Shoestring Press) £10
The first part of Vision on Platform 2 is devoted to Nancy Mattson’s childhood in the countryside of Western Canada. What it was like to be there and what it was like to move, or have to move, to London is important to the poet’s life, and the negatives are presented in the first part of this collection. She objects to a house called ‘5212’: ‘I wish it could be Cherryville Cottage, but no / I’d have to name it Chokecherry House’:

My elementary fingers trace letters,
birth and death numbers,
sharp cuts into smooth slabs…

These memories wind up with ‘I can subtract in my head.’, an index to her age at the time this happened. In ‘Widow, Marooned’ she tells how a flood sent them away:  ‘I am thirsty / for the dustbowl of my youth.’

Here Mattson is singing. She sometimes tries not to, but much of the poetry gets there, anyhow. She quotes Anna Akhmatova, and then writes about her death:

Bury your fear that she was lost in a field
Trust foxes and deer to visit her grave
Assume that nettles and thistles adorn it
    and that snow and wind sing antiphons.

There is something of a suggestion here that Mattson holds tightly to her Christian beliefs. This is followed by a poem called ‘Threads for a Woman Priest’. Mattson is also a feminist, and this poem, in turn, is followed by one called ‘Miracle in Essex ...

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