DIANA BREBNER's first poetry collection, Radiant Life Forms, won the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for the best first book of poetry Published in 1990. Her second book, The Golden Lotus (Netherlandic, 90 pages, $9.95 paper), confirms her growing reputation as an accomplished poet.
In The Golden Lotus, Brebner explores the time-honoured subjects of the meaning of life, the Vicissitudes of love, and the wonders of the natural world. Formal and dignified, her work charts the delicate balance between the pain and the beauty of life. Many of the poems are sonnets, the form rejuvenated in Brebner's hands.
Brebner's language is rhetorical, and rather than working through image she works largely through repetitions and associations. Her use of rhyme, internal rhyme, and slant rhyme creates an incantatory effect and contributes to the poems' emotional intensity.
Brebner works well in the long form, and there are a number of extended sequences here. One sequence deftly and subtly explores child abuse, another charts the nuances of a summer canoe trip. The final poem in the collection, part of the series "Eleven Paintings by Mary Pratt," which is the best of the
extended sequences, concludes the book on an affirmative note, as the poet reaches beyond pain and failure to celebrate life and love:
So, up the rivers we go, wading
into fire, past the lilies, northern
and into the golden flames, all
believing something in flames is worth
("Bonfire of the River")