Openwork and Limestone (Downloadable PDF)
by Frances Boyle
Openwork and Limestone is a finely-wrought and potent new poetry collection from one of Canada’s most compelling poets. In Frances Boyle’s powerful vision, the rituals of contemporary women are seen through the lens of Celtic warrior queens, and goddesses. The natural and created worlds – as they run, as Boyle says, “through the funnel / of my palms” – are a constant source of awe and woman’s strength. A reverie that allows in the brutality of history and prehistory, as well as the joys. “The unconscious / swimming upward. What won’t stay buried rises / through rocks, rough-ridden and rusty.” Boyle’s Openwork and Limestone turns inward and outward at the same time, telling our multifarious collective human story so that it feels like our own intimate family history.
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Frances Boyle’s previous books include the poetry collection This White Nest (Quattro Books 2019), Tower, a novella (Fish Gotta Swim Editions 2018), and Seeking Shade (The Porcupine’s Quill 2020), a short story collection which won first place for short fiction in the Miramichi Reader’s Very Best! Awards and was a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Award and a ReLit Award. Her writing has been published throughout North America and internationally. Born and raised on the prairies, Frances lives in the historic Lindenlea area of Ottawa, with her partner Tim and a large and slightly eccentric standard poodle. Openwork and Limestone is her third poetry collection.
Frances Boyle’s Openwork and Limestone is aptly named, full of poems that are bare and searing, and rooted in place and time. These imagistic poems allow the reader-listener to journey with the speaker across various landscapes, questioning and searching. Running through this book is the tension of a body caught between cogitation and wildness: in these pages is a longing to feel fully alive in the body – a yearning to be with and know the world intimately, physically, viscerally. Here too are reflections on relation: mother and daughter, daughter with father, sister to sister. Precious here is a way for us to move through this complex and fleeting world: “Balance / eludes me until I begin / to feel part of a larger mass / ages of river-work.”
~ Doyali Islam, author of Heft
In Openwork and Limestone, Frances Boyle collapses the past and present to allow myth to inform lived experience and magic to mingle with family history. At these intersections “[a] stitch in rhyme keeps time.” Boldly intuitive, Boyle’s poetry thrums with kinetic energy while offering narratives that branch out with considerable vision.
~ Jim Johnstone, author of Infinity Network
Art, close-work, sites of memory, and mothering: with patterned reflection and recognition, the poems of Openwork and Limestone share lyric forms that move across time and space in conversation with nature, kin, and the ancients with ceremonial care. Empathetic and insightful. Roaming, embodied, and firmly with the earth.
~ Hoa Nguyen, author of A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure