From Shore to Shoormal
From Shore to Shoormal ~ D’un rivage à l’autre
Poems by Donna Allard & Nat Hall
Broken Jaw Press

Two prolific poets/poètes share a fascination for language; an attention to minute detail lyrically explored to become worlds of their own; a geographical and spiritual connection to the Atlantic Ocean and its offshoot waterways…Donna Allard and Nat Hall combine their works, inspired and penned from their Shediac Bay (New Brunswick) and Shetland Island (Scotland’s northern archipelago) homes, to create a collaboration: From Shore to Shoormal (D’un rivage à l’autre).

Each poet embraces her own expressive style and observations, and yet their mutual bond is genuinely apparent throughout the entire tome. It is as if you can picture Allard and Hall standing each on her own shore or shoormal communicating to the other with timeless messages dug up from somewhere deep inside. Appropriately Hall writes in “Atlantic Home”:

Oh, wow, I found a bottle in the sea.
Water-washed words,
it spoke of shores,
my horizon can imagine…

From Shore to Shoormal transcends expected descriptions of natural landscapes to yield a cornucopia of themes: navigation and battles, heartache, memories and love, pollution and extreme weather, history, culture and livelihood. For instance, a whole story is told in Allard’s “Northwest Passage”. An excerpt reads:

like a Steven King novel, all roads leading to the wharf,
clogged with fog, dreamlike…

cigarette lit, deep sigh, a distant horn heard…
ball cap removed, reshaped

The fact the poems are presented in both English and French is a real treat; some are even written in the Shetland dialect, and others incorporate expressions of Hall’s home. Even without being fully versed in each language, it is intriguing to explore the changes in rhythm and sound, even slight meanings, when comparing the translations. It is equally satisfying to read each version aloud feeling your tongue move in novel ways to produce melodious or elegiac tones.

Hall writes that words hide in stones. Both poets have successfully quarried verse and visions for many a reader—perhaps while sitting on their own shoreline—to enjoy and ponder. ~ Michelle Brunet

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