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Open Slowly by Dayle Furlong

Open Slowly by Dayle Furlong begins with poems steeped in Spring imagery and the unfolding blossoms of that season.  For instance, “She Seeks Beauty” is like a flower beginning as a bulb, growing, and releasing the beauty of its petals like a surprise ending.

She Seeks Beauty (page 11)

She seeks beauty everywhere
foraging for flowers in fog
as the metallic din of machinery bordering
the park clangs and disturbs — she dislikes
comments we make about the weight of bulbs
all they have to do is sit, look pretty, and breathe
in truth, they’re fibrous, sturdy, necessary for life.

She’s culpable as any, flesh covers bone
like a clenched fist
taut in sections, ample in others
the weight of water and salt,
breath noxious

she tells us flowers deceive like a woman
warns us to watch out for the men hiding behind them

they cast shadows on sun
etch their place
on earth, bodies pyramids
of accomplishment.

While we sit pretty and still, necessary.

However, there seems to be a sinister undercurrent or a blatant dark side that emerges in some of these poems, illuminating the truth that nature is not all beauty and peace, but also darkness and violence.  Furlong’s lines are not abstract mysteries, but the poems as a whole reveal a mystery or hidden truth that causes readers to rethink their initial impressions at the beginning of the poems.  In a way many of these poems discuss the impermanence of memory and the past, those people, places, and events that we think we will always remember, but that grow fuzzier with time and blur into nothingness.

From Lazy Eye (page 30)

like the faces I meet in the street —
the people in my life
mere puddles waiting to evaporate
right before my eyes.

There are three sections to Open Slowly:  Impossible Permanence; Tonic & Brevity; and Litany of Desire.  While the first section deals with the impermanence of memory and people and events, the second section wallows in that impermanence, dunking the reader fully into memories that are previous and filled with not only joy and passion, but regret.  Readers will note a reluctance in the narrator to leave the past behind and jump into the present.  It continues with the theme of opening blossoms in spring, clinging to the protection of the bulb but eager to emerge.

From Hooks (page 45)

Little fish on hooks
gulp and cry
worms will die
but you keep me dancing
on a line
not hanging exactly
but hoping for their return.

Protection melts away and the darkness emerges, taking hold of the reader and drawing blood and fear from within. Furlong’s nature images serve not only the light but the dark in these poems, easily turning poems upside down and inside out.  In the final section, there is a violence in the passion between the narrator and the men and the narrator and children, but not violence in the sense of harm, but in terms of emotion.  A passion rampant and uncontrollable.

Open Slowly by Dayle Furlong is a mesmerizing collection of poems that search for the beauty in everything, but does not always find it.  Rather than dwell on the darkness in nature — human nature — each poem pushes beyond those moments to seek out the light and the beauty that can come from it or in spite of it.

Copyright Liz Martin

About the Poet:

Dayle Furlong studied English Literature & Fine Arts at York University. Her poetry & fiction has appeared in Kiss Machine, The Puritan, Word & The Voice. She works as a literary publicist and has worked as a screenwriter’s assistant for the Showcase television series Slings & Arrows. Her debut collection of poetry, Open Slowly was published by Tightrope Books in spring 2008.  Check out her interview with Rob McLennan.

This is my 3rd book for the 2011 Wish I’d Read That Challenge.


This is my 5th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.

This is also my 2nd book for the 2011 Fearless Poetry Exploration Reading Challenge.

  • Pingback: New review of Open Slowly | Tightrope Books Blog()

  • bookworm

    This sounds like a nice collection. I really like She Seeks Beauty.
    bookworm´s last blog post ..TGIF- Enjoy Your Weekend

    • I think you’d like others in this collection as well. It was well put together.

  • Serena I know I can always turn to you for new poets! I really like these – especially Lazy Eye. I’m assuming that was an excerpt right?
    I haven’t been reading as much poetry lately and I miss it. Thank you for the reminder to look for new poems.
    iliana´s last blog post ..Snow Day

    • I really enjoyed this collection, and yes, “Lazy Eye” is only an excerpt.

  • Glad you enjoyed this collection. I’ll have to revisit my review because I remember liking it but that’s about it. 🙂
    Anna´s last blog post ..Guest Post- Karen V Wasylowski- Author of Darcy and Fitzwilliam