• Allie McFarland

Familiar. Earthy. Quiet. Frances Boyle’s This White Nest

Our third review dives into France Boyle‘s second poetry collection, This White Nest. Boyle’s poems have appeared in antilang. no. 3 as well as no. 4 – Succinct Speculations. Her work captures a sense of familiar, earthy quiet.

Familiar This White Nest draws on images familiar in two senses: they are commonplace, yet instill a strong sense of family that permeates the collection. Birds, trees, and relationships combine to form a subtle and nuanced take on what constitutes family. A singular speaker weaves through landscapes across Canada and gives these places the same attention she bestows on her companions—whether they are people or memories. While this speaker weathers stormy seas and the loss of her mother, the poems always call the reader back home. Back inside, to a place not necessarily safe, but familiar and forgiving, that extends to the yard and the lake of childhood.

Earthy Maple trees and finches, plucked apples and roses, it is impossible to find a poem in Boyle’s collection that does not hinge on and celebrate the recurring growth found in non-human entities. As the speaker negotiates ghosts, she acknowledges her connections to the earthly world, insisting that these phantoms, spectres, and fairies are also of the same dirt and wind she knows so well. In the truest sense of the words, This White Nest is rooted in the physical earth.

Quiet These poems offer observations of the quotidian with quiet certitude. “And so at last I climb” finds the speaker in her bed, cozy under a quilt as “cabin walls complain / as they brace against / the buffeting wind,” a familiar scene, but written with a pared-back language that allows the reader to hear the galloping wind and the creaks of the wooden walls that stand against it (19). The language calmly and self-assuredly relays a scene, a moment, a brief thought, without excess, and this creates spaces for the poems to breathe. To sigh. To communicate with each other in whispers.

- Allie McFarland

This White Nest was published by Quattro Books, Fall 2019

Copies are available at Chapters/Indigo, but we encourage you to contact your local independent bookseller first.

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