Heidi Garnett’s Phosphorous is a poignant assertion of the ubiquitous nature of personal history.
Summoning the spirits and voices of those who suffered and endured the torments of Nazi Germany in World War II, Garnett relocates their moments of despair and suffering into poems of lament and reprieve. While family history simmers in the fragments of what is known and what isn’t, the unshakable knowledge of “skulls knitted together at the margins” informs the present. In all the rituals of immigration to Canada, and the journey west, and in the celebrations of acceptance, hard work and safety, the memories of the past are never far away. Through these biographical poems Garnett reminds us that though we “try to keep our distance” from the loss, pain and suffering of our histories, we cannot escape “the hooked branch that grafts the past/to now”.