Guest Post by Jami Macarty
Heating the Outdoors, an intimate lyric written by Marie-Andrée Gill and tenderly translated from the French by Kristen Renee Miller, is a “love story like all others.” As a result, the poems balance precariously between “simple happiness” and “storm damage.” More pointedly, Gill writes: “love is a virgin forest / then a clear cut.” The reader enters at the “clear cut,” then follows Gill through three phases of her love story as she experiences break-up, objectivity, and rebound. Throughout the collection, there is the feeling that Gill is “writing to survive” after “turbulent intimacy.” Despite the colonization of her heart, there is “something” in her that “keeps a lamp on”; something beseeches “where do I even begin to switch off my hopes”? It may be hope that prevents acceptance and leads to the repetition of “old dramas” and “sex bombs reigniting” once again. The poems do not provide an easy answer, but they do reflect how the constant battle for a woman’s sanity and autonomy inside a love relationship is analogous to skating on thin ice. In Heating the Outdoors, Gill determines that the woman not “end up in an asylum,” but instead “seeking [her] place somewhere out on the trail” in the boreal forest. “Outside is the only answer I found inside,” she writes. Turning toward a new intimate, nature’s “aspen,” “elk,” “bright paths of snowflakes,” Gill, an Ilnu and Québécoise woman, begins to “feel worthy of its / voice” and her own.
Heating the Outdoors by Marie-Andrée Gill translated by Kristen Renee Miller. Book*hug Press, March 2023.
Reviewer bio: Jami Macarty is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by financial support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and by editors at magazines such as The Capilano Review, Concision Poetry Journal, Interim, Redivider, Vallum, and Volt, where Jami’s poems appear. More at https://jamimacarty.com/