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Reviews | Reviews | Stephen Morrissey

A Portrait of Paradise, review by Stephen Morrissey, Poetry Canada Review

     Carolyn Zonailo's A Portrait of Paradise is a very good, but uneven, collection of poems. The first poem, "Blue and Green," has obviously been worked on extensively, but if feels overworked. It lacks the freshness of many of her other poems. She is a very human poet, engaging and likeable. You can feel her presence in her work. She is a feminist who knows better than to flog her reader with her indignation at how women have been treated. There is a meditative calm, for example, in A Portrait of Paradise:

Only this wasp zeroing into
the circle of lamplight
to disturb like a thought
my wish to leave nature
exactly as I find it.

For Zonailo, life is based on trust; she expects the universe to unfold in a certain way and she is not let down. In "Planting Tulip Bulbs" she writes:

Of necessity I believe
that next spring
the red flowers
will rise up and be visible

     Her most feminist poems are a series of portraits of "female nudes." In these poems she works through a variety of roles that women play, from "earth-goddess" to the "single mother" from the "sex symbol" to the "diplomatic wife." It is here that A Portrait of Paradise has something Ford's By Violent Means could use: humour. One laughs with Zonailo's poems but that laughter doesn't negate the force and message of her work.

     A Portrait of Paradise is divided into four parts: Landscapes, Portraits, Songs and Mandalas. The Mandala section is a series of drawings and mandalas. Unfortunately, the reproduction is unsatisfactory and does not really work in what is otherwise a good book of poems.

Copyright by Stephen Morrissey:, 2004. | Reviews | Stephen Morrissey
Wave Goddess
The Wave Goddess
Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Zonailo attended ...
CZ is a visionary poet who writes with compassion and careful detail about the world she lives in.
GoddessThe Goddess in the Garden combines mystical insight and sensual language to evoke a timeless meadow where humans and deities play out eternal passions.
She draws on her study of mythology, astrology, and Jungian psychology, for a seemingly inexhaustible source of imagery.
There is a quality in her work which makes all her poems hers, but Zonailo’s style does differ. Compendium is a collection of short, lyrical poetry; Zone 5 of prose. Each book is an extension of her poetic exploration and a separate expression.
Over the years of sitting in Grant's Cafe or the Europa and talking poetry with Lewis Gretsinger, the questions have been asked: why write? what are you saying? what are your poetics?
Last Will and Testament
I give my soul to God.
I give my body to the earth.
I give my poems to posterity.
I give my spirit to tolerance.
I give my mind to the future.
Forthcoming Titles
The Land of Motionless ChildhoodThe Land of Motionless Childhood is a memoir of short stories by Carolyn Zonailo about growing up in Vancouver, and her Doukhobor heritage.
Photo Gallery
CZPictures of CZ from her 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.
Literary Papers
Spanning the years 1955 to 2005, the Carolyn Zonailo Papers holds, as nearly as possible, a currently complete collection of Zonailo's extant literary papers.
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