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Reviews | Reviews | Nora Drutz

Zen Forest, review by Nora Drutz, Canadian Book Review Annual

     In the Zen religion, truth can be obtained by self-knowledge and introspection, leading to an intuition of the principles underlying the universe. In the "Zen Forest" of experience, Zonailo, through her own introspections and meditations, reveals these truths, the individual as past of the universal harmony. She deals with such elemental truths as life, love, death, rebirth, and the afterlife. An event or scene from nature, such as a sunny afternoon at the beach, is often the starting point for philosophical abstractions. Zonailo deals with opposites: darkness/light, death/rebirth, etc. Elements of nature symbolize rebirth and continuity. Light symbolizes creation and love. Water represents our primordial origins, a place of buoyance and freedom. Air represents constraint, an ambience where we languish. According to Zonailo, we are alone in the universe, bereft of religious consolation. "We move towards embrace or toward space / In between, nothingness." She doubts the Elysian Fields, but wonders about the Revelation. We are "brave and forlorn...traveling / toward some kind of destination... We're surrounded by danger, / poised on the edge / of extinction or discovery, / waiting for revelation. / Will the same flowers bloom / in our afterlife?" Love and human relations are our only salvation.

     Zen Forest is not a dry and arid book. It is rooted in the here and now, on the beaches and Marine Drives of Vancouver. There is a muted and delicate feeling to the work: "Grey sea grass," "muted river tones," "pale ghostly flowers," "pale pink tulips / with tongue coloured petals," "rain clouds... obscuring the sharp outline of mountain." Her style is spare, clear, simple, and intimate, as if she were having a private conversation with the reader. Sometimes the message is too delicate, too simple, a little banal. However, for the most part, there is an immediacy and power to the work. One comes away profoundly moved.

Copyright by Nora Drutz:, 2004. | Reviews | Nora Drutz
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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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