About the book
- Shortlisted for the QWF A.M. Klein Poetry Award
“Written with a tough intelligence and a bracing earthiness, Swimming into the Light tells a poignant story that brings together three generations in the land of Souaid’s ancestors. The book manages to graft the sensibility of a contemporary North American woman struggling with infertility to a delicate search for distant roots.” —Montreal Gazette
Swimming into the Light is a sequence of poems charting a woman's struggle with infertility and her entry into motherhood through the back door of international adoption. The book traces these events in a connected narrative, from her frustration and despair over infertility to the uncertainty of international adoption and rescuing a new life from a war-torn country, and finally to the quiet reflections on motherhood. Shortlisted for the QSPELL A.M. Klein Poetry award, Swimming into the Light has recently been translated into French and published by Écrits des forges as La fille au bord de l'eau.
About the author
Carolyn Marie Souaid has been writing and publishing poetry for over 20 years. The author of six books and the winner of the David McKeen Award for her first collection, Swimming into the Light, she has also been shortlisted for the A.M. Klein Prize and the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Much of her work deals with the bridging of worlds; the difficulty, perhaps the impossibility of it, but the necessity of the struggle. She has toured her work across Canada and in France. Since the 1990s, she has been a key figure on the Montreal literary scene, having co-produced two major local events, Poetry in Motion (the poetry-on-the-buses project) and the Circus of Words / Cirque des mots, a multidisciplinary, multilingual cabaret focusing on the "theatre" of poetry. Souaid is a founding member and editor of Poetry Quebec, an online magazine focusing on the English language poets and poetry of Quebec.
The tests don't matter, not the icy probe
of his finger, not the flood of purple dye into
the beaten bag of my womb, nothing matters
but the promise of a would-be fetus, fragile
as the wobbling foal
in barn light.
In his lab, bits of women
float in flasks like grains of Aspirin
in a chaos of ginger ale. The one bitter pill
of their lives.
They line up at his door—
their shaman, their priest, God, whatever—
thumbing magazines, eyeing one another, eyeing
his diplomas, like glittering icons on the wall
waiting to see who won, who failed
whose experiment took, whose didn't
they'll all be back next month for more tests
more consultations, they'll lean across his desk
opening their bodies to him
praying for mercy.
The Fertile Crescent
in a cobbler's doorway
cross-legged with their baskets
of eggs & vine leaves
eyewhites, a dull glaze
babies in their laps
like steaming loaves of bread.
Death is a distant country to them
a great, green curve of land
where ancestors wait unburdened—
mosaic of upturned faces
like golden plates of fruit
in the sun.
“Swimming into the Light travels from Canada to Lebanon, infertility to adoption, personal aridity to an oasis of plenitude. Souaid celebrates the life force which, one minute, destroys and in another leaves you gasping at its fecundity and embracing a…” >>
— Gary Geddes
“Written with a tough intelligence and a bracing earthiness, Swimming into the Light tells a poignant story that brings together three generations in the land of Souaid's ancestors. 'He's kind of an embodiment of both my future and my past,'…” >>
— The Montreal Gazette
“This is important new work which engages themes of fertility and female sexuality with candour and courage. Souaid writes a poetry to savour, as fresh, as unexpected in its textures and tensions as 'the marriage of gin and Juicy Fruit.'” >>
— Mary di Michele