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Pickle Me This

May 12, 2013

Arguments with the Lake by Tanis Rideout

arguments-with-the-lake…Let’s step now to these gathering places./Name them–our birthright, strung like beads/ on northern shores. Let’s lay claim to the stories/ on this lake, the aquatic murmur of what’s past/ what’s to come.

Oh, it’s become a bit of a pattern, hasn’t it, me falling in love with poetry that give voice to obscure figures from the past. This time it’s Tanis Rideout’s poetry collection Arguments With the Lake, which imagines a friendship/rivalry between Marilyn Bell and Shirley Campbell, two women who as girls were determined to swim across Lake Ontario just two years apart. Bell made it and became a legend, while Campbell disappeared into obscurity after two failures to complete her swim. Rideout imagines the connections which bind these two girls, the force which drew them both to the lake’s edge and made them attempt to be a part of history. As the book’s exquisite cover suggests, there is 1950s’ bathing-beauty glamour going on here with a particular Toronto bent–Sunnyside Beach and the Palais Royale. The poems also examine the darker forces of friendship, of womanhood, of what inevitably follows girldom, stardom. The lake itself is Rideout’s main character though throughout the book, speaking back to each of the girls’ arguments, enduring but ever-changing. From “The Fear of Silence”: “The shoreline changes more than its citizens. The city/ has leeched into the lake. Front Street really was the Front./ Fisherman docked at the market’s doors. It is as though/ we want to live in that water–press into it, fill it up,/ like empty hours filled now with digital detritus”.  I loved this book.

One thought on “Arguments with the Lake by Tanis Rideout”

  1. Kate S. says:

    It sounds great! Another one to add to my wish list…

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