Carolina Read reviews The Invisible Girl by E.E. Nobbs
E.E. Nobbs’s debut collection inspires us to notice things and events in our lives that makes for poetry that sits us up. She opens with a sensitive but defiant voice from her childhood. In a beautifully crafted sequence, the theme takes us through the wonder and intimacy of growing up.
From the start, Nobbs’s shares her love of detail and the naming of things — drawing us in with all the senses to think a little deeper about times past. The atmosphere in the poem “Jim”, for example, takes us straight to young farm life in Prince Edward Island, Canada:
Jet, the old gelding, to the turnip cart, go down
to the woods by the creek – hauling
spruce and white birch seedlings the whole morning.’
This collection gives us poems from a true nature lover, the type that walks the woods every day and heeds to coincidences. They are articulated with a wonder to discovery and of wisdom that is rich in perspective. Poems including “Childless in the City” and “The Oceans are Dying” expose a knowing of aloneness that contrasts with the yielding into relationships that “Elmira Sweetheart” and “Casablanca” speak of with uplifting, humorous sentiment.
Using a playful imagination to deal with difficult, often painful themes offers the reader a welcoming way of seeing things. Whether this be dealing with age, garden slugs or enduring a Canadian winter – as in “Seasonal Affective Disorder” –
‘Now it’s January.
shrivelled. Now I’m sprouting
shoots – pale, hard, red-eyed. I’m etiolating
but I’ve nowhere to go…’
The poems keep returning us to this meeting place, where self meets other, be it ducks, sisters or universes – with the conundrum of the cohesion that lies between. There lies a tease towards a longing for things as they are and as they could be – as in the opening of “Rereading Anne of Green Gables” –
‘Anne Shirley! Will you please come back for me?
Tragically, I missed you at the station’.
Throughout The Invisible Girl, readers are invited into this question of the ‘here and there’ and the ‘want and can’t have’ themes in their own experiences. Through observation of the natural world and our place in it, any sense of separation is cleverly dissolved without too much sentiment – a talent which Nobbs’s brings to her poems with a perspective that suggests to me how Emily Dickinson wrote about the world. This brings us to reflect upon the title of this collection, and how personal a journey we are taken on, whilst also noticing the poems she’s selected to be the first and the last –
opening with a canter into identity in “All I Want is a Pony, and”
‘Dad won’t say he doesn’t have the time
for this – a daughter he’s hoped
would manage better.
……………………………..He won’t sell
the pony, this time – and this time I will learn
and closing with a freedom and wonder to the Self in “Seaweed”
‘I am fronds of green-brown dulse
— holding fast
stuck close on stone
You are flights of silver dolphins
— swimming fast
faring out to sea
This collection is a marvel of wit and surprise. It guarantees to fill your senses with a curiosity for life from whatever age you so choose to be. It is a book which could well become a companion when I feel in need of an invisible friend.
Midnight On The Pond
The snag tree,
old punk spruce
— an owl’s nest,
empty inside —
makes no sounds
when it crashes oddly
down like a shipwreck’s mast;
it falls on his dream’s paper birch canoe,
which disappears as if
it never were, while the two survivors
treading water [ Why don’t they dive? ] wait
and watch for the missing third —
who won’t resurface.
They forget what she
told them once:
A bird with moon eyes turning blue
Buy the book here
About E.E. Nobbs: I am a poet. Born in the decade of the last century when Elvis’s career was getting underway… And I live in Prince Edward Island, Canada, which is where I’ve spent almost all of my life, as an “Islander”. The prize for winning the Doire Press Second Annual International Poetry Chapbook Contest (2013) was the publication of my first poetry collection, The Invisible Girl which is available to order directly from me. It’s been a wonderful experience working with the great folks at Doire Press.
About Carolina Read: I work as a specialist Physiotherapist in learning disability in the NHS (22 years). I integrate many healing streams of influence into my work and life, from where I find my passion for words and their meaning arises. My greatest love is of the language that lives in all Nature, beyond our understanding and marvel.