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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Death at Quebec by Donald Gutteridge is exquisite, a collection that can only be described with superlatives. The poems are a gorgeous offering for readers who enjoy poetry, with themes that appeal to the human spirit and our spiritual sense. What immediately strikes the reader as they start on the first poem is the beautiful rhythm — fast and musical. The poet employs very short lines and allows a river of life to flow through them. Some of the poems tell a story of an encounter, a missionary journey. But then, what happens when a missionary arrives with his words in a land to preach to people who are thought to be living in darkness and the desert just to discover “These faces bright with summer innocence...” and a humanity and a secret joy that is peculiar to them?
The poems are powerful, imbued with strong imagery, like “to a last / syllable / of blood...” Here is one of the stanzas that capture the author’s ingenuity in conjuring powerful imagery: “I’ve seen the / slick of my blood / on dead rock: / berry-juice for / lewd tongues, / wandering bear (or sun) / to lick.” Donald Gutteridge is a gifted poet who makes the reader feel things that are abstract. He takes those intangible feelings and writes them into objects and things that readers can touch and feel. The poems deal with spiritual themes and humanity and I particularly enjoyed the poet's reflections on his own humanity and how it connects him to everyone else: “I am a man/ like any man...” In our encounters with others, what takes precedence is our humanity, the fact that the same blood runs through our veins and that our joy can be shared. Death at Quebec is a delightful collection, with each poem leaving the reader satisfied.