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Defying the Absurd in Lynda Monahan’s “Verge”


In a recent review for Transition, Mareike Neuhaus states that Lynda Monahan’s Verge is “a beautifully crafted reminder that writing, and arguably reading, for our lives is the closest we may ever come to defying the absurd”.

Neuhaus argues that this defiance is a principal theme in Monahan’s collection of poetry, calling it a “poetic journey into defying the absurdity of human experience through writing”. Verge confronts the reader with the sorrow of a woman who has lost everything, but refrains from making sense of this loss. Instead, the collection is concerned with how to make meaning in this sea of loss and meaninglessness, a struggle that Neuhaus compares to the existentialist philosophy of Albert Camus. Monahan achieves this overcoming through writing, “Monahan’s first-person narrator creates meaning through composing a series of poems that happen to become Verge – and she does so in spite of the lack of purpose in her life, which haunts the collection. Making the poem produces meaning, and arguably so does reading the poem”.

Referring to specific passages from the collection, Neuhaus discusses how “the narrator’s struggle doesn’t offer any hope but it does show perseverance in spite of loss”. The fox character, who speaks the poems to the narrator, becomes a key companion in this struggle. However, as the poems develop, it becomes clear that “the fox is the narrator’s inner voice telling her to write, making her revisit the past, thus putting her past to rest and finding peace”. As it becomes clear that the fox is a part of the narrator, the poems illustrate the principle that “writing is a solitary act but it may provide clarity, closure, an inner sense of peace. The narrator’s is a quiet rebellion: she perseveres, one word at a time”.

Lynda Monahan is a resident of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. She is the author of two other collections of poetry, Slow Dance in the Flames and What My Body Knows. Besides writing, she also facilitates a number of creative writing workshops. She is currently the writer-in-residence at the Victoria Hospital in Prince Albert.


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