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Heather Grace Stewart

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Where the Butterflies Go
by Heather Grace Stewart   

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Publisher:  Lulu ISBN-10:  1435712021 Type: 


Copyright:  February 2008 ISBN-13:  9781435712027

Where the Butterflies Go

Where the Butterflies Go is Grace Stewart's first complete collection. "Whirlwind poetry that never hesitates: we need poetry like this." Sally Evans, poet and Editor, Poetry Scotland.

Sales surpassed Heather's initial goal; she continues to donate 50 percent of revenue from the sale of each book to Unicef's Gift of Education fund. Heather Grace Stewart ( is an author, poet, and photographer. Her poems have appeared in Canadian literary journals, international anthologies (Routes, Babylon Burning) e-zines, and the British small presses. Where the Butterflies Go is her first complete collection. Reviews:"Whirlwind poetry that never hesitates...always delightful and rarely what you expect. We need poetry like this." —Sally Evans, poet and Editor, Poetry Scotland. "Thanks to an exhilarating directness and a worked-for simplicity of language, not to mention a nicely self-deprecating sense of humour on occasion, this is a book full of sharply drawn images, honest poignancy and frank admissions."—Poet-Journalist Tom Phillips. "These poems have a humanity, a goodness, an almost other-worldliness about them." —Tony Lewis-Jones, Author of Anytime and nine other collections.

Professional Reviews

What Really Matters by Tom Phillips (UK Poet and Editor)
Arranged under three broad headings – ‘Pain’, ‘Growth’, ‘Family’ – Heather Grace Stewart’s Where The Butterflies Go gets at the nub of what it means to try and live in a world which appears to be passing by at an ever more astonishing speed and where what’s pumped out through TV and computer screens seems startlingly at odds with both the realities of ordinary, day-to-day existence and our more humane impulses and aspirations. It is a book of illusion, disillusion and, as it were, re-illusion, an acknowledgement of loss and the discovery of fragile compensations. The great risk for poetry like this, of course, is that it can come across as rather naïve, the losses too easily overcome, the compensations too easily found. That’s certainly not the case here. Thanks to an exhilarating directness and a worked-for simplicity of language, not to mention a nicely self-deprecating sense of humour on occasion, this is a book full of sharply drawn images, honest poignancy and frank admissions.
Take ‘Golden Dreams’, with its refrain of ‘Durango gold, Durango gold’ alluding to the Colorado gold rush and, by implication, the consumerist dream. Here, on a home-improvements shopping trip, Grace Stewart is overwhelmed by a different sort of ‘rush’, one of harsher realities: “We choose ceramic tiles/content,/while war rages/over the ocean,” she writes, with a telling nod at childhood song (“My bonny lies over the ocean”, too), before admitting, with an almost brutal honesty: “We care, but still go about our lives.” Only, of course, she’s not letting herself off that lightly – there’s homelessness, a government dedicated to preserving the status quo… By the end all that’s left, it seems, are “dark clouds/across this Canadian sky”.
The causes of such disillusion seem legion. There are poems here about the 1989 Montreal massacre (when fourteen women were gunned down at the Ecole Polytechnique), child-soldiers in Sierra Leone, disenfranchised women in Iraq, 9/11, beggars, poverty, domestic violence, divorcing couples, and a child mown down by a speeding driver. In the ‘Pain’ section of the book in particular, it seems a bleak, broken and violent world where the only option appears to be to “forget about/the fragile parts/and go on surviving”.
Grace Stewart, though, doesn’t forget those “fragile parts” – love, empathy, hope – and refinding them occupies the remainder of the book. In many ways, this is about celebrating simple, mostly domestic pleasures - the sight of bulbs in the garden coming into flower, the “butterfly kisses” of an unborn child in the womb, that child’s first steps, an embrace, “the shelter of my lover’s arms”, “the melting days” at the end of winter – but always with a persistent sense of their fragility and a refreshing down-to-earthness which locates these moments in the context of dirty washing, internet pop-ups, torn umbrellas and other irritations which “just won’t matter/100 years from now”.
In ‘My love picks me plums’, for instance, she accepts “bushels and bushels of dark juicy fruit” from her husband on her first anniversary, only to remember to “file this moment away in my mind/for some day when, in heated argument/I wish to throw plums at him”, while in ‘Forecast’, the hope she finds “hanging in the air” after a storm is simultaneously “just within my reach;/just outside our window”. Such ambiguity gives these poems their strength because ultimately these are restorative acts, finding and preserving moments of tantalising hope, sifting what really matters from what doesn’t and holding on. (Tom Phillips)

We Need Poetry Like This -Sally Evans, Poet and Editor
"I have just read Where the Butterflies Go, and I am converted to Heather Grace Stewart. Her extraordinary simplicity and directness may cause a raised eyebrow or two among the pedantic, but on she goes confidently towards the future, buoyed by her political intensity, her humour, her true feminism and her ability to select and record. It's a whirlwind poetry that never hesitates because it is always moving to the next thing it is going to say, which is always delightful and rarely what you expect. We need poetry like this." - Sally Evans, editor, Poetry Scotland.

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