Barbara Elizabeth Mercer s latest volume of poetry ECHOES From CABBAGETOWN comes into the world in an era filled with crisis and hope, an era of both epiphanies and tragic denouement. What a moment for the birth of a slim volume of verse, with what boldness we as poets must take up our pens now and construct fragile phrases against a seeming onslaught of adamantly negative winds. But then too this is where poetry lives, where it best finds root and thrives - amidst contradiction and change, in short, within conditions of upheaval. Poetry is as such an ideal medium for expressing such a climate. And ECHOES From CABBAGETOWN seeks to transmit all of the uncertainties, instabilities, and yearnings of the times, but more importantly the subtle undercurrents, the breezes of change, the somehow reassuring inevitability of the mundane as a counterweight to the dizzying, upward swing in the heart as it catches upon a refrain singing promises that have yet to be realised. As such the very creation of ECHOES From CABBAGETOWN is a victory in its own right; Mercer s sparsely phrased constructions contain vivid images and movement alike, to be detected in the swift flow of transitions between the many thematic levels, making the reading experience a passage where associations abound. With subject matter spanning from racoons to global politics, there is above all hope here - and protest, informed by a touching vulnerability. All this perhaps best epitomised by the poem The Crack , the title an allusion to the financial crisis, which promptly delves into more private depths: Has anyone dared to look/Into the fathomless - deep darkness/To see the life/Struggling for breath/To reach the light. Mercer has dared, she has looked and she has written - in a voice as tremulous as it is determined, a voice ever searching for new beginnings to alight upon, absorb, and then refract through the light of a very personal poetic vision.