Toronto Star

Little Red By Kerry Gilbert Mother Tongue Publishing, 106 pages, $19.95


In her third poetry collection, Kerry Gilbert invokes the story of Red Riding Hood as a frame for exploring the dangers children face and the fears of parents who worry about keeping them safe. In part, the book is a contempora­ry recasting of the classic folktale: Scarlet is warned by her mother “hold your phone close…avoid alleys/don’t make eye contact” and the wolf is a predatory exchange student from Germany who stirs a date-rape drug into her drink. The Vernon, B.C. poet juxtaposes passages on this overarchin­g theme with poems of parental anxiety about other threats, ranging from car accidents to wildfires. Even the sound of sirens in a suburb “where front doors are double locked/and rooms are babyproofe­d” evokes alarm. “I see story in details,” Gilbert writes; and indeed, many of the poems bristle with stark, unsettling images, such as “a used condom found/at the edge of an elementary school.”

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