Poet Phyllis Webb initiated new ways of seeing into the cultural dark of Western thought. By blurring the axis between light and dark, she redefined in positive terms women's subjectivity and sexuality, which are traditionally assigned dark negative values. Seeing in the Dark includes perceptive discussions on a number of Webb's collections, specifically Naked Poems, Wilson's Bowl, Water and Light and Hanging Fire. Butling shows how Webb uses strategies of subversion, reversal and re-vision of prevailing traditions and tropes to facilitate seeing in the dark. She also provides a fascinating analysis of Webb criticism -- tracing it over the past thirty years and revealing a shift in critical paradigms. A chapter on biography includes intriguing archival material. Pauline Butling offers important new ways of reading one of Canada's finest poets. Seeing in the Dark is essential introductory material for the general reader and provides provocative penetrating analysis for literary scholars.
Pauline Butling is Instructor Emeritus, Liberal Studies, Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary.