Review of “River – Songs from the poetry of Allison Grayhurst”

Published in “Treehouse Arts” and “Natasha Ganes’s blog”, January 13, 2018


River – Songs from the poetry of Allison Grayhurst


Four book reviews by Ann Johnson-Murphree

Review of ‘The Longing To Be’:


“What can I say about Allison Grayhurst and her creativity that has not already been said…she is a prolific poet. Her poetry has touched my heart and soul,” Ann Johnson-Murphree, poet and author.


The Longing to Be Review


Review of ‘Pushing Through the Jelly Fire’:


“Another Grayhurst masterpiece, Allison’s work has inspired me to continue creating and reading poetry,” Ann Johnson-Murphree, poet.

pushing through the jelly fire review 2


Review of ‘The Many Lights of Eden’:


“I have been slow at responding to reviews for Allison Grayhurst due to summer’s busy days, however she brings life to each poem, heart to the images and everyone should have a collection of Grayhurst Poetry,” Ann Johnson-Murphree, poet.

The Many Lights of Eden review


Review of ‘For Every Rain’:

For Every Rain Cover 5

“Great collection, once again outstanding creativity,” Ann Johnson-Murphree, poet.

For Every Rain review


Amazon Author

UK Amazon Author Page:

Three book reviews by Bruce Ruston


“One of the best contemporary poetry books I have read and my favorite by Allison Grayhurst. I have this (The River is Blind) in paperback and find I come back to it often. I am very impressed that her poetry just oozes quality and in all ways gets my mind thinking. If you read poetry I highly recommend it, if you also write this is a great way to spend a couple of hours soaking in the quality and subject matters. The poems are spiritual and uplifting and I have never found any of her poems to be dull or depressing nor ever too hard to read. More life affirming each time I read one and I am always glad to have done so,” Bruce Ruston, poet, photographer, founding editor of The Poetry Jar.

River is Blind Review bruce


“I have many of Allison Grayhurst’s books and this one (Journey of the Awakening) is well worth a read. There is a spiritual element to the poems that have a lifting aspect as you read each poem. I highly recommend reading The River is Blind, I have this in paperback and come back to it time and again when I am looking for inspiration. I don’t think you can go wrong with dipping in and out of all her books of contemporary poetry and I am sure you would enjoy them all,” Bruce Ruston, poet, photographer, founding editor of The Poetry Jar.

Journey of the awkening book eview bruce 


“This, (Pushing Through the Jelly Fire) is my second favorite book of poetry by Allison Grayhurst. I have it in paperback. I read a lot of poetry across a lot of blogs but Grayhurst’s work stands above the crowd and is of tremendous quality. I highly recommend this and The River is Blind. Her quality of writing is of a high standard and never ceases to lift my spirits as I turn pages in paperback or kindle,” Bruce Ruston, poet, photographer, founding editor of The Poetry Jar.

pushing through the jelly fire review




Quote and short Interview


“We’ve recently received the work of Toronto poet Allison

Grayhurst, a collection of vivid imagery and gripping

enjambment that puts the reader in a spiralling world

of despair. By using language to express the human 

conflicts of inner turmoil and the way in which our past

burdens interact with the subconscious, the self and

the world around us, Grayhurst sculpts poems that are

revealing and confessional, as well as technically adept

in their formatting and diction,” 

David Eatock, The Continuist.

The Continuist 1The Continuist 2


A Short Interview:

Drunk Monkey Interview 7

Drunk Monkey Interview 5Drunk Monkey Interview 6

Drunk Monkey Interview 2Drunk Monkey Interview 3

Drunk Monkeys 4Drunk Monkeys 3


Thieves Of Muse 



I hope my star does not


shift from Earth and sight,


into galaxies unbridled by


God. And that my vision has


hair and pulse, enough


to reach the primal light, grow


a new strength with each


passing defeat.



In hours of climbing the worn pillars of love, as death

forces on through sleep, futility & tears, and climbing,

climbing to no avail, to see no sun, feel only the cold 

shattering of heartbreak and the mind undoing . . .



Copyright © 1997 by Allison Grayhurst


Two Book Reviews


Reviews of  books “Into My Mortal”

and “The River Is Blind”


“Her (Allison Grayhurst’s) poetry appears visceral,

not for the faint of heart, and moves forward

with a dynamism, with a frenetic pulse. If you

seek the truth, the physical blood and bones, then,

by all means, open the world into which we were all born,”

Anne Burke, poet,  regional representative for Alberta

on the League of Canadian Poets’ Council, and

chair of the Feminist Caucus, 2014.



“News from the Feminist Caucus, by Anne Burke


“This month, the case of York University and its handling of a male student’s

request to be excused from attending a study group with female students on

religious grounds. With reviews of Allison Grayhurst’s Into My Mortal

and The River is Blind.


Allison Grayhurst is a full member of the League of Canadian Poets. She

has more than 290 poems published in over 170 international

magazines/journals/anthologies. Her book Somewhere Falling was published

by Beach Holme Publishers, a Porcepic Book, in Vancouver in 1995.

Since then she has published ten other books of poetry and four

collections with Edge Unlimited Publishing. Prior to the publication

of Somewhere Falling she had a poetry book published, Common Dream,

and four chapbooks published by The Plowman. Her poetry chapbook

The River is Blind was recently published by Ottawa publisher above/ground press

December 2012. The reviews were written from uncorrected proofs.


Grayhurst admits,” I don’t have the patience to write a novel. I wanted to be

a writer, not a poet, but the poem is what is best for me. I’m too impatient to

put in all the cushioning that a novel needs around it to get to the point.

I just want to get right to it.”


And get to it she does, “If you’re a writer, you’re not going to let anything

stop you from writing. I wake up every morning at five-thirty to do my writing.”

Her poetry is beginning to reflect her spiritual growth or journey, in a new title

“Journey of the Awakening” (in Oh! Fall 1996, pp. 9-10.) In “The Poetry

of Allison Grayhurst”, by Blaise Wigglesworth, a third-year journalism student,

we are told,

           Her poems read like the journal entries of a mystic – perhaps

           that’s what they are. They are abstract and vivid, like a dreamy

           manifestation of soul. This is the best way, in prose,

           one can describe the music….


I had the opposite reaction. Her poetry appears visceral, not for the faint of heart,

and moves forward with a dynamism, with a frenetic pulse. If you seek the truth,

the physical blood and bones, then, by all means, open the world into which

we were all born.


Review of Into My Mortal, by Allison Grayhurst

(Edge Unlimited Publishing, 2004)

111 pp paper.


Although the iron mask resembles that of the Count of Monte Crisco,

she expresses the poetic nutrients that keep her/mind’s eye vivid (“It is told again”),

and declares, “I am thirsty, still/a poet” (“Desperation/Affirmation”). This collection

is primarily devoted to the conception, gestation, delivering, and raising of children.


A foremost wish “as we walk, born as one” (“Vacant Underground”) for a home

of three turned into four” (“SomeOne New”). As she makes room for the newborn,

she learns laughter from an unborn child (“I Do Not Try To Understand”), feels a kick,

does not fear “the boy you will be” (“Under My Skin”) or a babe that

needed constant tending (“In The Name”). Rather, she welcomes the

infant sound (“New Tree in the Garden”), harkens “little boy, welcome”

(“Six Months Pregnant”). However, she feels the weight of preparation

(“For Life”), as with a child and another child

(“Kind Escape”). There is a child’s mind: “One little girl”, “One little child”,

“One little heart” (“One Little Heart”). Elsewhere, a child is peering (“Storm”),

there are nursing infants (“Listening to the Talk”, and the hands of a child

(“Pure and Plastic”). I spot some children (“Tribe), when hope

feels like a new body (“Legacy”); children weeping (“On this Dock”),

playing games (“Mustard Seed”), changing body (“Overpass”), like my children

(“I see the things”). Birth contains the death that brings rebirth (“I Sleep

in The Rain”), “to be alive with you there (“Always There”), a child’s gift

(“Slice the Pony”), a perfect lullaby (“A Place For You”), a child watching

(“Learning Temperance”). At your stroller side (“Little boy born”),

my children (“Dad, I think of you”), and of “Siblings”, a thousand parents but

their only child (“Turned”. My children autumn born (“Into My Mortal”),

a baby’s teething (“The Bane of My Hypocrisy”), the smell of my baby’s neck

(“Just Believing”), a baby’s mouth (“What Can?”). A child surging (“Friend”),

my happy family (“Happy Summer Coming”), the thrashing of children”

(“Junkie”), the bloody aftermath (“The Thing Ahead”), children wait (“Weather”),

third birth (“The Hand That Came”), my children (“A Better Life”), two children

(“Because”), funerals and baby births (“The Flood”)


I would recommend “Six Months Pregnant”, “Born” “that wondrous child”,

“Days Before Birth” of a wonderful new creation. “Little Boy Born”,

“Son, Almost One” infant glory, and especially “Daughter Almost Five”,

a friend like no other.


Allison Grayhurst. lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, two children,

two cats and a dog. She also sculpts, working in clay. Some of these poems

have first appeared or will be appearing in: The Greensilk  Journal; Beatnick;

Pirene’s Fountain; Studio Journal; PoeticLicence; Bursting Plethora of Rainbow

Colors; Extract(s.)


Contact the author:;



Review of The River is Blind, by Allison Grayhurst

(Edge Unlimited Publishing,

2012) 99 pp. paper.


This poetry is private, about women who can be “brutal”, “like a smile”,

as well as “gloriously giving”, razor sharp, but “androgynously/beautiful”.

In “What face?”, the embryo appears as if “you are neither/masculine

or feminine.” Throughout, she employs reiterated tropes of swallowing and

being consumed, spatial fullness and emptiness, shut-in, caverns, chasms,

cavities; angels, archangels, blasphemy, psalms; satiation or starved.

With a conceit of unrequited sex as “my desire”, nocturnal emissions,

awakening in the morning, the poet lives at capacity, uninhibited, dancing.

(“Deep Breath In”) She personifies a star as having “sweet blood” but plugged

and unwholesome. In “this prevails”, she seeks a sponge to saturate.


The extended conceit of death, using the metaphor of “a stream” which,

paradoxically, the poet must “undress” in order “to know its cool wetness”

(“Body of Water”) she implores the muse to rescue her from “this drowning”,

to be released from sleeplessness. Her lover abandoned her, sick, with sensations

of choking, near death, in a cave. She needs to soothe her despair,

mid-day, as a serpent emerges.


In “It starts”, “where water sinks or where water concentrates, “either way,

[it] falls/but does not flow.” In “Claimed”, she wants more space in

which to swim, “between clouds”. In “Box”, there are “tossing waters”,

wet breath, a stream. In “Will you keep me”, drink me, stream through

rainclouds. In ‘Seamless”, there are raincoats and rainy seasons, past

is an outpouring. In “Desires traversed”, my liquid garden. In “I turn

the corner and “wet river stones and floating. “Intimacy” is but “chilled water”.

“Our Time” involves “melting waters together.”


In “Emptied”, “a wave never crests.” In “I heard a poet say”, one sees God

everywhere, even “in the swimming pool while treading water.” In ‘Yes”,

the acts of weeping, showering, and dripping are linked. A squid’s tentacles

are “pulled from pulsing water”. (“Our Light Cannot Always Burn Whole”)


 In “Matrimony” she explores the “wavelength”. In “I wait for you”,

the words are “like lard”, but “I have sky-dived into a torrent wave for you”,

now she is “drenched”. In “Surrogate Dharma”, she believes she could be

transformed as a fish, “weaving with one full-body stroke.”


She sets the scene of a phallic steeple which enters the sun’s skin,

in order to liberate “a liquid radiation”, an act which is “brutish”,

“pillaged”, “frozen”, emaciated”, “seeping”. (“Open Valve”) The same poem

culminates with “overflowing, so overflowing”

“drowns”, and “downpores”, “currents and currents”.


In “Quagmire”, the known becomes “blindness”, a drooling city,

with fluid boundaries. In “Changing Skins”, we learn that “lust is water”,

but more than lust “is worth every star.”


She confronts the afterbirth, with “a growing, encroaching wave”,

while she rests on a raft, the fish are curiously contented swimmers,

under seawater. (“Thirst”)


In damp places she observes tree bark as living wood, but she insists

on a new geography, with a private island (“I would not thirst”).

In “Myth”, outpourings are “insatiable”. The body as garden, is capable

of “rich waters”, “curvy undercurrents”, a mirage, drained of

natural oils, and, ultimately, unsatisfying due to

“this thin-stream garden hose”



The path to tranquility is paradoxically through mania:

 ” of our mutual exposure. I will speak in your ear and you

 will step into my voice

 like stepping into a river

 (“River”), ” 


Anne Burk, poet, regional representative for Alberta on the

League of Canadian Poets’ Council, and chair of the Feminist Caucus,




Anne Burke 11Anne Burke 2Anne Burke 3Anne Burke 4Anne Burke 10Anne Burke 5Anne Burke 6Anne Burke 12Anne Burke 14

Anne Burke 9



A recent review of “The Longing To Be”

5.0 out of 5 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars

5.0 out of 5 stars The Longing To Be 25 Sep 2013

By Scotianightpoetry

Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase


 3002“The contents of Allison Grayhurst’s book

The Longing To Be are both personal and

universal and are described in such thematic

and golden terms that one can see that a lot

of thought has gone into each line. The poems

are written mostly in free verse throughout,

with both rhythm and soul weaved into them.

For some poems, the layout seems experimental,

and there is definitely a playfulness in the way

that the words and verses fall onto the page.

Others do conform to a “norm”, whatever that is.

All are dramatic and thoughtful. These are layered poems

with new horizons presented to the reader

in every re-read. The effect is to keep things

fresh with poems that constantly surprise in spite,

and because of, the number of times being read.

I thoroughly recommend The Longing To Be

as a poetry book to study carefully

and cherish far into the future,” poet Brian Shirra.



A recent review of “Journey of the Awakening”

5.0 out of 5 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars
Amazon Verified Purchase
This review is from ‘Journey of the Awakening: The poetry of Allison Grayhurst’ 

3000“Journey of the Awakening

is the first book of poetry

that I have read of Allison Grayhurst.

While reading it began to sound familiar,

the comment to myself was

“She is as good as Sylvia Plath”.

When I finished the book I read

comments from others who referred to her

as “In the style of Sylvia Plath”;

Ms Plath, one of my favorite poets had no match

until Ms Grayhurst’s work.

Congratulations to her on her achievements,

I am already a ‘fan’, the love of her work will

continue to grow,” Ann Johnson-Murphree, poet and author.