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Book Review of : Red Zone by Kim Goldberg

Jan 30th, 2010 | By | Category: Campaigns (incl.) Grassroots, Community Resource, Entertainment, Health, Housing, Life, Poetry and Inspiration, Written Word

Red Zone
By Kim Goldberg

isbn 978-0-9783223-7-3
150 pages, 60+ photos
80lb. recycled paper

Pig Squash Press
September 2009

When I got the chance to review this book I realized I could bring to this something most cannot, a certain expertise.

Red Zone by Kim Goldberg is a transcendent experience through the homeless fabric of a city, its downtown and all that it encompasses. It reminds us of how we travel these paths with blinders on, avoiding the reality that is just beyond our touch. Revealing our fear of infection by the contagion of failure like a plague to be avoided. I know, I was homeless when I was twenty-three for about eight months. I felt like I was untouchable, lost and beyond the scope of what a society is fueled by, that I was a true failure. My relationships took on a transient quality I was never ready for. In “Urban Planning” she writes:

“He’ll probably keep spending his nights at the Oxy, coming home mean, talking fist speak, till she ducks out, goes to the Women’s Centre, which will be closed due to funding cuts, so she’ll do some dumpster diving in the donation box outside the Thrift Shop until she finds another quilt and a spot to lie.”

Before my bout of being without a place of my own, I thought poor people had relationships just like I did. But when I ended up at the Sally Ann for eight months, I realized my friends before homelessness were very temporary and conditional. This allowed me to open my mind to those folks I met at the downtown hospice that became my home in the summer of 1978. Homelessness feeds a kind of lifestyle that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated. Reading this verse map of the city of Nanaimo by Kim Goldberg goes a long way to shedding a pretty realistic light on an inner city’s dynamics often judged and rejected like its homeless and drug addicted denizen, yet compellingly attractive for the energy it exudes. I came across a wonderful passage in “Walking To The Library” that describes the civility that exists among the ruck of poverty. Kim gives her account of the code of conduct regarding a bunch shopping carts comparing them to “dozing horses tethered to hitching posts”, and how no one dares mess around with another’s cart. We can conclude that despite the desperation of indigence one never really looses a total sense of humanity, in fact it is its saving grace.

Yet this poetry isn’t the sole part of the product of this book. She has presented many photos from the invisible parts of her town of Nanaimo, British Columbia. She closes her book with a photographic work called “Only a city is big enough to hold this” which acts like a tour blended with the drama of her thoughts as if to impose her poetry on the city’s skin like washable tattoos.

For those who are interested in improving our social fabric and enjoy a creative interpretation of that reality, you will surely find Kim Goldberg’s Red Zone a thought provoking book and a great read. I can tell you from an expert point of view, she has seen what many are blind to.

Her book, Red Zone is available at select bookstores or directly from Pig Squash Press. Visit www.pigsquashpress.com

In Toronto, you can purchase it at This Ain’t The Rosedale Library bookstore.

Review By:
Gilles Chiasson
Writer, Poet, & anti-poverty activist in Montreal, Quebec


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