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Flightpaths by Heidi Greco
reviewed by Bill Arnott

The Lost Journals of Ameila Earhart
Heidi Greco
Caitlin Press, 2017


Never in my life have I read a book of poetry in one sitting. Until now. Heidi Greco manages the impossible in Flightpaths: The Lost Journals of Amelia Earhart. Greco’s unique mix of contemporary verse poetry and Earhart-inspired journal entries in prose combine to create a well written screenplay simply awaiting camera crew and musical instrumentation.

Australian journal Verity La: Heightened Talk implores poets to “Be brave, taking poetry that might not even look like poetry to its conclusion, no matter the potential madness.” Which is what Greco has done. Expertly. Without the madness. No need to encourage this writer to be brave. She’s already there, her mix of familiar line-break verse generously mixed with prose-like blocks, the result a well-blended visual and sensory hop-scotch.

From Crashed: “Mayday, mayday, SOS. / This is KHAQQ. / Earhart and Noonan here. / Over. / How many times did I make the call, / sending and sending / an echo of myself.”

Then from 4th of July, barely an atoll: “This was to be our day of celebration, California our final destination. I console myself thinking instead how folks in Atchison will gather in front of my grandparents’ house. They’ll sprawl in sweet grass on the riverbank while fireworks fill the summer sky. With the moon waning, the stars here grow in intensity, so tonight they will serve as my private fireworks.”

I can’t help but keep going, needing to know how it ends, despite knowing all too well. I think. I’m no longer certain. Greco’s research is exceedingly thorough. I ended up reading Flightpaths on International Women’s Day which felt apropos, a role-model authentic and courageous – pilot and author alike.

From Step right up, little lady: “tired of how these men / doh-see-doh me round the tarmac / squeezing timid smiles from me / flirting for a kiss”

Like turbulent seas surrounding our heroine we drift with an ebb and flow of emotion, lucidity, survival, imprisonment (real or imagined?) along with grief, hope, resignation and ambiguous clarity.

July 24: “Tonight will be the fullest moon. Also my birthday, a milestone. I’m not sure whether that fellow who wrote the book was right when he said life begins at forty. How old must he be by now? Is his life still full of beginnings? As for me, this will be the day of my ending. One decision I can make alone, one thing I can do for myself. Too long here, too tired to carry on, too sick, too done.”

When I finally set down Greco’s innovative book I felt, I believe, like stranded Earhart, a sense of completion, open ends alongside conclusion. I was left uniquely satisfied, wanting for more but content with where things have ended, more or less, a starry seaside ellipsis.

Vancouver author, poet, songwriter Bill Arnott is the bestselling nonfiction author of Dromomania and Gone Viking. Sales generate donations to numerous charities. His poetry, articles and reviews are published in Canada, the US, UK, Europe and Asia. Bill’s series Left Coast Poetry Beat is published by the League of Canadian Poets and the Federation of BC Writers.