Book Review: Stanley Park by Sapphira Olson

Book Review: Stanley Park by Sapphira Olson


“If it rains hard enough it can make the
surface become as smooth as glass.
I’ve seen it once, just after an orca swam past.
Was that you?”

Up There In The Clouds, Sapphira Olson, Stanley Park

Sapphira Olson’s poetry collection, Stanley Park, weaves the story of two lovers and their journey through time. We follow them through an unforgettable ebb and flow of human experience. This collection of 35 poems draws a narrative thread that kept me turning pages and wanting to know more about these two incredible women. Poems take us from the external landscape of Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia through an internal landscape rich with emotional legend.


Falling in Love


“It doesn’t make sense of course: love never does.
It’s counter-intuitive, destabilising, something you can’t

Awkward Motion Towards A First Kiss, Sapphira Olson, Stanley Park


This is the thing I remember most about my experiences of falling in love. Olson describes it perfectly as something ‘destabilising’. As I read this poem I can picture this awkward fumbling and rushing that finally pulls two people together, causing a collision that will either push them forward together or pull them apart. The lines in this poem decrease in length as the poem comes to a close, describing the unravelling of control and a submission to passion until there is nothing left but that heartbeat of emotion between two people.

“Nothing else
nothing at

Awkward Motion Towards A First Kiss, Sapphira Olson, Stanley Park


The Details of Loss


“There is an extra spoon in my jacket pocket,
if you wanted to join me
from your place up there in the clouds.

It’s maple walnut.
Take all the time you need.”

Up There In The Clouds, Sapphira Olson, Stanley Park

It’s this small detail of the ice cream flavour that I find tugging at my heart as this poem comes to a close. Initially, when two people meet it’s a flurry of getting to know you questions and conversations, compelled by a rush of wanting to hang on to this newfound possibility. Over time, all of those details commit themselves to memory. I think of my own relationship and the little things that we will remember about each other forever. Yes, I will remember the way his bottom lip moves slightly as we read in silence, sitting on separate couches during quiet nights. I will remember the way he favours having two croissants and the second is always buttered with chocolate sprinkles that he presses firm to the pastry so they will not escape.

But, we never want to have to remember these things because it signifies a loss of the very person we love. The ache of loss is an echo of the deep connection two souls share. Olson touches on this like a painter, adding a feathered detail that brings in the dimension of that connection. She loved maple walnut- past tense, an observation of longing.


Holding Space for Hope


“For seven years we were parted,
until one day, next to a wild woodland rose,
I dream you are with me under the canopies.”

The Heart of Summer, Sapphira Olson, Stanley Park


Throughout Olson’s book we are greeted with an illustration of a woman. Her eyes are closed and a smile plays at the corner of her lips. She is drawn with her body in profile, but her face turned toward the viewer. There is one word below her image: “hope.” This hope is peppered throughout the book, it is sandwiched in between love and grief.

In The Heart of Summer, the poet reminds us of all the ways we can choose to continue connections. This poem is a beautiful remembrance and also a powerful vision that brings peace and healing to the narrator.


In Conclusion

This collection of poetry wove a story that will continue to thrum in the recesses of my brain. Sapphira Olson combines a direct narrative approach with the rich woven storytelling of Squamish Nation legends. It is a powerful statement of how thin the veil is between the connective tissue that binds together humans with nature and emotion.

Stanley Park by Sapphira Olson is available for purchase via: Amazon (UK), Amazon (US) and through Audible. At the time of this review it is also available as part of Kindle Unlimited.


About the Author

Sapphira Olson is the pen name of author, artist and poet Sapphira Olson French.

Born in Cornwall she now lives in Luton. Faithfully LGBT she is a trans woman with 6 published novels including An Android Awakes, Fictional Alignment and The Dandelion Trilogy. Nominated for the Galaxy British Book Awards and the Arthur C. Clarke Award she has been a literary magazine senior editor and has interviewed people like Julian Barnes, Iain Banks and Markus Zusak.

She also has a short story collection published by Elsewhen Press called Parables which was born out of her experiences and deconstruction and ‘escape’ from a strict evangelical church stream.

When not writing she loves watching Audrey Hepburn movies and listening to Dido and Caravan Palace.

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