Jónína Kirton is our local poet. She is a Métis with Icelandic and Indigenous roots. It was especially interesting to read this collection of poetry because it’s modern, indigenous, and feminist. Jónína’s poems are relatable, in simple language, yet with complex meaning or, often, on complex subjects. There are poems that are filled with pain and sorrow, but when you read them – it feels like by saying and acknowledging all the heavy matters – we become lighter and calmer: accepting and forgiving. This is the true beauty of poetry: releasing our thoughts and feelings and transforming subjects into something else entirely. (Submitted by Mariya)
If you would like to meet Jónína Kirton in person and hear her story, then, feel free to register for an upcoming Authors Among Us event – Wednesday, September 26, 2018, 6:30-8:30 pm at the Guildford Library. For more information, please, visit this link.
I came upon this book by accident, while searching for something else. But, as you all probably know, many of the best things in life come as a surprise and turn out to be completely different from what we were initially looking for. When I saw this picture book, the title got hold of my attention and I started reading it. Inside, there is a powerful voice that is telling a child (or you, as a reader) as to why everyone is special and precious. The many reasons why every child and every being is unique and valuable are shared through a strong and flowing verse. This beautiful poetic language is accompanied by gorgeous, photography. The combination of the two gives this book a breath and a heart beat (the latter one is like a steady beat of a mini drum). Highly recommend this First Nations picture book to anyone who wants to empower a child (or anyone else!). The book is all about self-confidence, respect for others, and appreciation of life. (Submitted by Mariya)
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Anne Marie Turza’s debut collection of poetry uses language to hint at what is beyond language. For instance, the poet uses the image of moths with button holes sewn to their wings noting they are “drawn not to the bulb, but to the/ darkness beyond just beyond it, the darkness that light intensifies.” This is not unlike what it is like to read the book: the, vivid imagery—which pulls in language from science, myth and Russian literature—is entrancing, and one finds oneself drawn back to it. Sleep is a theme throughout the book but the pervading mood is not at all dreamy; rather an insomniac logic defines a poetic world where sleep is an industry, comes in snippets and is itself a foreign language that the poet does not understand. The book is divided into five sections, with sections about The Quiet placed at the beginning middle and the end of the book. The nature of the quiet is unfolded in zen-like passages that rest as little self-contained boxes on the page. The reader is told repeatedly what the quiet is “not unlike” and thus it becomes easier to say what the quiet is not, rather than what it is. The quiet surrounds the book’s two other sections, Not Mine, Not Anyone’s and Other Buzzing Passages. In these, carefully crafted prose poems composed of exquisite vivid sentences alternate with lined poems. While there is no obvious reference to the quiet, the theology of the quiet pervades these sections. It is here that the speaker makes reference to a god (like the quiet never capitalized within the text) who is similarly elusive, who is “leaving,/ leave snow to be snow/ of what kinds/of its kinds.// Snow of lit vestibules/Snow shadowed with algebra.”). This deity belongs to no-one, is in charge of “untrue colours” and “conditional tenses. The book is meticulously crafted. Despite the lack of obvious narrative structure, each poem is linked to the one before it, creating a coherent whole. (Submitted by Jennifer Z.)
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Poetry can seem intimidating, especially if you were scarred by it in english class in high school. But Michael V. Smith’s latest collection of poems, Bad Ideas is very accessible and richly rewarding: reading his poems feels like watching a beautiful rainbow, his words wash over you in waves of colourful emotions – joy, sadness, grief, and humour. His poetry is not weighed down by oblique references or excess verbiage: he speaks plainly and from his personal experience dealing with family trauma, lost loved ones and long-distance friends. Bad Ideas is a great introduction to poetry in the 21st century. (Submitted by Andrea)
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“There are strange things done/in the midnight sun/By the men who moil for gold/The Arctic trails have their secret tales/That would make your blood run cold/The Northern Lights/ have seen queer sights/But the queerest they ever did see/Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge/I cremated Sam McGee.”
Robert Service was a mild-mannered bank clerk in real life, but the way this poem makes the Arctic come alive, you’d think the man was a veteran of the Klondike. It’s funny; the version of Sam McGee I remember from my childhood conjures up images of grinning corpses, lonely cold, and complete silence, save for the sound of a lone sled’s runners slicing eerily through the snow. Bleak, strange, wildness…all surrounded by devastating, enveloping cold. When I pulled it off the shelves today and gave it a quick re-read, I was surprised (and delighted) to find that not only does it still have all that wildness, it’s funny, too. There is definite humour in these pages – the unnamed speaker of the poem lends some definite snark to the situation.
What a great tale. Each time I read this poem, I get chills. There are poems that have the ability to completely transport us to a specific time and place, and Robert Service’s The Cremation of Sam McGee remains one of the best. Brrrrrrr!
P.S. Bonus Canadian points go to this edition because it’s illustrated by Ted Harrison. (Submitted by Veronica)
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I loved this book of poetry. Heidi’s words evoked imagery that made me laugh out loud, nod knowingly, blush furiously, and feel sadly. One of my favourite poems “Alberta Visitor” summarizes how I feel when I leave our oceanfront existence on the Westcoast to visit family in Edmonton:
houses here so far from anything
make me want to knock on doors
ask how did I/you
ever get here
Please read it! (Submitted by Meghan).
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I laughed out loud and read aloud, relishing Kevin Spenst’s fantastic way with words. This is a book of poetry chronicling his upbringing in Surrey, delving into issues of religion, mental health, politics, culture, and the always interesting experience of growing up. I really enjoyed it. Kevin is a great speaker and I can’t wait to hear him share his poetry in person. (Submitted by Meghan).
Meet Kevin at Authors Among Us: Remembering the Past in Poetry and Prose at Guildford Library on Wed, Nov 4 at 6:30pm. Call 604-598-7374 to save your spot.
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