Poetry


Burnett, M. 1993
The Centre of the World: A Plains Journey. Whiskey Jack Publishing Ltd, Calgary, Alberta, Canada 87 pages.
AEU HSS PS 8552 U787 C39 A series of prose poems, illustrated by historic and modern photos of plains locales. Imagined conversations between prominent late 19th century figures, such as Riel and Sitting Bull. (10/Nov/2001).

Hildebrandt, W. 2004
Where the Land Gets Broken. Ekstasis Editions, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada 136 pages.
AEU HSS PS 8558 I26 W46 Thirteen poems, mostly long poems, focussing on life and experience of Saskatchewan, especially the Cypress Hills region. Many are told from or are about the Aboriginal perspective. The longer poems deal with Aboriginal history, notably the Cypress Hills massacre of 1873. Others deal with the experience of growing up in Saskatoon in 1950s and early 1960s, and revisiting a childhood home in Moose Jaw in 1999. Historical figures stride through these poems: Moses Solomon, Abel Farwell, Little Soldier, the unnamed Assiniboine people killed in 1873, Big Bear, Louis O'Soup, Thomas Quinn, John Craig, Piapot, Isaac Cowie, and James Settee, to mention a few. Likewise, these poems are firmly anchored in their particular landscape. Place names tie the poems to their settings. The Cypress Hills of course, but also Wakaw, Waskesiu, Crean Lake, Weyakwin, Prince Albert, Maple Creek, and Pasqua. "Where The Land Gets Broken" is a phrase that can be read on many levels: as the Assiniboine name for the Cypress Hills, where the hills break through the prairies and project an upland; as the result of EuroCanadian settlement that "breaks the land" by ploughing; or the way in which the land, traversed freely by Aboriginal people, was broken up into strictly demarcated areas by an imposed system of land tenure. Continuing the theme of dislocation, two poems give a view from outside, as it were. One is set in Washington, DC, where the poet contemplates the futility of war in front of the Vietnam War Memorial. The other is set in Minneapolis ("Mickeyapolis") where the poet encounters other displaced people, the black inhabitants who clean and maintain the city are seen from inside the clean white space of the Walker Art Centre. This is thoughtful poetry, richly imbued with a sense of place and a sense of history and grounded in the prairie landscape. It is outward poetry, concentrating on history and narrative, not so much the poet's feelings, inward life, or reaction to events. (18/Jun/2010).

Hill, G. 2001
The Man from Saskatchewan. Coteau Books, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada 76 pages.
AEU HSS PS 8565 I443 M36 Despite the title, very few of these poems are tied to place or have a particular prairie flavour. The cover art says 'drought', with the shadow of a man across a dried-up mud-cracked lake-bed. Most poems deal with personal experiences, and have a ruminative flavour. They are inward, rather than outward, looking. (24/May/2006).

Hill, G. 2008
My Human Comedy: The Man From Saskatchewan Book Two. Coteau Books, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada 105 pages.
AEU HSS PS 8565 I443 M9 Some of these poems have prairie connections - praying for rain or driving across the prairies at night - but most don't and could have been written anywhere. There's not much that is distinctive to the prairies in these poems. Many poems feature crows, which Hill appears to see as creatures emblematic of the prairie landscape. I particularly liked the two poems about being a poetry teacher ("Advice to First-year English Students Ready to Read a Poem" and "Anecdote of the Readers") which are described as poems for an office door. In the latter poem, Hill imagines himself kidnapped by militant readers who want to force him to tell them what his poems mean. This is straightforward and uncomplicated poetry, easy to read. (22/Aug/2009).

Lilburn, T. 1994
Moosewood Sandhills. McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 68 pages.
AEU HSS PS 8562 I27 M66 Rich poetry dealing with the sandhill country of Saskatchewan.

Lilburn, T. 1999
To the River. McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 75 pages.
AEU HSS PS 8562 I27 T6 Dense and allusive poems. The river of the title is the South Saskatchewan.

Lilburn, T. 2003
Kill-site. McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 75 pages.
AEU HSS PS 8562 I27 K54 More exploration of inward and outward landscapes, focused on southern and central Alberta and Saskatchewan. The more I read this poetry, the more I enjoy it. It well repays the effort of understanding. Lilburn was given the 2003 Governor General's Award for Poetry for this book. (13/Dec/2003).

Lilburn, T. 2012
Assiniboia: Two Choral Performances and a Masque. McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, Ontario, Canada ix + 84 pages.
Another very complex series of poems. There are many voices in this collection: Louis Riel, Sara Riel (his sister), a Stranger, a Traveller, a young teenaged boy. Other voices emanate from the landscape itself: poplar trees, cranes, Bull's Forehead Hill (near the South Saskatchewan River, not far east of Empress), and the Cabri effigy. All speak in a complex interweaving of voices, describing times and places, moving between present, the recent historical past (the Riel Rebellion). The poem I enjoyed most was the declamation by Cabir man (pp. 50-51), a list of tool-stones found in the archaeological record on the prairies (Knife River Flint, Montana chert etc.). (13/Apr/2012).

Marty, S. 1999
Sky Humour. Black Moss Press, Windsor, Ontario, Canada 101 pages.
AEU HSS PS 8563 A797 S59 Poetry focused on the land and people of southwestern Alberta.

Sapergia, B. 1980
Dirt Hills Mirage. Thistledown Press, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada 97 pages.
AEU HSS PS 8569 A64 D59 Poems that concentrate on the experience of a close-knit immigrant family on the prairies in the early to mid 20th century. Sapergia describes the arrival of her grandparents from a small village in Romania to homestead in the Dirt Hills of southeastern Saskatchewan on the Missouri Coteau. From internal evidence, their arrival likely sometime in the early 20th century. Moose Jaw, Regina, Avonlea, and Old Wives Lake are other places mentioned in the poems. Strong and competent women, especially Sapergia's grandmother, are featured in the poems that document the joys and difficulties of family life in a new land, and the conflict between old customs (such as arranged marriages and dowries) and modern ways. Sapergia also celebrates childhood and her relationship with her siblings and schoolmates. These are straightforward narrative poems, firmly rooted in a particular place and time. The book is very nicely designed too. (10/Jun/2011).
Number of citations: 10
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This presentation has been compiled and is © 1998-2012 by
Alwynne B. Beaudoin (bluebulrush@gmail.com)
Last updated September 2, 2012
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