Janet’s voice, embodied by Sharon’s poetry, tells us what this young black woman, poised and pretty, will endure and what will happen to her. To read the poems as historical documentation of a hidden life, a silenced voice, is to enter a dimension that forces both inquiry—how can this have happened?—and also an understanding of the reality of what many endure, behind the closed doors of a home… “
These past few months, before COVID-19 struck us hard, I had been reading and contemplating a remarkable book of poetry, How She Read (Caitlin Press, 2019) by Chantal Gibson. As soon as I saw this book, I knew:
that I wanted to suggest the poet to Lunch Poems at SFU—was thrilled when our Lunch Poems crew agreed and we were so happy to hear Chantal read from her book.
I was therefore delighted, to be invited to review How She Read for The Ormsby Review:
It’s a pleasure to be able to find publication space to “go deep”. Little did I know, that I’d be polishing and editing my piece during those opening fraught weeks in March as COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Yes, that was way harder than I imagined: hard to concentrate, hard to shut out the world…. Glad and grateful, though, to have persevered, and to have had the privilege to do so. To have spent time with this compassionate, fierce, skilled poet and author.
I’ll be thinking about this book for a long while yet….
“Marion Quednau, from Gibsons, has won awards for both poetry and prose, including a Smithbooks-Books in Canada First Novel Award for The Butterfly Chair (1987). With Paradise, Later Years, she now debuts her first full-length collection of long poems, prose poems, and lyrics, which read as individual poems. Divided into four sections, “Holiday,” “Nuclear Family,” “When the Power Went Out,” and the eponymous “Paradise, Later Years,” Quednau writes in long lines that spill almost into the middle gutter of the book, creating a flow-sensation so that the entire work reads as a book-length poem. Kudos to Quednau, her editors, and her publisher for releasing a book where every poem is long and lengthy in form and in theme…”
“We were speaking then of necessary journeys, of the way the reading of a book might become a crossing-over into other people’s territory, for instance into those migrations that are within the smallest interiors, such as the beginning and then the end of a marriage, or of any relationship, real or imagined, and into a journey that brings us to memory, a closing-shut-open door that leads to explorations of the nature of loss.
A new and specific kind of loss is the subject of this haunting book of poem-vignettes, The Small Way, by a Vancouver writer who is also a nurse: Onjana Yawnghwe.”