Feb 4, 2015
This weeks Snapshots explore historical timeframes through recreations, reimaginings and exposures.
The Winter Count
The Winter Count is a poetry collection that explores relations between First Nations, Metis, and Settlers, around the time of the Red River Rebellion. This collection unforgivingly tears into and exposes this period of our Canadian History. Leman has created a shocking collection of poetry, she almost immediately exposes the reader to turbulent and gritty images, writing “Execute/the wounded. Bake in a hot oven/until 25 Assiniboine are dead/(women and children included)./Using a clean, sharp/knife, test for survivors.” These poems are not corralled by a single style or voice, instead they explore many styles, and many voices crawl in and out of this narrative collection. The Winter Count includes original poems, but also weaves “reconstituted archival texts” into the collection. These “reconstituted” poems manifest themselves in letters, interviews, diary entries, etc. “Riel was hanged/this morning / Wrote Carrie and almost/ ( ) Hituji asl conssy / proposed to her / xtrqssjl vr iir” This constant switch of style demands attention from the reader, but this is just the sort of collection you will want to give your full attention to.
Sin Eater is a collection of poetry that does exactly what the title suggests: gobbles up the seven deadly sins. The collection is arranged in seven sections, and the titled sin of each section is the driving force of the poems. In this collection, the seven deadly sins “reflect a modern context and culture”. In Greed, Hibbs writes “A cow and his jacket are soon parted. / Sometimes a cow is just his jacket / draped over a sawhorse.” This collection asks the reader to review a closed list with an open mind. By exploring the sins with modern day language and content, Hibbs is able to expose the sins, but also to expose today’s cultural norms. In Pride, we read “Something in the way I pressed my pencil / ranking my mood a zero / weighed more than yours. / My grief scored three full points / higher than yours.” The sin of each section is nuanced, but effectively there. After reading this collection you may find all seven sins squirming around under your skin. Hibbs’ poetry can do just that.
Afterletters is an exploration. This collection of poetry stumbles through the love letters shared between two twentieth century poets after WWII, creating a wonderfully raw and vulnerable collection. The poetry itself is well crafted, Kolewe has made a sophisticated piecemeal of the words shared between the two lovers. Kolewe reimagines the letters into poems with powerful shapes of their own “suspended from wires above the tracks that / my age and your age and the age of / don’t misunderstand me.” By taking language from the love poems and masterfully assembling them into poems, we are left with a vulnerable yet composed collection of work.