Learning Their Names : Letters from the Home Place
(Collusion Books, Halifax 2022)
Learning Their Names: Letters from the Home Place
by Jannie Edwards and Sydney Lancaster
Over a year in the global pandemic, two friends exchanged poetic letters across the country between Edmonton and Halifax exploring a twenty-year relationship with a five-acre, off-grid piece homestead near the North Saskatchewan River in northeast Alberta, a piece of land these two settler women love dearly.
A stunning chapbook borne of a commitment to "slow" art, and the attentiveness and care
that only gifted collaborators could bring to questions about land, landscape, history, and the meaning of home and not/home, both settlement, erasure, and displacement. Taken by the loving language, and the daring--holding hands across the miles (and miles and miles) for a long while, until the form of the work (a series of letters) suggested itself, and the language--settler and Indigenous, divined and discovered--felt just right.
Susan Scott, Editor, Body and Soul: Stories for Skeptics and Seekers, Caitlin Press
(Frontenac House Press, 2010)
Falling Blues was a finalist in Frontenac House Press` national competition, Dektet 2010, in celebration of 10 years of publishing. It was also a finalist for the Writers Guild of Alberta`s poetry prize in 2011, along with Alice Major, Tim Bowling and Robert Kroetsch.
from Falling Blues
I Have Five Things to Say
First, there is no shame in being lost.
Second, learn how to fall.
Third, when you found me, I was waiting.
Fourth, forget how to count!
Fifth, I am a slow learner.
It took me half a life to learn
The bowl must sometimes be empty.
Now, I must learn about the bowl breaking.
Familiar comforts – marital beds, teacups – are balanced on the knife edge of language, scissored into poetic forms from villanelle to blues. The result is attentive and disconcerting. The beautiful success of this superb collection is due to the use of verbs, always freshly precise and colourfully sound.
Jury, Dektet 2010
Blood Opera: The Raven Tango Poems (MacEwan Press, 2006)
from Blood Opera : The Raven Tango Poems
Raven on the Beginning of Everything
But you could see it.
Then lots of words.
Magic, after all, is magic. Anything can happen and it does in Blood Opera: The Raven Tango Poems by Jannie Edwards. . . . The sleek, Raven-black, 62-page volume starts with ‘Raven on the Beginning of Everything’ and winds downs with ‘Raven on Silence.’ In between are a myriad of Tango-influenced poems on everything from gardens, pornography and suicide, to sunsets. There is ‘Judas’ Tango’ in which Christ’s betrayer agonizes over his actions: ‘…his tongue a knotted rope,/ desperate with this need to tell,/this vocation.’ The Pornographer in his Tango has “guileless blue eyes,” and the speaker asks: “What did you expect? Wolf eyes? Ice? His sex is a "knife edge/you want to skin.” The poem ‘Falling in Seven Tangos’ stretches out through seven, occasionally overlapping voices to explore myriad types of falling from night, school grades and expectations, to drunks, water and lovers.. . . Marked by thrusts and parries, leading and following and incendiary-style connection, Tangos in the book deal with marriage, parenthood and man’s relationship with desire, debt, and much else. Paul Saturley's realistic and ethereal images counterpoint and enrich the poems.
– Christina Grant
The Possibilities of Thirst
(Rowan Books, 1997)
The Possibilities of Thirst explores the many forms of desire: its compulsions, its perversities, its wrong turnings, and its rich satisfactions. Robert Hass says: "The reason we call it longing is that desire has such spaces in it." The Possibilities of Thirst explores some of those spaces: Love, the human urgency to create, the desire of poets to write poems that "move the stars to pity,” violence, war, feisty women. . .
Letters About Listening
You write from the coast
about listening to the sea;
an apprentice listener, you say,
learning to navigate.
I don`t know much about the sea
except it eventually forces you back
Out here on the prairie
somewhere between Thanksgiving and Halloween
on the night of the clear full moon
there is no shore,
no edge but the edge of a shiver
which the coyote`s wail seeks out
with the cunning of a dowser`s rod.
I do know that what we hear in the dark
is different for each of us.
These poems close distance: distance between a Bosnian immigrant and her Canadian host; between those with pierced skin in a darkened theatre and those who watch them; between women retreating in a mountain cabin who find themselves on the verge of ‘knowing something very old….’ Edwards allows us an encounter with the grace that exists all around us when we catch a glimpse of the ‘geometries of the heart.’ A rare sensibility shines through each poem, and Edwards’ insights create for the reader new possibilities of thirst.
– Paul Wilson, author of Dreaming My Father's Body