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Friday, January 09, 2009

Reader's Diary #433- Elaine Woodward: Grandmother


"Through writing/ I bare myself:/ naked/ before you"

The above line is from the first poem, "Exposed," of Elaine Woodward's book of poetry and stories, Grandmother. Woodward, a Metis woman originally from Alberta but now living in Yellowknife, dedicated this book to two deceased women: her grandmother (presumably shown on the cover) and sister. It is clear from the poems that Woodward has had a lot of pain in her life (through an abusive marriage and through death), but fond memories of the aforemention women.

The lines from "Exposed" perfectly summarize the book to come. There's a lot of honesty, told in a lot of cliché. And that's about as harsh as I'm going to be. Grandmother, originally published by the now defunct Wordcrafting Publications (a company she started on her own), is no longer in print and so reviewing it would serve no great purpose. It's wonderful that Woodward had poetry to turn to in times of stress and she's a remarkable woman to have overcome what she did. Maybe someone who comes across the book at the local library will find solace in her words.

Plus, the illustrations by Autumn Downey are quite well done.

For comic relief only, here's a poem from none other than Robert DeNiro as Jack Byrnes in Meet The Parents:

"You gave me life,
You gave me milk,
You gave me courage.
Your name was Angela,
An angel from Heaven.

But you were also an angel of God,
And He needed you, too.
I selfishly tried to hold on to you,
While the cancer ate away at your organs
Like an unstoppable rebel force.
And now we'll meet in Heaven.

And I shall see you
Nevermore, nevermore, nevermore."


(For what it's worth, Woodward's poetry is better than this!)

5 comments:

laurasalas said...

Those lines put me in mind of Anna Nalick's song, Breathe, which I love:

And i feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to

One of the things I love about poetry--it's so cathartic. Whether you ever try to publish it or not, it can hold a lot of your life in it.

Kelly Fineman said...

Interesting juxtaposition of poems, John. I recall that De Niro poem from the movie . . . so earnest, and so hard not to laugh at.

Wanda said...

Theraputic poetry, cliché or not, resonates with those who share similar life experiences and (sometimes) with individuals happy to have nothing in common with the authour at all.

jenniferknoblock said...

Another Yellowknife writer?! You amaze me. The frozen north is a literary hotbed :)

John Mutford said...

I just had an email from Elaine letting me know that the book is once again in print through Bagman Productions. To order a copy
Bagman Productions here's the contact info:
Site 10, Box 1, R.R. 1
Millarville, AB, T0L 1K0
Tel: 403-931-1094
Fax: 403-931-1096
E-Mail: lifeworks@lifeworks.cc