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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Reader's Diary #1102- Lynn Blaikie: Beyond the Northern Lights

Remember when Jenny asks Forrest Gump to pray with her? "Dear God, make me a bird. So I can fly far. Far, far away from here." Maybe it was the simplicity of Blaikie's poem in Beyond the Northern Lights, maybe it was the calls to a raven to "fly me into the northern lights," but it was hard to stop imaging Jenny as the voice behind this picture book.

Once I got the abused and troubled Jenny in my head, it was also hard not to feel that the book is melancholy at times. Asking a raven to dance with her is one thing, but asking it to take her to "where sorrow is forgotten" is quite another.

But the poem also shares a sentiment with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and there's hope as well, whether it's through the appreciation that imagination can always take us away (e.g., to the "cold and dark and magical" world beneath the sea) or of the moments when nature provides solace, or elders provide wisdom.

However, what I really appreciated about Blaikie's book was the artwork. Done in batik (not an art I was familiar with before) I thought it looked like cracked porcelain which lent a dated quality, working in the book's favour. The accompanying poem now felt timeless, like something that had been passed down. The colours, especially the outlining gold lines, reminded me of former Yellowknife artist Dawn Oman's work. You can check out some of Blaikie's art here, including some scenes taken directly from Beyond the Northern Lights.

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