Where in Canada: Geographies of Love (& the Internet)

September 10, 2014

There are several kinds or qualities of geography interlaven in the poetry of this collection. Canadian municipal place names, from west to east – Victoria (BC), Winnipeg (MB), Ottawa (ON), and Iqaluit (NU) – form a trellis of real-world geographies. Internet conversation groups – such as specific Yahoogroups or Google groups – alongside email address monikers referencing individuals, form another constellation of experienced “places” transited through the course of the book.

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What:

Halfling Spring: an internet romance ( Kegedonce Press, 2014)

Who:

Joanne Arnott, Metis/mixed blood, from Treaty 1 Territories/St Boniface Diocese/Diocese of Winnipeg, living in Coast Salish Un-ceded Territories/Diocese of Vancouver. Arts activist, blogger, mother of six young people and author of nine books.

Where in Canada:

Halfling Spring: an internet romance is a book of love poetry, built from conversations arising through the early period of an online (and a real world) romance. The simple poems and the modest sketches (by myself and by the great Leo Yerxa, respectively) form a very this-world conversation about the complexities of our worlds, and our hearts.

There are several kinds or qualities of geography interlaven in the poetry of this collection. Canadian municipal place names, from west to east – Victoria (BC), Winnipeg (MB), Ottawa (ON), and Iqaluit (NU) – form a trellis of real-world geographies. Internet conversation groups – such as specific Yahoogroups or Google groups – alongside email address monikers referencing individuals, form another constellation of experienced “places” transited through the course of the book.

There is an embedded substructure of the book that includes specific indigenous stories, some given to me through friends (Gitxsan, Cree), some found on the internet (Anishnabe, Algonquin), and other references to indigenous cultural wealth encountered in other ways: stories about specific people, lovers’ options envisioned via Kwakiutl marital traditions, observations on the influx of inuksuit in the south, a meditation on relationship via archival photos of historical inuksuit, and more. A confusion of sleighs, where one images a hand-pulled sled while another envisions a dog-team.

I sat at home in Musqueam and Coast Salish territories, and thought about a person living in the rocky northern eastern islands of Inuit domain. We circled through the world for visiting, including my home territories (and really, you haven’t lived until you’ve slept in a hostel beside a new love interest, who has nightmares about you).

Bringing together collisions of culture and tech as a way of exploring collisions of the heart is not necessarily new to me, but, if you don’t mind love stories that touch on archeology, genetic sampling, Chinese medicine, Bible stories, board games, Crow, and climate change— eg., a miscegenated person’s reflections on a miscegenating world— then this book may be for you.

Jamie Reid called the collection “a sequence of poems… of a new and fresh love affair between two fully mature people,” however, the processes of maturing are palpably bumpy, it seems to me, a little hit-and-miss. Sharron Proulx-Turner calls the words “a powerful medicine… mesmerizes…” which I may only hope to be true.

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*****

Thank you to Joanne Arnott and Kegedonce Press for sharing some of the geography behind Halfling Spring with us.

 

 


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