Heart of Goodness: The Life of Marguerite Bourgeoys in 30 poems

By (author): Carolyne Van Der Meer


Carolyne Van Der Meer

Carolyne Van Der Meer is a journalist, public relations professional and university lecturer. She has undergraduate and graduate degrees in English Literature from University of Ottawa and Concordia University respectively, and a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from the Humber School for Writers. Her journalistic articles, essays, short stories and poems have been published internationally. She is the author of Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experience, published in 2014. Journeywoman is her first volume of poetry. She is currently at work on a young adult fiction novel. She lives in Kirkland, Quebec.


I found myself deeply moved by this collection: won over by Van Der Meer’s clean, crisp, contemporary sentences that sing with empathy and paint a powerful picture of a historical figure who possessed a seemingly unbending devotion to the betterment of women. I set skepticism aside—a leap of faith, if you will—and emerged on the other end of Heart of Goodness feeling remarkably…healed.

– Ottawa Review of Books

Carolyne Van Der Meer’s achievement in these poems is to capture the essence of this remarkable seventeenth-century woman, humble but fiercely determined. She allows us a glimpse into Marguerite Bourgeoys’ soul, to appreciate her deep spirituality and her practicality in 30 intricately-crafted poems which, pared-down and polished, shine like their subject with sincerity, originality and fidelity to essential truths.

Carolyne Van Der Meer has written a fine book that exhibits sharp insights into the life of Marguerite Bourgeoys. The craft is evocative, rich with images and employs a spot on pace and tone. Readers will be enthralled by this portrait of sacrifice, faith, strength and love.

Poetry transcends the limits of language. Sometimes it is explosive in the spaces between words, sometimes moving, sometimes contemplative. Heart of Goodness by Carolyne Van Der Meer is all three. The explanatory subtitle, The Life of Marguerite Bourgeoys in 30 Poems (1620 -1700), defines the poet’s context but by no means limits the content. With an austere economy of language and in the spaces around her words on the page, she conveys the essence of an astonishing life. This is not a devotional or visionary poem (the separate poems are really stanzas in a singular work). It is a compassionate revelation, a poem exploring the psyche a woman whose devotion and vision inspired her to great works on behalf of other women. As a committed atheist, I found it a heartfelt joy to read. Face to face translations, French and English, create inspired echoes bound to resound. Long after the book is set down, the title character remains with us.


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94 Pages
9in * 6in *


October 01, 2020

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Guernica Editions



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POETRY / Canadian

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