Reinvesting in Families

Reinvesting in Families by Dorothy Badry, Don Fuchs, H. Monty Montgomery, and Sharon McKay, eds. Published by University of Regina Press Review by Leslie Vermeer $39.95 ISBN 978-0-888977-352-3 Healthy families make healthy communities. The inverse is also true: when families struggle, the community suffers. Reinvesting in Families: Strengthening Child Welfare Practice for a Brighter Future, a collection of research edited by Dorothy Badry and colleagues, argues that on the prairies we need new, evidence-based social work practices to help families and communities be strong and healthy. The book takes a big step toward identifying practices that work and asking questions about future improvements. Reinvesting in Families is part of a series developed by the Prairie Child Welfare Consortium (PCWC). The University of Regina was a founding member of PCWC, whose goal is “to share information, conduct research, and consult, collaborate, and partner … to enhance and strengthen child welfare service delivery, education, and training.” Several of the contributors to this book point out that Aboriginal children and families are particularly affected by social services and social policies. They call for new, “innovative programs based on Indigenous knowledge and methods.” Changing the way social work is done — not only by…

Measures of Astonishment

Measures of Astonishment: Poets on Poetry with contributions by Margaret Atwood, Anne Carson, George Elliot Clarke, and others ISBN 9780889773714 $27.95 Published by U of R Press Review by Tanya Foster For the creative writer or the poetry reader or the literary specialist, a collection of essays by poets on poetry is an enticement. Many such collections have been written—some consider the poetic process; others uphold various theoretical positions; and others are structured around literary or historical periods. This collection, entitled Measures of Astonishment: Poets on Poetry, is, above all a tribute to poetry. The writers showcase the transfigurative power of poetry—the life-giving, community-building, reality-defining, other-centering possibilities of poetry. As a creative reader, reading this collection will help to unlock a poetic impulse. One of the dominant ideas from the collection is that poetry’s capacity for making connections has transformative power. How often do we try to grab onto a hazy idea that eludes our intellect or try to express what an experience meant but can’t find the language? Metaphor, argue many of the authors, is what poets most rely on to bring connections between what is known and what is unknown. Metaphor offers us access into ideas and experiences…

Journeys in Community-Based Research (Softcover)

Journeys in Community-Based Research by Bonnie Jeffery, Isobel M. Findlay, Diane Martz, and Louise Clarke, eds. Published by University of Regina Press Review by Leslie Vermeer $34.95 978-0-88977-339-4 To many people, pure academic research seems obscure, even irrelevant. Some organizations pointedly ridicule curiosity-based research, implying that only applied research – research undertaken to be put to use – is valuable. And then there is community-based research, a third form directed at positive action, social change, and advocacy, and also the subject of a recent book published by University of Regina Press. It might just change your mind about the significance of academic research. Journeys in Community-Based Research examines ten years of community-based research in Saskatchewan. This research has been underwritten by two bodies – the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU) and the Community–University Institute for Social Research (CUISR) – that work with various partners to address community issues and create positive change. Readers may be familiar with some of the projects and their outcomes. Community-based research (CBR) connects academic rigour with real community needs, producing valuable relationships among universities, policy-makers, non-governmental organizations, and social agencies. The goal is always to discover and deliver benefits for communities at…

*Reading from Behind

*Reading from Behind: A Cultural Analysis of the Anus by Jonathan A. Allan Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $34.95 ISBN 9-780889-773844 I’m going to take a leap here and suggest that the asterisk that appears on the cover and in the title of writer and academic Jonathan A. Allan’s provocative new book – the first in a series of books about the body by University of Regina Press – is not by chance. *Reading from Behind pokes fun and slings puns at that most base of body parts, the anus, while also situating it – in all seriousness – within a cultural and literary context. In his ballsy, er, assiduous text, Allan laments how society’s historically been phallic-centric, and he attempts to get to the bottom (it’s impossible to help myself) of why the anus gets short shrift. True to his scholarly quest, Allan addresses the anus “head on”: there are sixty pages of comprehensive notes and references here – plus an index – following the eight chapters (with delightful names, ie: “Topping from the Bottom: Anne Tenino’s Frat Boy and Toppy” and “Spanking Colonialism”). Clearly, this book was not written without significant research….

Sons and Mothers

Sons and Mothers: Stories from Mennonite Men Edited by Mary Ann Loewen Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $21.95 ISBN 9-780889-774032 I’m a fourth generation Canadian, and unfortunately haven’t been privy to conversations about ancestors’ “old country” lives, which, in my case, would have included several European counties. I’ve always felt a kind of longing for such tales, for knowing where we come from helps make sense of who we are today. After reading Sons and Mothers, Stories from Mennonite Men – a collection of a dozen essays commissioned by Winnipeg writer and educator Mary Ann Loewen – I recognize that the disparate contributors’ common heritage bonds them in an almost familial way. Yes, these Mennonite men have shared so many similar experiences they’re like one large family: a family that sings, reads, tells stories, and worships together; values hard work; practices altruism; and celebrates one another – even when individual beliefs don’t align. Two of the most obvious threads in this affecting anthology are the prominent role that music’s played – for the mothers and for their sons – and how several offspring strayed from the church’s traditional doctrines. What distinguishes the essays are…

Free Knowledge
University of Regina Press / 11 December 2015

Free Knowledge: Confronting the Commodification of Human Discovery Edited By Patricia W. Elliott & Daryl H. Hepting Published by University of Regina Press Review by Allison Kydd $27.95 ISBN 9780889773653 Free Knowledge is a collection of articles that offers some surprises to readers who might assume corporations are always the bad guys. After all, most readers have heard of corporations hoarding and overpricing pharmaceuticals, making them unavailable to the countries that need them most. Many readers might also be aware of dangerously close relationships between private corporations and universities and other public research facilities. Some articles address these issues, but the overall discussion of a “knowledge commons” is much broader. Articles also consider seeds, especially those that are genetically engineered and patents that attempt to “own” that knowledge, the implications of copyright, the appropriation of culture and questions around free access as opposed to subscriptions, among other things. In fact, the book covers so many aspects of knowledge and its possession that it’s difficult to evaluate the collection as a whole. Though the editors are professors, not all the authors represented here are academics. Some are graduate students, farmers, activists, ethicists or publishers. Perhaps that explains the breadth of the…

Overlooking Saskatchewan: Minding the Gap

Overlooking Saskatchewan: Minding the Gap Edited by Randal Rogers and Christine Ramsay Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $39.95 ISBN 9-780889-772922 If you’ve been to London, England, you’ll be familiar with the phrase “Mind the Gap,” a caution to tube-users re: stepping between the train and the platform. Randal Rogers and Christine Ramsay, joint editors of Overlooking Saskatchewan: Minding the Gap – a collection of diverse essays about Saskatchewan as seen through cultural, artistic and historical lenses – suggest their title is derived from the province’s experience of being overlooked: a metaphorical gap “between Calgary and Winnipeg, to be looked down on, literally, as one flies over.” The editors aspired to collect work that would have broad appeal “as a contribution to knowledge about Saskatchewan culture that builds upon important research,” and address the various “gaps” that have existed – or continue to exist – within the province. I surmise that the editors also wished to address why Saskatchewan should not be overlooked. They aimed to “authentically address what it means to live and belong in this place,” and they pulled in some heavy hitters to make their arguments. Although the book’s intended for both…

A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden
Thistledown Press / 26 April 2013

A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden by Stephen Reid Published by Thistledown Press Review by Hannah Muhajarine ISBN 978-1-927068-03-8 $18.95 I decided to try A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden: Writing from Prison because both the form (short non-fiction essays) and the topic (prison, as one might deduce from the subtitle) are outside the usual scope of my reading. I expected to learn something, and I definitely did. The tone ranges from tragic to humorous to poignant and back, sometimes within a single essay. Alongside difficult topics such as drug and sexual abuse, there are lighter sections on writing a poem for a fellow inmate’s girlfriend (“Dear Mona, / Roses are dead / Violets are doomed / As will be you / If you don’t visit soon”) and the trials of filling out the “Psychopathy Check List Revised”. The first essay describes the failed bank robbery which led to author Stephen Reid’s incarceration. The police chase through the streets of Victoria reads almost like a heist movie. But unlike a movie, there are real consequences to Reid’s actions, and he does not shy away from writing about the harm he caused to innocent civilians, as well as his own family….

Autumn Wind

“Autumn Wind” by Eusebio L. Koh Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Karen Lawson $14.95 ISBN 978-1-894431-45-3 Eusebio L. Koh spent many years ensconced within the walls of academia. He is a former university professor who taught Mathematics at the University of Regina. After retiring, his passion for writing snowballed into a desire to share his thoughts and ideas. He received positive feedback from his first book, Like the Mimosa , and he was inspired to write a second book. This latest offering is called Autumn Wind, and like his first book, it is a collection of short stories, poems and essays. The poems and stories are touching and heartwarming. Koh chooses subjects that are dear to his heart and are easy for the reader to relate to and identify with. From the simple joy of picking Saskatoon berries, to the deep love for his grandson, the author taps into his sensitive side and reveals a part of himself through his expressive language and his ability to tell a story that flows effortlessly. Koh shares his emotions and feelings in an honest, open way. He has that special gift that makes a writer endearing to his readers –…

Like the Mimosa

Like the Mimosa by Eusebio L. Koh Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Reviewed by Cindy Dean-Morrison $16.95 CDN ISBN 978-1-894431-22-4 Like the Mimosa by Filipino-Canadian author Eusebio L. Koh promises an exotic experience. It does not fail. Koh immediately transports the reader into his beloved Filipino world using brilliant descriptions, memorable characters, occasional Filipino words, and humour. He shares intimate truths via stories, poems and essays. In the short story section we are immediately pulled in by “Soap” which deals with the Japanese occupation of the Philippines at the start of WW II. Koh begins, “In times of war, life is as fragile as it gets.” One might expect dark events after that introduction, but Koh tells the story from a precocious boy’s viewpoint who has a great sense of humour and humanity. All the stories read as colourful history, studies in family dynamics, and explorations of cultural mores. Koh writes exquisitely crafted cinquains, sonnets, and free verse poems. He explores love, nature, war, faith and Saskatchewan prairie spirit. Perhaps common poetic themes, but Koh is anything but common in his approach. In fact, the poems are often surprising. Love, for example, is reflected in the poem “Theorems.” “Theorems…