2 Women 2 Generations 26 Poems

12 January 2024

2 Women 2 Generations 26 Poems
by Sheri Hathaway
Welcome Home Publishing
Review by Shelley A. Leedahl
$13.19 ISBN 9781738822348

I like to be surprised. Upon receiving the slim poetry collection 2 Women 2 Generations 26 Poems by Saskatoon’s Sheri Hathaway, I noted the book’s short, back cover description: “This is a mother-daughter project containing verse from two women of very different pasts,” and I fully expected that Hathaway—a grandmother of eight—had collaborated with a daughter on this collection of prairie-based poems. I was wrong. This book actually features the work of Hathaway and her mother, Louise (McLean) Hathaway, a former teacher who experienced the Great Depression and World War II. The elder poet died in 2009. Her daughter explains that she “didn’t know [her] mother wrote any poems,” but Sheri discovered them after her mother’s death “In her boxes of books, papers, photos and diaries”. Another surprise: both poets had published work in local publications.

The book mostly features Sheri Hathaway’s work; eight poems were penned by her mother, one of which, “Heart Cry,” is a fine example of showing emotion, rather than stating it. It begins: “Snow covers all./The brown mound of cloggy earth,/Our spray of mums,/gold, russet, and bronze for October,/The wreath of everlasting flowers/from his classmates”. Readers glean that the poet’s describing a child’s grave. The poem powerfully ends with three words: “our only son”. I also enjoyed the senior poet’s “My Childhood Home,” a descriptive piece written in quatrains. Rhyme was more commonly used when these poems were written, and she’s elected an ABCB rhyme scheme that doesn’t seem forced, ie: “Beneath the piano window/Stood the organ and its stool/Round which on Sunday evenings/Hymn singing is the rule”.

Interestingly, in organizing the poems for this book, Sheri Hathaway has included a prayer poem, “A Prayer for Family,” in her “Of Faith” section, and her mother’s section begins with “A Mother’s Prayer”. The latter piece was found “on the back of an old envelope with a grocery list on the other side and used as a bookmark”.

Christianity and the poets’ personal relationships with their God is evident in several of the pieces.

The younger Hathaway shows great diversity in her subject matter. She begins with two sprightly children’s poems, includes a humorous poem about being a young bride learning to ski, and also writes compelling pieces about making marmalade: when the winter sun streamed through the window, “The jars lit up like light bulbs, glowing orange and yellow as if lighted from the inside”. The poem “Thoughts from a cancer clinic waiting room” reveals a strong faith.

A freelance writer and watercolour artist, Sheri Hathaway was raised on a farm near Marwayne, AB. I consulted her website (sherihathaway.com) and learned that she’s “a former teacher and explorer of other occupations that now add fodder to her articles, poems, books and paintings.” The small graphics (not the author’s) dispersed throughout the book add to the generally upbeat tone of the poems, some of which earned prizes in contests.

Mother and daughter, different lives, similar passions for the prairies, poetry, and God’s “pure gold” love.


No Comments

Comments are closed.