The Saskatchewan Secret
Benchmark Press / 27 January 2010

The Saskatchewan Secret: Folk Healers, Diviners, and Mystics of the Prairies by Jacqueline Moore Published by Benchmark Press Review by Shanna Mann $19.95 ISBN 978-0-9813243-2-6 It was inspiring to read about people with the intestinal fortitude to live unconventional lives. In our scientific, logical world that kind of nonconformity separates us from our fellow man at the same time as we learn the underlying truth– we are more inter-connected than we believe. Jacqueline Moore wisely advises readers in the preface, “‘Reality’ is a curious word–it sounds undeniable, authoritative, scientific. But it’s a completely subjective concept… These individuals are truthfully depicting their version of reality; however, one’s personal version must not be — can not be — the whole, entire, and complete reality…I would ask that you simply accept that these are other good people’s real experiences; and that you keep an open mind.” On one hand, many of the stories lined up with my personal beliefs, and perhaps I like the book simply because it makes me feel “right.” But on the other hand, when you read about faith healers invoking the Virgin Mary or Jesus and getting phenomenal results (an event which before reading this book I would have…

Gabriel’s Beach
Hagios Press / 13 January 2010

Gabriel’s Beach by Neal McLeod Published by Hagios Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $17.95 ISBN 978-0-9783440-5-4 “With the stories and the strength of our ancestors, we can find our home in the river again.” These are among the introductory words of Neal McLeod, a writer, visual artist, film-maker, comedian, and professor at Trent University in Peterborough, ON, and in his poetry collection Gabriel’s Beach, we find some of the stories and individuals this champion of Cree and Métis culture pays homage to. The “Gabriel” of the title is the poet’s mosôm (grandfather), a respected soldier who fought at Juno Beach, “where thunder met\the water,” and one of the many ancestors from whom the poet draws strength during his own personal battles. McLeod thanks Gabriel for “teaching us that that fire of the beach helps us to survive and keeps us from surrender,” but admits that in his own life, he has been a “son of a lost river, unable to hold the fire of Gabriel’s beach.” The book’s first section is a mostly serious tribute to Gabriel and others, and it relays some of the war horrors Gabriel and fellow soldiers experienced: “hunger made them crazy\stomachs empty\vessels without holding\they…

%d bloggers like this: