Your Very Own
JackPine Press / 22 June 2022

Your Very Ownby John NymanPublished by JackPine PressReview by Elena Bentley$30.00 ISBN 9781927035443 As soon as I saw Your Very Own by John Nyman, I knew I had to read it. Because what 80s and 90s kid didn’t love reading the Choose Your Own Adventure series? I certainly did. Now, as an adult, I also love erasure poetry, and this chapbook published by JackPine Press is a delightful combination of both. Nyman, a visual poet and erasurist with a PhD in theory and criticism, calls himself “a theorist posing as an artist.” For those unfamiliar with erasure (sometimes called whiteout or blackout poetry), it’s a form of poetry where the poet or visual artist removes certain words from the original work; thus, producing a new poem. Your Very Own uses as its source text Choose Your Own Adventure #43: Grand Canyon Odyssey (1985) by Jay Leibold and Don Hedin. Divided into three sections “composed of three voices, or three ventures,” Your Very Own acts as “a kind of excavation.” “Much of what it excavates,” writes Nyman, “are products of a worldview that is cruel, ignorant, unjust, and violent.” Nyman trusts that we, as readers, not only “see this worldview as…

Baba Sophie’s Ukrainian Cookbook
Millenium Marketing / 22 June 2022

Baba Sophie’s Ukrainian CookbookWritten by Marion Mutala, Illustrated by Wendy SiemensPublished by Millennium MarketingReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$24.95 ISBN 9781777371333 I’m no great wonder in the kitchen– if I am cooking, I usually turn to the internet for recipes. Recently, however, I’ve started buying cookbooks. Two reasons for this: firstly, each time I click on a recipe online, I have to wade through paragraphs of unnecessary text (i.e. “My uncle Bob just loves these blackberry muffins”) before the author even gets to the ingredients; and secondly, I just love actual books, and seeing the recipe on a printed page – often beside a photograph of whatever I’m attempting to make – feels like the right tact. Thus, I was duly pleased when Marion Mutala’s latest book arrived in my mailbox because this time, the prolific and award-winning Saskatchewan writer has penned Baba Sophie’s Ukrainian Cookbook. I’ve previously reviewed Mutala’s excellent children’s books and poetry, and I know that from the words to the design, production to the print, this would be a quality book and downright practical too (and I need all the help I can get). The Sophie of the title is Mutala’s mother, Sophie Marie (née Dubyk) Mutala…

Mind the Gap
Wood Dragon Books / 22 June 2022

Mind the Gap: Navigating Your Leadership Journeyby Doug Forsdick, Keri Schwebius, and Heather ThomsonPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Toby A. Welch$19.99 ISBN 9781989078846 Like the title spells out, Mind the Gap covers how to become a more effective leader, but it is much more than that. It is geared towards leadership in the workplace, but those not interested in career leadership advice will also get valuable information from the pages. Additionally, employees will find the information helpful as they contemplate workplace situations. This book is divided into four areas of leadership: ‘focus on you’, ‘plot the course and steer the way’, ‘maneuver within your organization’, and ‘continue the journey’. We read about the differences between managers and leaders, the role your values play in leadership, how to have difficult conversations, and many other aspects of leadership. Each chapter ends with Reflection Questions, a list of questions to get you thinking about your own leadership journey and how you want to grow. They are powerful questions that can lead to hours of contemplation. My favourite chapter is #20: “Getting Sh*t Done.” It shares how to create a system to help you accomplish what needs to get done. It also touches…

Carrying the Burden of Peace

Carrying the Burden of Peaceby Sam McKegneyPublished by University of Regina PressReviewed by Madonna Hamel$34.95 ISBN 9780889777934 From the first sentence of his book, Carrying the Burden of Peace, author Sam McKegney poses questions big enough for all of us to embrace, questions asking for new ways to scrutinize our world: “Can a critical examination of Indigenous masculinities be an honour song?” he asks. Can it “celebrate rather pathologize”? How do we hold institutions accountable and yet still “validate and affirm” the people who need validating and affirming? How do we entertain change without “fixing new terms of engagement”? His most pressing question: “Can an examination of Indigenous masculinities be an embodied enterprise?” Makes me think: If it can’t we are all doomed, because nowhere in the wider culture have I found a people more effective at embodiment – through humour, creativity, eros, and spirit – than Indigenous communities. The title of McKegney’s book comes from the Kanien’keha:ka word for “warrior”, which when translated, reads: “those who carry the burden of peace.” (This gives me pause, once again, to consider what we lose and have lost, intentionally and unintentionally, in translation.) McKegney quotes activist and artist Ellen Gabriel, who says:…

Finding Izzy
Wood Dragon Books / 22 June 2022

Finding Izzyby Sheryl DohertyPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Toby A. Welch$18.99 ISBN 9781989078662 Finding Izzy is a dense book, almost 300 pages with a small font. But that is a great thing for the readers – it gives the author enough space to flesh out an engrossing story that pulls you in from page one.  Speaking of page one, that is where the action begins. In the opening scene, the main character, Izzy, wakes up in a hospital with no idea who she is. She sees a news story on TV about missing Indigenous women and is convinced she is one of them. She shares her theory with the two police officers who are trying to figure out who she is; they aren’t convinced she’s right. Once discharged from the hospital, Izzy is taken to a temporary emergency home in North Vancouver as Family Services believes she is under 18. From there the story takes off as police try to identify her through dental implants, fingerprints, and distinguishing marks.  Although this is a work of fiction, it is fascinating to ride along with the main character on her journey with amnesia. Doherty does a superb job of dropping us…