Muskwa-Kechika Dayenu
JackPine Press / 1 April 2011

Muskwa-Kechika Dayenu Written and Illustrated by Dorothy Field Published by JackPine Press Reviewed by Kris Brandhagen $35 ISBN: 978-0-9782248-8-2 The poems in Dorothy Field’s Muskwa-Kechika Dayenu are physically about a journey in the Muskwa-Kechika mountains, and emotionally about grief. Pages of vivid poetry are stacked with imagery of prairie flora and fauna. “Dayenu” (pronounced Die-A-New) is Hebrew for ‘it would have been enough,’ a Passover song of gratitude. The first poem, “Transcribing Loon,” continues in a numbered sequence throughout the book, wherein the narrator recognizes sorrow and grief in the ‘sobbing’ of the loon. There are inteteresting colour combinations in “Before the Burn,” from an excited exploration of green to the “ravishing / red heat, blaze,” until the trees are black and the soil “charred”, suggesting destruction. The poem, however, comes full circle, describing the green of new life. “Into the Alpine” takes us on a mountain journey, suggesting that grief is “a glacial run-off”. “Past the end of trees,” into the alpine, grief is offered as a gift for the sky. The poem also suggests rebirth at the end with “I stretched my hand for willow fluff on taut bone stalks, / tough skeletons already supporting next year’s bloom”….

A Homemade Life
JackPine Press / 14 December 2010

A Homemade Life by Michael Trussler Published by JackPine Press Review by Kris Brandhagen Price: $35 ISBN: Gorgeous, personal, drawing up memories that conjure loss, Michael Trussler’s A Homemade Life is comprised of black and white photos and text, each a postcard unit to be rearranged on the whim of the reader. Presented in a box with a clear cover the handmade, limited edition book looks just like a package of postcards. Trussler proves himself to be well versed in the conventions of photography. The title image is a beach scene with a woman, made headless by the framing of the photograph, holding onto a leashed dog in the grassy foreground while behind them is a couple sunning themselves on lawn chairs in the sandy middle ground. The edge of a body of water is visible in the background. Intriguingly, all the figures are situated facing the photographer and not, as one might normally expect, the water. In almost perfect thirds, and with lots of windy motion, it is a successful photographic composition and a stunning hook. About twelve postcard pages in, just as I was beginning to wonder if there was a textual element to this book, the poetry…