Swedes’ Ferry
Coteau Books / 14 May 2014

Swedes’ Ferry by Allan Safarik Published by Coteau Books Review by Keith Foster $19.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-561-0 Swedes’ Ferry is a double-barrelled adventure tale, and author Allan Safarik lets loose with both barrels blazing. His novel has a cast of colourful characters, some based on actual historical people like North-West Mounted Police Commissioner Lawrence Herchmer, others fictional but very much imbued with the breath of life. The search for a tall man who robbed a bank in Bismarck, North Dakota, killed the manager, and galloped away on a stolen powerhouse of a horse leads two Pinkerton detectives to Regina in 1894. There they try to enlist the aid of the imperious Herchmer, who proves unco-operative. Their break in the case comes from two attractive “spies” operating in a brothel above a Chinese restaurant. The tall man is aided by Bud Quigley, an astute horse trader, who brokers the deal of a lifetime with James J. Hill, president of the Great Northern Railway and owner of the First National Bank that was robbed. A ferry, operated by two Swedish brothers, plays a pivotal role in the tall man’s attempt to retrieve his hidden stash of $44,000. With a background as a poet,…

The Day is a Cold Grey Stone
Hagios Press / 13 August 2010

The Day is a Cold Grey Stone by Allan Safarik Published by Hagios Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $17.95 ISBN 978-1-926710-04-4 Prolific and critically-acclaimed poet Allan Safarik has reached the point in his career where a “New and Selected” anthology of his work is well-warranted. Safarik’s made Dundurn, SK his home for many years, but he hails from – and is inexorably bound to – the West Coast, and it’s that watery landscape which receives his literary attention in The Day is a Cold Grey Stone. Safarik’s introduction explains his steadfast connection with Vancouver; the ocean and its myriad creatures; birds (as a boy the poet sold squabs in Chinatown); and the colourful characters (family included) he’s encountered along the way. The metaphoric and somewhat serious-sounding title is not representative of the work en total, which is often playful and entertaining, ie: a herring gull’s “like a starved\chicken with a complex.” There are numerous reminiscences from the writer’s childhood – running after the ice man’s truck; jumping off a garage roof; inhaling the sweet, blue smoke from his Czech grandfather’s Cuban cigars – and anecdotes about folks, including the toothless and wine-stained man in “Fish Candy”: “[He] digs his…

Hagios Press / 29 April 2009

It’s clear that the poet also keeps one eye on the larger world, fraught as it is with economic crises, ecological issues, and war. Safarik, then, is the best kind of seer

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