A Dark House and Other Stories by Ian Colford

I never had an opportunity to read Ian Colford’s previous book, Perfect World (2016, Freehand Books), but I had read many positive thoughts about it on social media and elsewhere. For example, Naomi MacKinnon (of Consumed by Ink) said of it in a guest review here: “By writing this book, Ian Colford has given us a chance to vicariously experience a life that is hard for many of us to imagine.” Anne Logan (of I’ve Read This) said of Perfect World in her review: “Colford doesn’t feel the need to show empathy for his protagonist, but his respect for the reader is evident in his succinct and unsentimental sentences.”

A Dark House and Other Stories* is a collection of eight stories covering about 180 pages, so the stories here are not too short, but are long enough for character development, particularly of each protagonist’s thoughts which is a standout characteristic of Mr.… Continue reading

Inquiries: Poems by Michelle Porter

Michelle Porter is a Red River Métis poet, journalist, and editor. She holds degrees in journalism, folklore, and geography (Ph.D.). She currently lives in St. John’s Newfoundland. Inquiries is the debut collection of her poems.

I’m assuming that the book’s title is tied to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The poems within Inquiries are all tied together taking a hard look at the hardscrabble life of a Métis woman and her children eking out an existence near the Red River (and sometimes in NL), moving when the rent cannot be paid, leaving memories and items behind (a dollhouse that wouldn’t fit in the station wagon, gym sneakers left in a school locker).… Continue reading

Learning to Settle Down by Chad Norman

Chad Norman lives and works in Truro, Nova Scotia and Learning to Settle Down (2015, Black Moss Press) is his sixteenth published book of poetry. This was my first experience reading Mr. Norman’s poems and the impression I received after reading through them is his attention to the small things that surround us, so the title is most apropos.

From “Frost on a Fingernail” to “String on a Finger” to “Keeping Perfection Attainable” these are the poems of a man taking in the little day to day things and noting them in the way poets do.… Continue reading

New Brunswick by Shane Neilson

First impressions upon reading New Brunswick:

  • I felt like I went a few rounds with Yvon Durelle, the Fighting Fisherman, so hard-hitting is the emotional impact of this collection.
  • I was amazed at how much of New Brunswick’s history, current affairs and sense of place Mr. Neilson incorporates into his poems.

I tried to read New Brunswick in one sitting, but the power of his words forced me to put down this slim volume and pause.… Continue reading

Blue Bear Woman by Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau

Originally published in French as Ourse Bleu in 2007, Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau’s book has the distinction of being the first novel published in Quebec by an Indigenous woman. Now, English readers have Blue Bear Woman, a translation by Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli and published by Inanna Publications.* Blue Bear Woman is a powerful little novel of a mixed blood Cree/Métis woman (Victoria is her given name) searching for the memories of her past growing up in the James Bay area of Quebec.… Continue reading