The Negation of Chronology: Imagining Geraldine Moodie by Rebecca Luce-Kapler

There’s a photo I love. In black and white. My wife and I sharing a moment, having a laugh. We’d just completed a marathon, our first. And we’re sitting on a curb, exhausted, content, unaware our picture’s being taken. You see more in the black and white. Depth of character, emotion, the moment. Perhaps the same reason a book – black ink on white paper, conveys much more than a movie.

Now, to the present day. We were still in relative isolation. Distancing. When I received a virtual stack of books to read and review. Remarkably, I enjoyed each one. But simply by chance Rebecca Luce-Kapler’s The Negation of Chronology was my final read, as though fate, in its prescient wisdom, selected this title as my conclusion, a curtain drawn across a monochrome stage.

Our author opens this book of poems with a tone-setting quote from Geoff Dyer, In photography there is no meantime. There was just that moment and now there’s this moment and in between there is nothing. Photography, in a way, is the negation of chronology. And with that, we begin.

From Camera obscura: Early moments, this is All Hallow’s Eve (Oct 31, 1854):

A selkie slipped from salt water, / lingering gleam, / hair shot red. // She had breath but did not cry. // The Scottish midwife swore / at the second sight / in those milky blue eyes.

Which I understand, having kept company with fifty slick heads and a hundred eyes in penetrating earthen tones directly offshore on the Isle of Skye. If you’d told me they were selkies I’d have known you were telling the truth.

From Still life: The detachment, this, from Evening Primrose (Calgary, 1886):

She feathers paint along a faint pencil line, / a hint of pink shadow on the underside / of a flower that does its work after sundown, / its blossom a siren call for moths.

Still life and still, painter’s artistry from a photographer’s hand – creativity knows no single medium.

From Landscapes: A travelogue, this, from Beginning a Studio (Battleford):

I pull a sketchbook / from my apron pocket / shade a few lines: The North Saskatchewan / winding down the valley, soft whiskers / of foxtail grass and walls rising above, / my eyes measuring the light.

With intersection of words and pictures we join our author alongside her inspiration, Moodie no doubt casting eyes more than once on such a setting – prairie landscape, her Kodak canvas Canadiana, an expansive, escapist travelogue.

To conclude, from Time-Lapse: Composing a Life, our title poem, Negation of Chronology (Maple Creek 1909):

Dawn lights the kitchen moment by moment. // The icebox in the corner drips. / Embers in the stove lie dark and cold / beneath the hunched teakettle. // The kitchen waits for the traveller / to return, a cloak / thrown on the rocking chair, / a valise beside the table. It longs / for activity, imagines dinners / that fill the house with aromas / of ginger and carrots, roast of beef / with gravy, salt succulent in the air. Toast / from the oven, a ruby of raspberry jam. // Somewhere in the house / a clock keeps ticking.

Rebecca Luce-Kapler’s The Negation of Chronology is an immersive experience – colour, texture, aroma and sound – what artists strive to convey, be it rudimentary hues in two dimensions that capture volumes, or an amalgam of imagery akin to photographic emulsion, which, when applied as expertly as this, develops into much more.


About the Author: Rebecca Luce-Kapler has published over forty poems in a number of literary journals across Canada and is author of The Gardens Where She Dreams. Her book, Writing With, Through, and Beyond the Text: An Ecology of Language, has been used in numerous academic contexts. Currently, she is the Dean of the Faculty of Education, Queen’s University in Kingston, and finds that her work as a poet keeps her connected to beauty and calm, as does her home on a lake north of Kingston, Ontario.

About the Reviewer: Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of WIBA Finalist Gone Viking: A Travel Saga and Dromomania: A Wonderful Magical Journey. His Indie Folk CD is Studio 6. Bill’s poetry, columns and reviews are published in Canada, the US, UK, Europe and Asia. When not trekking the globe with a weatherproof journal, Bill can be found on Canada’s west coast, making friends and misbehaving.

The Negation of Chronology: Imagining Geraldine Moodie by Rebecca Luce-Kapler
Inanna Publications
ISBN: 978-1-77133-769-4
Pgs: 96 pp link

Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of A Season on Vancouver Island, the Gone Viking travelogues, and A Perfect Day for a Walk: The History, Cultures, and Communities of Vancouver, on Foot (Arsenal Pulp Press, Fall 2024). Recipient of a Fellowship at London’s Royal Geographical Society for his expeditions, Bill’s a frequent presenter and contributor to magazines, universities, podcasts, TV and radio. When not trekking with a small pack and journal, Bill can be found on Canada’s west coast, where he lives near the sea on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh land.