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Topic: Jean Van Loon

No yard lights for miles, like an eye put out: Sheri Benning’s Field Requiem

Sheri Benning grew up on a farm in central Saskatchewan. During her lifetime, agriculture on the prairies shifted from farms like her family’s 160 acres to ones measured in thousands of acres and cultivated by industrial methods. This powerful book, written with intelligence, love and artistry, is a requiem for a lost landscape, way of life, and community, as well as lost individuals—family, friends, and community members. It is also a heartfelt critique of exploitative techniques that destroy so much in bringing abundance to market.

Poetic Tools Well Wielded: This Was the River by John Pass

This Was The River is the twentieth book published by John Pass. The collection consists of lyrics, usually not more than a page and a half, shaped mostly into couplets or tercets, for an airy, spare feel. In the collection—often within a single poem—Pass weaves his preoccupations with writing (his own and others’), family, aging, and the state of the natural world. The work’s meticulous technique reflects his deep experience.

Contemplation for the Unchurched: Years, Months, and Days by Luke Hathaway

Luke Hathaway’s small and beautiful book should be on your bedside table even if it is as heaped as mine. Just 4” by 5” and fewer than 70 pages, the book consists of untitled, spare, and simply-worded poems which evoke the cycles of life, the seasons, and human longing for meaning and connection. The poems expand in your head, opening your mind to matters beyond the day-to-day.

Their Elephant is Longing for Hindustan: Nilofar Shidmehr’s Between Lives

Between Lives, Nilofar Shidmehr’s second book of poetry, is dedicated “to all who live a diasporic life.” Raised in Iran, now living in Canada, Shidmehr knows that life intimately, and explores its dimensions through finely crafted poems that pull the reader into a different world.