In the presence of something awe-inspiring, whether it’s music, painting, theatre, dance or writing, one part of me looks for design while another just surrenders. I experienced both impulses reading Russell Thornton’s The Broken Face: it was so beautiful I had to surrender, but I also had to seek a design so I could comprehend its beauty.
Laisha Rosnau’s latest book is a beautifully crafted suite of poems about generations of incredibly tough, joyous and risk-taking Ukrainian women whose stories mirror a spectrum of immigrant history, especially Canadian history. The poems range widely from past to present―from young women ending up on brutal Saskatchewan homesteads after the turn of the last century, fleeing the usual mix of poverty and patriarchy, to another generation of young women, one hundred years later, being bought and sold on Eastern European websites, trying to escape the same things―and in that combination and reach, the poems achieve a complex acoustic filled with hunger, voices and a silent persistence that survives. It’s a vast story.