AELAQ     Current Issue     Archives     How to get mRb  
Thirteenth Issue
Volume 7, No. 1
 





features

O Mordecai, Where Art Thou?
By Juan Rodriguez


fiction

Quebecite: A Jazz Fantasia In Three Cantos
Reviewed by Kelly Murphy

A House By The Sea
Reviewed by Ian McGillis

The Speaking Cure
Reviewed by Mark Heffernan

The Applecross Spell
Reviewed by Eleni Zisimatos Auerbach

Universal Recipients
Reviewed by Eleni Zisimatos Auerbach

Black Bird
Reviewed by X.I. Selene

A Sunday At The Pool In Kigali
Reviewed by Edward R. Smith

Song For My Father
Reviewed by Mary Soderstrom

The Heart Is An Involuntary Muscle
Reviewed by Kim Bourgeois

Another Book About Another Broken Heart
Reviewed by Poppy Wilkinson

Without Cease The Earth Faintly Trembles
Reviewed by Jessica Ticktin


fiction at a glance

After All!
Reviewed by Margaret Goldik

Moosehead Anthology #9: Career Suicide! Contemporary Literary Humour
Reviewed by Ian McGillis


non-fiction

Respectable Burial: Montreal's Mount Royal Cemetery
Reviewed by Margaret Goldik

Shoshanna's Story: A Mother, A Daughter, And The Shadows Of History
Reviewed by Elizabeth Johnston

Louis Riel
Reviewed by Philip Hawes

Tables For One: A Spanish Journal
Reviewed by Sarah Rosenfeld

Practice Imperfect
Reviewed by Joan Eyolfson Cadham

Ha! A Self-murder Mystery
Reviewed by Anne Cimon

Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages
Reviewed by Jill Rollins


non-fiction at a glance

Womankind
Reviewed by Margaret Goldik

A Love Of Reading: The Second Collection
Reviewed by Margaret Goldik

Entering The War Zone: A Mohawk Perspective On Resisting Invasions
Reviewed by Margaret Goldik

Drive I-95: Exit By Exit Info, Maps, History And Trivia
Reviewed by Margaret Goldik

Crooked Smile
Reviewed by Margaret Goldik

Four Hundred Brothers And Sisters
Reviewed by Margaret Goldik

After Notman: Montreal Views - A Century Apart
Reviewed by Ian McGillis



poetry

Snow Formations
Reviewed by Bert Almon

In The Worshipful Company Of Skinners
Reviewed by Bert Almon

Bamboo Church
Reviewed by Bert Almon

An Abc Of Belly Work
Reviewed by Bert Almon




young readers

Emma's Story
Reviewed by Carol-Ann Hoyte

The Mole Sisters And The Fairy Ring
Reviewed by Carol-Ann Hoyte

The Mole Sisters And The Way Home
Reviewed by Carol-Ann Hoyte

Learning With Animals
Reviewed by Carol-Ann Hoyte

Sink Or Swim
Reviewed by Carol-Ann Hoyte

Suki's Kimono
Reviewed by Carol-Ann Hoyte

Peter's Pixie
Reviewed by Carol-Ann Hoyte

A Friend For Sam
Reviewed by Carol-Ann Hoyte

Sam's First Halloween
Reviewed by Carol-Ann Hoyte

Tales Of Court And Castle
Reviewed by Carol-Ann Hoyte

Think For Yourself: A Kid's Guide To Solving Life's Dilemmas And Other Sticky Problems
Reviewed by Carol-Ann Hoyte

Nellie Mcclung: Voice For The Voiceless
Reviewed by Carol-Ann Hoyte




In The Worshipful Company Of Skinners
By Endre Farkas
$12
paper 112 pp.
J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing 0-920486-51-7
poetry


Printer friendly         Send to a friend

New Document Endre Farkas is also fascinated by the North. His Worshipful Company of Skinners, based on journals of Hudson's Bay Company traders, took five years to write. Farkas has worked and reworked the words of the journals into approximations of poems. Only approximations: these texts do not have the inspired quality of the best found poems. The language too often uses stilted expressions, especially inversions of subject and verb. Perhaps this passage is simply drawn verbatim from a log or journal:

Land not unlike my own beloved Isle,
Which the sun first blesses, which the heavens
Keep watch over, and which the sea embraces
Like a shimmering diamond necklace.


To string together the accounts, Farkas creates an anonymous narrator, an Orkneyman whose Hudson's Bay Company experiences are representative. He comes to the North as an apprentice at thirteen, rises in the company hierarchy after many adventures and hardships, and ends up leaving his Native wife (his "winter dictionary" was the term) to become a bourgeois in Montreal, married to a spendthrift shrew too stereotyped to be convincing. It would have helped the narrative if Farkas had been more specific about the time and geographical locations.

Here and there Farkas has found some lively materials in his sources, like the terrifying story of the manager who keeps the Natives subdued by threatening them with a bottle which he claims is full of smallpox. The best poems are not the ones about people in the north (like the Bois Brulé, the coureurs de bois and the voyageurs) but the ones about the beaver and the buffalo. Both poems have keenly observed details, no doubt because his sources were fascinated by such exotic beings. "The Beaver" explains the name of the book. The "Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay" has four black beavers as part of its heraldry:

The Beaver is on The Company's Coat of Arms
Whose motto is Pro Pelle Cutem

This the men translate as
By any means we'll skin you.


Sharp practice indeed. The Latin phrase simply means "a skin for a skin," which implies fair play. The book gives some interesting background about this phase of Canadian history, but it would have been more effective if Farkas had reproduced journals in their original forms rather than trying to fashion the materials into naïve poems. The naiveté is in the narrator, not the poet, but the reader still flinches. Farkas might have spent his five years writing a prose history of the Company from the point of view of the traders; he still could.

Bert Almon's newest book, Hesitation Before Birth, was published by Beach Holme Press.