Mere (Harper $28)

Still pursued for her part in violent student protests against the Vietnam War, the fugitive Faye tries to protect and raise her adolescent daughter, Mere. They leave their boat twice a year to pick up envelopes of cash in Toronto. The daughter of this mother/daughter writing team, Esta, is a screenwriter in Vancouver. 0-00-225538-3

[BCBW Autumn 2001]

Lost August

Esta Spalding has won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award for her poetry book, Lost August.


Lost August (Anansi $19.95)

Esta Spalding’s third book, Lost August (Anansi $19.95), is an uneven collection by a gifted young writer. It begins with a fine poem, “Apart, I Send You News Of Lions,” a loving one-sided dialogue with a step-parent which moves, without the burden of a clear narrative line, amongst random assertions about absence and loss. Many of the poems that follow seem too discursive and talky, with information that is obviously important to the speaker, but which is not really necessary to the poem or the reader. “May, Pregnant” is an exception, a short lyrical descriptive piece about spring, which includes a wonderfully mind-bending observation about boats under full sail: “The wind’s a decision / they didn’t make.”
The final section called “A Yellow Dress” more than redeems the collection, beginning with a meditative prose sequence about the sea and its cargo of metaphors. “Everything that drowns returns to us as cargo, the ones we carry,” is a line that recalls Anne Michaels’ philosophical asides and speaks to me of the drowned grandfather I have carried with me for fifty years. In the loosely structured sequence “August” we are offered glorious vegetable rebellion (“Skin-tight with longing, like dangerous / girls, the tomatoes reel, drunk / from the vine.”) and an allusion to women whose presence “changes the quality of air.” 0-88784-635-1


Anchoress (Anansi)

Esta Spalding of Vancouver has won first prize in the National Poetry Contest sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets. Her most recent collection is Anchoress (Anansi).