Terry Jordan (CBC)
SCENE wants to know what personalities in Manitoba are reading.
Saskatoon author Terry Jordan is this year's Writer-in-Residence at the Winnipeg Public Library. Terry will be working with local writers by giving individual consultations and workshops, in addition to doing his own writing.
Books that Terry has written include It's a Hard Cow (Saskatchewan Book Award and Commonwealth Book Prize nominee); and Beneath That Starry Place which was described by the Globe & Mail as "an achingly beautiful book."
Terry told us about a book he stumbled upon called Girlwood by Winnipeg writer Jennifer Still.
I discovered Girlwood at The Frenchway cafe and bakery on Lilac Street. By that I mean I found it. I noticed it on the table only after I was sitting and I immediately rose thinking I had taken someone else's place. Lost, I wondered, this book?
No one approached to claim it and so I opened it to the first page. There, on a tangerine Post-it note in old-fashioned cursive script was written, "Read this, treasure it and pass it on." And so I did. I have. And I will.
Reading these poems changed me. As good books should, as great books will. I sat stilled, pinching a page to hold my place, transported away from the corporeal and into the world of an earlier and certain Winnipeg. 1980's Polaroid images: watching their colours develop, their stories appear.
I silently thank the note-writer, the book-giver, for this gift. Maybe this is something we all should do. I'm putting Girlwood back now, returning it to where I found it. To be rediscovered. It's going back to The Frenchway cafe, on the middle table against the wall, if you're lucky, and you hurry.
More on Girlwood by Jennifer Still:
In Girlwood, Jennifer Still's second collection, her poems come of age: they take the dare; they cross out of sapling and into maturity's thicket.
But the poems don't leave the girl behind, they bring her along: as sylph, as raconteur, as witness, as pure, unstoppable bravado. These songs of liberation and confinement arise from the rich and mysterious connection between mother and daughter.
Here, the mother figure is as vulnerable as the daughter, caged by domestic duty, by the fear that snakes through sexuality, the longing and the repulsion that accompany mortal desire. The daughter is at once compassionate and defiant.
This is the paradox at the heart of this collection. "Mother, divine me," Jennifer Still writes, and later, "Mother, spare me." Between these two phrases, which are both plea and command, we experience all the tangled pathways between mother and daughter, the cries of devotion and the congested laments.