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Alien, Elizabeth.

Moose Jaw, Coteau Books, c1984. 65pp, paper, ISBN 0-919926-37-1 (cloth) $14.00, 0-919926-36-3 (paper) $6.00. Distributed by Thunder Creek Publishing Co-operative. CIP

Reviewed by Vivienne Denton

Volume 13 Number 2
1985 March

Published by Thunder Creek Co-op, a press formed to publish prairie writing, this book of poetry chronicles the life of a woman on a prairie farm. For Elizabeth Alien, a Saskatchewan poet born in New Zealand, the landscape is a primary source of inspiration. The rhythms of the seasons in wildlife, agricultural activities, and human consciousness are the chief subject of her poems.

Life, as exemplified by the rural landscape of Elizabeth Alien's poetry, is a brutal cycle. Images of homemade butter, warm farmhouses, and fall abundance, are counterpointed with descriptions of diseased cattle, carcasses of dead animals, love turned cold, and the hard Saskatchewan winter.

There is an elegiac note to the volume. Death and loss, the passing of generations and of the seasons are pervasive themes. Several poignant poems refer to the New Zealand landscape of the author's childhood, obliterated from her consciousness and supplanted by the prairie landscape.

The free form, unpunctuated poetry in this pleasingly designed book is complemented by several prairie landscapes by Saskatchewan artist Lorna Russell.

Vivienne Denton, Toronto, Ont.
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