I received this book from bookcrosser NWPassage last summer. Over the past few months, I've picked this book up and set it down without reading it several times - not being in a poetry mood. However New Year's Day was spent just relaxing and I found myself curling up on the sofa with a cup of tea, a blanket and this book. I'm glad that I finally got into the right head space to read this collection.
Poet Kate Braid found her inspiration to write this collection from a brief meeting of the two painters Georgia O'Keefe and Emily Carr in February 1930 at a showing of O'Keefe's paintings in New York. It was a brief meeting, Emily Carr spent more time describing one of the painting in her journal than the actual meeting. However Kate Braid used this meeting as an inspiration to expand it into what would have happened had the two women become friends. What would happen if they were to visit each other's place of living and areas of inspiration for their paintings. O'Keefe in her New Mexican Desert, and Carr in her British Columbian forests.
The poems are told in the voice of Georgia O'Keefe, and explore the relationships an artist has with the land they paint The struggle they have with making their art, and the tenuous and often unpredicted power of friendship.
I'm a fan of O'Keefe's paintings, and have been since I was very young. One of the things I loved best about this collection was the fact that the author interspersed her poems with found poems gleaned from O'Keefe's own letters. These helped build a layer of depth on top of the wonderfully written poems to create an extremely powerful and moving collection of poetry.
There are two poems I want to save here to remeber once I share the book with someone else.
Last night I dreamed the blood
ran in my veins like skeins of thread
each thread a different colour
as my heart beat scarlet
chartreuse, cerulean blue.
I awoke knowing that when I am an old woman
I shall live on cactus and thread.
Bone to bone
I am embedded now
in this land
deep as a tick on a mangy old dog.
No matter how hard you scratch
You can't budge me now.
I shall die here, hot
and clean, finally
the faraway nearby.
Publication Date: January 2000
Publisher: Polestar Book Publishers