Gulf | Poetry by Leslie Vryenhoek
Listen: Leslie discusses Gulf on CBC's Weekend Arts Magazine
Leslie Vryenhoek's debut collection of poetry explores the nature of longing and belonging in a transient culture. From its first assertion: "A neighborhood, no matter / how known, will not slip whole / into your knapsack," these poems insist home is a portable assemblage of minutiae: the taste of dirt, the solace of Home Depot, a pennant of bone.
The poems loosely trace the author's journey from big-American-city suburb to small-town Canadian prairie, a transition aided by sardonic historical figures and a metric conversion chart. As the poems ricochet from coast to coast, Vryenhoek toes the U.S./Canadian border [that thin line a wide gulf] until crossing another gulf and arriving in Newfoundland, a place where being from/coming-from-away still holds sway in everyday dialogue.
Moving from solemn and meditative to saucy and irreverent, Gulf is a collision of natural elements and technology, native species and newcomers, the inevitable rending of families and the connective tissue of memory that ties us to place.
Gulf was shortlisted for the national Gerald Lampert Award.
Cover artwork: Flying West Across the Atlantic, One by Peter Wilkins
This book has a charged intelligence. Like one of the questing figures in it, it straddles the continent, articulating the gaps and disjunctions that create gulfs.... A beautiful debut. ~Mary Dalton