In 1954, at the age of sixteen, Marilyn Bell became the first person to swim across Lake Ontario. It brought her fame and adulation; her life seemed charmed. Enter Shirley Campbell, another young swimmer whose accomplishments were poised to rival Bell's, but in falling short in her own attempts to cross the Great Lake, she found herself spiraling out of control into a life of addiction, petty crime, and personal tragedies. Tanis Rideout weaves the tales of these two remarkable women together in a series of stunning, lyrical poems. It is a story of courage and triumph, but also one of adversity and redemption. This is an exhilarating book of poetry, at once tender and terrifying; like a cold dip in Lake Ontario, it will engulf you and leave you breathless. Arguments with the Lake confirms Rideout's arrival as a major new talent in Canadian letters.
Tanis Rideout's work has been shortlisted for several prizes, including the Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award for Emerging Writers and the CBC Literary Awards. In 2006, she was named the Poet Laureate for Lake Ontario by the environmental advocacy group Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and joined Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip on a tour to promote environmental justice on the lake.
"The listless, monolithic hulk of Lake Ontario looms large in this stellar collection of interconnected poems by Tanis Rideout... By plunging into the aquatic depths of [Marilyn Bell and Shirley Campbell's] fictionalized emotional lives, Rideout pulls off a poetic rendering of two historical figures that is as consuming as it is invigorating." - Free Range Reading
"The poems also examine the darker forces of friendship, of womanhood, of what inevitably follows girldom, stardom. The lake itself is Rideout's main character though throughout the book, speaking back to each of the girls' arguments, enduring but ever-changing... I loved this book." - Pickle Me This
"There are risks in writing about real people and real events?that delicate balance between a commitment to the recorded past and the freedom to reinterpret important moments to suit art. Tanis Rideout once again proves adept at navigating these shifting currents." - Arc