In this poetic memoir, Katherine Lawrence rides the electric charge of childhood innocence to its moment of impact with adult manipulation and betrayal.
Black Umbrella offers a bold portrait of family breakdown through the lens of a child, a teenager, and later as an adult who approaches love with wariness and longing. These poems speak of long-held secrets, the bonds of love, strained loyalties, loss, and the courage required to embrace happiness through the thickening underbrush of adulthood.
A tough and tender collection that contributes to one of the most compelling narratives of the modern age - the contemporary family in transition.
About the author
Katherine Lawrence is a writer and fund development consultant whose poetry has appeared in literary journals across Canada and the U.K. Her work has also been performed on stage and broadcast on CBC radio.
Her first collection of poetry, Ring Finger, Left Hand (Coteau Books, 2001) won the Brenda Macdonald Riches Award for best first book with the Saskatchewan Book Awards. Her second collection, Lying to Our Mothers (Coteau Books, 2006) was short listed for the Anne Szumigalski Award and the Alfred G. Bailey Prize for poetry. She won the City of Regina Writing Award in 2014.
Past-president of the Sage Hill Writing Experience Board of Directors, former (Saskatchewan) representative for the League of Canadian Poets, Lawrence is Chair of the Access Copyright Foundation,
Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Katherine has lived in Saskatchewan since 1982. She is a graduate of Carleton University.
Excerpt: Black Umbrella (by (author) Katherine Lawrence)
From "An Early Evening Inside Out."
If you stop looking back over your shoulder, if you accept
that you miss her even while she's with you, if you don't look
ahead, you will honour all the bright and dark hours required
for a daughter to reach the dirt footpath eroded over time by
animals and humans, a path of desire cut across this green,
inner city park, you and your daughter walking the way
women have walked and talked and ached forever, the
evening's early hour, the massive dog she rescued as a pup
straining its leather lead.
These intimate and intertwined poems gleam with a tenderness that belies their tensile strength. Lawrence mines consequential moments with sharp insight, revealing fissures in her life and the lives of those closest to her. Here is a sure-footed poet whose inventive language wrests bittersweet wisdom and uncommon grace out of the ordinary. Black Umbrella is an extraordinary collection, rich and indelible.
--Lorri Neilsen Glenn, Following the River: Traces of Red River Women
The poems in Black Umbrella chart a lifetime's emotional weather in deft, compelling strokes. With insight, compassion, and piercing wit, Katherine Lawrence retraces the winds that blew her from steel town to prairie, mourns her losses, and reminds us that what we need is not the answers to all our questions, but "the true names." Black Umbrella is a beautiful, resonant book.
--Susan Olding, Big Reader and Pathologies: A Life in Essays
Katherine Lawrence's Black Umbrella delves into "the sub-rosa conspiracy of the psyche," unearthing memories like tiny fragments of bone. Deeply personal, this work is a fearless recounting of love and betrayal, arrivals and departures, childhood trauma, love again. "Sly as a butcher's thumb," Lawrence plays with language and imagery like a child with a knife. A precocious child. A sharp knife. Ultimately revealing a "brave, surefooted, animal self."
--Mari-Lou Rowley, Unus Mundus