Nellie McClung’s poems in Come Dance With Me In Ireland are imbued with intelligence, humour and compassion. We read in her poem “Eric Christ” of a spiritual young man from Quebec who “summers in Canada” before continuing on to California. We join McClung in “Downing Daquiris with Fidel & Discussing Moncada,” in which we see Fidel Castro made ordinary through the poet’s comic eye. We enjoy “Spice Box”—a title that alludes to Leonard Cohen—which is also McClung’s tribute to the poets and poems that moved her, including Keats, Coleridge, W.C. Williams, Ginsberg, Lorca and Shelley; she makes all of them seem like her personal friends. And that’s the beauty of Nellie McClung’s poems: it is her ability to make the world more familiar, human and engaging. In the poetry of Nellie McClung we can enjoy a good laugh, or a good cry. “Thank you Poetry,” she writes, “for what you have given me/ Where you have led me.” This Selected Poems is a testament to McClung’s vision, which is one of love and reverence for all living beings.
About the author
Nellie McClung was one of the most important leaders in Canada's first wave of feminism and social reform. She was a member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the Women's Equity League, which were concerned with the health issues related to alcohol and the social problems facing women and children. She was also a member of the Canadian Women's Press Club and later, the Edmonton Equal Franchise league, which fought for women's rights, prohibition and factory safety legislation. In 1921, she was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and, in 1927, joined Emily Murphy, Irene Parlby, Louise Mckinney and Henrietta Edwards in their fight to have women declared "persons" under the law. Throughout the 1930s, McClung's writing career flourished with the publication of numerous newspaper articles, short stories, a novel and two memoirs. McClung was also the first woman appointed to the CBC's Board of Directors. Through her positions with the Canadian Authors' Association and Canadian Women's Press Club she was a strong promoter of women's writing and cultural nationalism. She died in 1951 in Victoria, B.C.
Other titles by Nellie McClung
The Valiant Nellie McClung
Selected Writings by Canada's Most Famous Suffragist
Early Voices — Portraits of Canada by Women Writers, 1639–1914
The Stream Runs Fast
Clearing in the West
My Own Story
I Hate Wives!
Salt Whistle Bay
Through the Field with Gloves Off: Short Fiction by Nellie L. McClung