Gulf explores the nature of longing and belonging in a transient culture. From its opening assertion, 'A neighborhood, no matter / how known, will not slip whole / into your knapsack,' the collection contends home is a portable assortment of minutiae: the taste of dirt, the solace of Home Depot, a pennant of bone. Opening on a child's displacement, the poems loosely trace the author's journey from American suburbia 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.
Leslie Vryenhoek was born in the United States and raised in Pittsburgh. She immigrated to Manitoba in the 1980s, and now lives in St. John's, Newfoundland, where she works as a communications consultant and an editor on Riddle Fence. Her poetry, fiction and memoir have been published across Canada and internationally, and have won numerous awards, including the Winston Collins/Descant Prize for Best Canadian Poem in 2010. She is the author of Scrabble Lessons: Stories, published by Oolichan in 2009. Gulf is her first collection of poetry.