Unromantic poems examining life, love, illness, and death on a ranch on the hard grass prairie.
In Nora Gould's one-of-a-kind debut, the Prairie itself is a central character: muse, mythic persona, the place of deepest solace and of deepest questioning. The poems focus with great firmness and technical command on the facts of daily life on the farm: impregnating cows, the neighbour kid picking off a coyote, cutting hay, getting water to the herd in a drought, dehorning. But Prairie anecdotalism this ain—t. What is breathtaking about this book is the relation between its exactness of observation and the grief, horror, and beauty that it documents. What the voice achieves, in its very gestures, is a kind of transcendence: not with the purpose of avoiding pain, but in order to make all of it—all of it'seeable and feelable by a human being.
"Fear," as Gould says "resides in anticipation and in the afterwards, the what-might-have-been and the badger of again." In the white light of the now, there is no room for it, there is room only for concentration, a precise surgical rendering of details, so that we may sense everything else—the unspeakable—disposing itself in the space around that blaze of attention.
About the author
Nora Gould writes from east central Alberta where she ranches with her family. She graduated from the University of Guelph in 1984 with a degree in veterinary medicine. Her debut poetry collection, I see my love more clearly from a distance (Brick Books, 2012), was winner of the 2013 Robert Kroetsch Edmonton Book Prize and the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry (Writers Guild of Alberta); it was also shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and was a finalist in the Poetry category for the High Plains Book Awards.
"In the spirit of Robert Kroetsch, Gould has provided us with a glimmering example of honest, ethical writing. I consider it amongst the finest rural poetry I—ve encountered in years" — Matthew Hall, Cordite Poetry Review (Australia)
"Gould's work is wonderfully descriptive and detailed, and I think she does a great job showcasing the prairies and ranching life." — Alexis Kienlen, Alberta Daily Herald
"[D]istinct among the recent poetry I—ve read — successful in resisting any tendency to romanticize the natural world while demonstrating reverence for it, instead, allowing the images and memories she draws to settle in to place as things grow or fail." — Alison LaSorda, Lemon Hound