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Poetry General


by (author) Nancy Holmes

Ronsdale Press
Initial publish date
Aug 2005
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2005
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Motherhood-personal, historical, mythological. Mandorla is all about mothers and children, especially the mothering of challenging children, children with disabilities. In the first section of Nancy Holmes' new collection of poems, the Virgin Mary is the archetypal suffering mother who worries about the fate of her son. Through a poetic re-drawing of the hieratic poses of icons of the Virgin in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Holmes comes to recognize the fear and absolute love for a childwho is fated to be different.

The second section moves out of cultural myth into family history, the Ukrainian side of the poet's family, people who settled in north-eastern Alberta in the first years of the twentieth century. These poems use images drawn from domestic fairy tales and the family farm, tracking imagined inner lives of immigrant children. Through speculation, magic and distorted family stories, Holmes explores not only the damage of mental disability, cultural displacement and corrosive prejudice, but also the beauty and social isolation of rural Alberta.

In the last section of the book, the author focuses on her own experience of motherhood, its pain and comedy, its bewilderment and bedazzlement, its crushing collisions with schools and social systems. Holmes creates a triptych that opens up some of the emotional and spiritual adventure of being a parent, that most heart-breaking yet enriching of human roles, past or present.

About the author


Nancy Holmes has published four collections of poetry, most recently Mandorla (2005). She has lived in Alberta, Ontario, and, most recently, British Columbia, where she teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia Okanagan in Kelowna.

Don McKay has published eight books of poetry. Among his many awards are the Governor General’s Award in 1991 (for Night Fields) and in 2000 (for Another Gravity). He was shortlisted for the 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize for Camber and was the Canadian winner in 2007 for Strike/Slip. Born in Owen Sound, Ontario, Don McKay has been active as an editor, creative writing teacher, and university instructor, as well as a poet. He lives in Newfoundland.


Nancy Holmes' profile page

Other titles by Nancy Holmes


by (author) Nancy Holmes

Flicker Tree, The

Okanagan Poems

by (author) Nancy Holmes

Open Wide a Wilderness

Canadian Nature Poems

edited by Nancy Holmes
by (author) Don McKay

Writing the Terrain

Travelling Through Alberta with the Poets

contributions by Ian Adam, Robert Stamp, Tammy Armstrong, Margaret Avison, Douglas Barbour, John O. Barton, Doug Beardsley, Bonnie Bishop, E.D. Blodgett, Robert Boates, George Bowering, Tim Bowling, Jan Boydol, Gordon Burles, Murdoch Burnett, Anne Campbell, Weyman Chan, Leonard Cohen, Dennis Cooley, Joan Crate, Michael Cullen, Cyril Dabydeen, Lorne Daniel, Alexa DeWiel, Jason Dewinetz, ryan fitzpatrick, Cecelia Frey, Gary Geddes, Gail Ghai, Deborah Godin, Jim Green, Leslie Greentree, Vivian Hansen, Tom Henihan, Michael Henry, Walter Hildebrandt, Gerald Hill, Robert Hilles, Nancy Holmes, Richard Hornsey, Tom Howe, Aislinn Hunter, Bruce Hunter, Laurence Hutchman, Sally Ito, Pauline Johnson, Aleksei Kazuk, Robert Kroetsch, Fiona Lam, William Latta, Tim Lilburn, Alice Major, Kim Maltman, Miriam Mandel, Sid Marty, David McFadden, Barry McKinnon, Erin Michie, Deborah Miller, Anna Mioduchowska, James M. Moir, Colin Morton, Erín Moure, Charles Noble, P.K. Page, Rajinderpal Pal, Ruth Roach Pierson, Joseph Pivato, Roberta Rees, D.C. Reid, Monty Reid, R. rickey, Ken Rivard, Stephen Scobie, Allan Serafino, Joan Shillington, Greg Simison, Carol Ann Sokoloff, Karen Solie, Stephan Stephansson, Peter Stevens, Ivan Sundal, Anne Swannell, Vanna Tessier, Colleen Thibadeau, John O. Thompson, James M. Thurgood, Eva Tihanyi, Yvonne Trainer, Aritha van Herk, Rosalee van Stelten, Miriam Waddington, James Wreford Watson, Wilfred Watson, Tom Wayman, Phyllis Webb, Jon Whyte, Christine Wiesenthal, Sheri-D Wilson, Christopher Wiseman, Stacie Wolfer, Rita Wong, Richard Woollatt & Jan Zwicky

Adultery Poems, The

by (author) Nancy Holmes