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Poetry Canadian

Sweetest Dance On Earth, The

New and Selected

by (author) Di Brandt

Turnstone Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2022
Canadian, Feminist, Environmental Conservation & Protection
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2022
    List Price

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Since her debut in 1987 with questions I asked my mother, Di Brandt has remained curious, still asking questions and pushing poetic bounds. Now for the first time, the best work of this Griffin Award winning poet has been gathered together in one place. Distilled into one collection is Di Brandt's insatiable desire to understand, question and show the world in a new light. From her feminist work to her eco poetics, readers will get a chance to see the breathtaking career of one of Canada's most influential poets.

About the author

Winnipeg's Di Brandt is one of Canada's most loved and admired poets. Her internationally celebrated and award-winning poetry titles include questions I asked my mother; Agnes in the sky; Jerusalem, beloved; and Now You Care. Her most recent work, Walking to Mojacar, is a multilingual collaboration with gifted poets and translators Charles LeBlanc of St. Boniface, Manitoba (l'appétit du compteur : poèmes accumulés), and Ari Belathar, Mexican writer-in-exile, currently living in Vancouver (The Cities I Have Left Behind). Mojacar was shortlisted for two 2011 Manitoba Book awards, and has been nominated for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Di Brandt has lived in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Toronto, Windsor (Ontario) and Berlin. She currently holds a Canada Research Chair in Literature and Creative Writing at Brandon University, Manitoba ( Di Brandt is also an award-winning essayist and literary critic, and has collaborated with numerous other writers, critics and artists, including Annie Jacobsen, Jane Finlay-Young, Barbara Godard, Aganetha Dyck, Rebecca Campbell, Carol Ann Weaver and Jana Skarecky.

Di Brandt's profile page

Excerpt: Sweetest Dance On Earth, The: New and Selected (by (author) Di Brandt)


Let me not to the extreme beauty of Winnipeg
Winter admit the weeniest of arguments!
Winter is not winter where it melting finds
Or softens its grip to please whiny wusses!
O no! It is an orchestra of terrible frights that
Grips us in its iron claws and squeezes
And molds us into staggering stalagmites.
It is the crystal breath of every living thing
Exquisitely frozen into visible fog hanging regal
And luminous, quivering, in the cracking air.
Winter falters not as the season progresses
But maintains its fierce grip even upon cars
And busses, until every round tire goes square
And our lungs bleed from the million thrusts
Of icy knives in there. But look you! How lavishly
The yellow sun beaming above the frosty sky
Scatters diamonds onto the cold snow below.


Shall I compare You to an earthquake or tsunami?
O Winnipeg Winter! You are much mightier than these.
Earthquakes and tsunamis and volcanoes and hurricanes
Do shake the fields and oceans and mountains and beachesWherever they arise, leaving destruction in their lees.
And then they're gone. While You, O Bright White Giantess
Of the North, sweep through our city week in week out,
All day and through the icy night, for half the year and more.
You bedazzle us, your trembling awestruck friends,
Four and two-leggeds, huddled in rough feathers and fur,
Or if we're lucky, naked entwined somewhere in thick wool.
You prance along the streets and sidewalks, You sashay
Through insulated house walls and fortified government halls.
You chuckle and whistle and sing. You grab us in your icy jaws
And shake and howl and snap our brittle bones and
Crunch us into little heaps of dirty snow. You rule, yo.


How do I love You, Winnipeg Winter? Let me count
The ways. I love You deeply madly truly to the extent
My shivering Self can manage when Your Big Band season
Comes around. I love You warmly though truthfully my
Frostbitten fingers and toes can no longer clap and stamp
For You. I love you heroically, gripping my new red plastic
Shovel tight for another thousand heaves of frozen snow.
I love You fearfully, curled up shivering in my bed. I love You
Admiringly, seeing You close up, Your grand Face, Your
Awesome Head. I love You loyally all through the Game,
Knowing You hold not only the Queen of Spades but
Every trump and Ace. I love You with the love I lost in my
Aestheticized self-reflexive futurist postmodern phase,
Knowing You now in real time flesh and blood and bone.
I'm Yours alone and You, You own the town, O shining
Bride of Awesomeness in Your lacy icy Winter gown.

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