About the Author

Tanis MacDonald

Tanis MacDonald is the author of two books of poetry: Fortune (2003) and Holding Ground (2000), and is the winner of the 2003 Bliss Carman Poetry Prize. She has published articles on the poetry of P.K. Page, Lorna Crozier, and Anne Carson. She teaches English at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

Di Brandt’s poetry titles include questions I asked my mother (1987), Agnes in the sky (1990), Jerusalem, beloved (1995), and most recently, Now You Care (2004). She has received numerous awards for her poetry, including the CAA National Poetry Prize, the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award, and the Gerald Lampert Award. Di Brandt recently returned to the Manitoba prairies, her home, after a decade away, to take up a Canada Research Chair in Creative Writing at Brandon University.

Books by this Author
Out of Line

Out of Line

Daring to be an Artist Outside the Big City
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The Daughter’s Way

The Daughter’s Way

Canadian Women’s Paternal Elegies
also available: Paperback eBook
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questions I asked my mother

questions I asked my mother

by Di Brandt
introduction by Tanis MacDonald
also available: Paperback
tagged : canadian
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Speaking of Power

Speaking of Power

The Poetry of Di Brandt
also available: Paperback
tagged : canadian, literary
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because we cannot meet on father ground by Di Brandt

since we cannot meet on father ground

our father's land as sister & brother ever

let's imagine a new place between us

slightly suspended in air but yet touching

earth an old tree house full of weather

or an ark its ancient hull gleaming

remembering the rains let's gather our

belongings & our children & meet at the

river this will be a new country love &

crossing the field to greet you i will lay

my old weapons down & wait if you are

there with me under the harvest moon

we will look in each other's eyes without

speaking our hands will shake & the great

wooden door will begin creaking open at

last since we cannot meet

Excerpt from the Introduction by Tanis MacDonald

The importance of Di Brandt's poetry to Canadian literature cannot be overestimated. Her work broaches complex and volatile subject matter, and is valued for her assertion that poetry must be, at its core, concerned with the political power of language. Acclaimed for her lyric sensibility and rebellious inquiry into the power of language, Brandt explores cross-cultural concepts of justice and the ecopoetic relationship between land and spirituality. Her stylistic and formal innovations distinguish her as part of a group of women writers that began working with feminist poetics in the 1980s, searching for ways to write the female body, and challenge Western literature as a patriarchal tradition. .. .With their arresting line breaks and demanding syntax, Brandt's poems have an insistent, oracular quality that pulls the reader into an inquiry about the power of speech in Western civilization. Although much of her poetry is intentionally disquieting, the disturbance Brandt creates is never gratuitous; for her, writing poetry means nothing less than discovering where the power in language is located. Politics, in Brandt's poetry, may be defined as a series of decisions about who has the privilege of speech and who does not ultimately, who lives and who dies.

Demonstrating a willingness to let the silence speak as a critique of institutions that perpetuate oppression, Brandt's poetic inquiry has grown into an urgent discussion about the future of the planet, wrought through her concern with a corporate, and often corporeal, abuse of power. Her ethics of interconnection emphasize that no action or word can exist in brutal isolation or untouchable transcendence, and assert that the fabric of individual existence is deeply interdependent upon all forms of life on earth. Brandt's concept of her double identity, as poet and critic, as Mennonite and feminist, as mother and daughter, performs its own interconnections, and grants her access to a grand vision of beauty and regenerative hope. Brandt's work is best read as a lyrical arc rather than individual poems, for each of her concerns resonates with an adjoining issue: feminism with religion; belief with language; power with gender. The poems selected for this collection emphasize the connections between people, between love and loss, between anger and grief, between personal accountability and collective adversity. By clarifying these complexities without simplifying them, Brandt's poetry sings with a voice that is pressured by desperate circumstances but predicates a better world with its ecstatic music.


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