Winnipeg Free Press Review - Blue Marrow

Reviewed by: Alison Calder

One of the most important contemporary Canadian poetry books is finally back in print. Louise Halfe’s Blue Marrow (Coteau, 109 pages, $13), originally published in 1998, is now available in a substantially revised edition.

Halfe was raised on Alberta’s Saddle Lake Indian Reserve and lives in Saskatoon. The book attempts to reclaim voices history has consistently failed to record: those of aboriginal women.

This version of the text retains the formal complexity and the disjunctive narrative style of the original but is made more accessible to the readers.

The book takes the form of an extended prayer to the narrator’s grandmothers. In the new edition, these voices are clearly identified, often with the addition of character names. “Pe-nihtaciwek, nohkomak/ Climb down, my grandmothers/ Pe-nanapacihinan/ Come heal us,” she writes.

The book is made up of the collected voices of these ancestral spirits. Halfe pulls no punches in her discussion of the effects of colonization on her foremothers an herself.

The text is beautifully lyric, a barbed and moving testament to strength in the face of crushing odds.

This edition additionally features a Cree glossary, to aid readers in understanding the nuances of this remarkable text.


Article by Alison Calder.

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