Fernie Fix Review of In the Tiger Park

Reviewed by: Winnipeg Free Press

A poetry recommendation is way overdue! This column has become a place where I promote upcoming author events, and because Fernie's literary scene is suddenly thriving, I've been busy letting Fernie Fix readers know all about the novels and memoirs of visiting writers. Before I gear up to brag about the Fernie Heritage Library's 2014-2015 season of "Booked," let me take advantage of the lull and tell you about some of the great Canadian poetry I've been neglecting in these pages.

One of the first reviews I ever wrote for The Fix was of Alison Calder's Wolf Tree. Shortly afterwards, she taught a workshop at the Fernie Writers' Conference. In a break from events, we did a beautiful (if a touch wet) hike at Island Lake Lodge, an outing that is responsible for this sentence in the acknowledgements of her new book: "Thanks to Angie Abdou for reminding me that it never rains in the forest, except for when it does." That is not the only line in the book that made me smile, but since I always read the acknowledgments before the poems, it is the first.

Calder's new book, In the Tiger Park, voices the same sharp wit, keen intellect, and startling originality that I so admire in Wolf Tree. I suspect Fernie readers will delight most in the poems' multifaceted exploration of the natural, wild world. The moon in particular is everywhere in this book. In my favourite piece, Calder with her characteristic irreverent humour expresses her frustration at the moon's ubiquity, beginning with the surprising line: "F*ck off, moon! Get out of my poems."

The interplay of nature and poetry in Calder's work is, as always, profound and thought-provoking. In a poem called "500 words per day," Calder compares writer's block to a bad day of fauna watching. Like wild animals, inspiration and poetic insight too can be elusive: "When I hiked up the mountain, the elk were down in the meadow,/ and when I walked down to the meadow, the elk were gone./ Some days are like that: might as well nap, / [….]/ Some days a large animal is off in the distance./ I should be happy to see it, even there." This reader is glad for Alison Calder's many good writing days. In the Tiger Park is another Calder collection to treasure.

Reviewed by Angie Abdou. 



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