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Tell Them It Was Mozart

by Angeline Schellenberg

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Winner of the Lansdowne Prize for Poetry, the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for best first book and the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer.

Linked poems that uncover the ache and whimsy of raising children on the autism spectrum.

Through public judgments, detouring dreams and unspoken prayers, Tell Them It Was Mozart, Angeline Schellenberg’s debut collection, traces both a slow bonding and the emergence of a defiant humour. This is a book that keens and cherishes, a work full of the earthiness and transcendence of mother-love. One of the pleasures of this collection is its playful range of forms: there are erasure poems, prose poems, lists, found poems, laments, odes, monologues and dialogues in the voices of the children, even an oulipo that deconstructs the DSM definition of autism. From a newborn “glossed and quivering” to a child conquering the fear of strange toilets, Tell Them It Was Mozart is bracing in its honesty, healing in its jubilance.

Michelangelo slept in his clothes and seldom ate        Newton lectured to empty rooms at scheduled times if no one showed up to hear him … Only staying where room numbers were divisible by three, Tesla tested turbines in his mind, would not touch round objects … Charles Darwin formulated the theory of natural selection, the foundation for our understanding of the diversity of life on earth: advantageous traits survive      Mozart meowed on tables —from “Posthumously diagnosed”

Praise for Tell Them It Was Mozart:

“By turns, Angeline Schellenberg’s words are blunt, musical, unflinching, transcendent. Her speaker raises two children on the autism spectrum, but she is never a martyr, never a victim, never a saint. Schellenberg has drawn a woman who turns the experience inside out—finding its humour, its turbulence, and ultimately, its joy.” —Kimmy Beach

Tell Them it Was Mozart is a provocative collection of culturally rich, alluring poetry that bravely reveals the flakey, frightening, forlorn, funny, fantastic gusts of life with autism. What a splendid read it is.” —Liane Holliday Willey, author of Pretending to be Normal: Living With Asperger’s Syndrome

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About the Author

Angeline Schellenberg’s poetry has appeared in Prairie Fire, CV2, TNQ, Rhubarb, Room, Geez, Wordgathering, Lemon Hound, and The Society, as well as in Cradle Song: a book of poems about newborns (Leaf Press). Her first chapbook, Roads of Stone (The Alfred Gustav Press), was released in May 2015. Her poetry won third prize in the…

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