Review of The Artemesia Book
From Pat Bolger , Canadian Materials (October 1991)

The Artemesia Book: Poems Selected and New by Colleen Thibaudeau

Over a hundred poems, some from earlier collections (My Granddaughters Are Combing Out Their Long Hair (Coach House, 1977) and The Martha Landscapes (Brick Books, 1984), some not previously collected, and two dozen new ones, give the reader a long view of Thibaudeau’s work over forty years as a poet.

Everyday life in her hands is at once completely familiar and utterly strange in poems such as “My Grandmother’s Sugar Shell, Ontario Baroque” and “Ukrainian Wedding of the Canned Vegetables.” Her poems dealing with childhood are extraordinarily vivid, and teenagers will enjoy “Looking at the Artemesia Book,” “The Children and the Storm” and especially “Beatie’s Palaces”:

          ‘Jeez, you got good leaves,’ says Beatie.
          Leaves are her luxury; no trees, no leaves on the cinderhill
          where she lives by the dump.

A handful of ingenious parodies of writers such as Atwood, Souster and Purdy will appeal to senior students, as will the outrageously imagined “Aristide Bruant au Honey Dew.” Some may also be intrigued by a little set of poems featuring Throgmoggle and Engestchin, which run on in this fashion:  “Fordful moggle/ chorey chumbles/ dipdum danker.” (After six pages of this, others may feel entitled to accuse the writer of self-indulgence!)

This generous collection will be useful in high school libraries, making senior English students—and their teachers—more aware of the work of a very fine Canadian poet.

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