CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 16 . . . . April 14, 2000
The final poem of this collection is, in part, a synopsis of this first book of poetry by emerging
Metis writer, Rita Bouvier.
Bouvier sets wide-ranging goals for her writing. This book of poetry attempts many of those things, and, at times, succeeds. She does, indeed, write of her experiences, which reflect images of herself, her Metis culture and the human condition. She writes simply and with the power to illuminate. Especially poignant is the poem "Epikwetamapiyan" which is Cree for "I am sitting here lost-broken hearted."
A blue moon rises
Her struggles are memorably and efficiently described in these lines from "When Time and Space Collapse."
Tonight I am tired
The serious topics are balanced by several humourous poems. My favourite is "A Good Story to Tell" wherein Bouvier highlights the ingenuity of a Cree woman and pokes fun at the police.
In essence, Blueberry Clouds feels like a first collection of poetry. The writer's aspirations are admirable, and she partially attains her goals. The volume feels too slim. The thematic focus feels too broad. I would have preferred more poems about fewer topics.
Quibbles about her scatter-gun approach to subject aside, [and one glaring editing glitch of it's rather than its!] I recommend this book. It could readily complement an existing poetry unit. Several of the poems are suitable for oral reading to students. A few of the poems could serve as subjects for small-group discussions and/or written student responses. In her poem "Poetry," Ms Bouvier defines poetry as...
Blueberry Clouds would be useful as a resource for Aboriginal Studies. I found the glimpses of the Mechif language intriguing. In the poem, "A Conversation with Peter Gzowski," Bouvier defines her mother tongue as:
Direct translations of the Mechif language and brief comments are conveniently included alongside the poems.
Blueberry Clouds has a place in high school classrooms and school libraries and would serve as supplementary materials for poetry units and Aboriginal studies units.
Terry Vatrt is a teacher on leave of absence from Winnipeg School Division #1.
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