Marilyn Bowering. Visible Worlds. Harper Collins 1997
Paterson Ewen. Halley's Comet as seen by Giotto, 1979.
Most memorable image of this book is of a woman skiing over the North Pole from Russia to Canada.There are twins, in a Winnipeg immigrant family, one joins the Nazis in Germany, the other is locked in a struggle with something – I'm not sure – but he does think a lot. And then there is Nathaniel Bone. This is a book in the wide-ranging tradition of Canadian literature where the story covers an enormously complex world of multiply connected and layered stories.
Bowering is a poet, first, and her writing although prose is a long, beautiful extended poem where time and narrative are endlessly fluid. Meanwhile Fika checks her bearings and moves on after chipping ice from her skis. She is the background, her epic journey, to everyone else's complex histories of emigration, loss and displacement.
Richard Bingham, the cover designer, but a Paterson Ewen painting on the cover. Ewen is a strange fellow, most of his very large paintings are made by grinding lines in sheets of plywood with a router, then painting over the sheet, routing a few more lines, adding some paint. They are like huge wood blocks after much printing. The work is passionate and muscular, magical and haunting. It is a good tough accompaniment to Bowering's poetic, detailed complexity.