I saw my first rhubarb shoot pushing its way through the gravel at the front of our Wolseley backyard parking pad this morning. I enjoy more sunlight, fewer clothes, geese heading north, and family meals in our porch.
This issue of Rhubarb has been a long time coming, but you’ll see it’s worth it. “Mennonite New Music” looks at the groundbreaking work of new music composers, from Randoph Peters’s operatic works to songwriters and performers in the band Royal Canoe. All good. MORE>
Victor Enns, Afghanistan Confessions (Regina, SK: Hagios Press, 2014). Paperback, 176 pages, $17.95.
This book contains poems about Canada’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan. Beginning in 2002 and ending in 2014, Canada’s military mission to that country was controversial and dangerous. Victor Enns examines this war from the perspective of the soldier—four fictional soldiers, in fact—on the ground and in gritty detail. The book is divided up into sections representing the voice of each soldier, with the exception of the last section, which is named after a soldier’s wife. There’s “Albert,” “Jimmy,” “Sergeant Willis,” and “Jolene.” Each section poetically explores the notion of warfare primarily from the perspective of the male, drawing from the classical tradition in contemporary verse form. Take for example, the opening poem to the book, titled “disembarking Hercules”:
Al Reimer grew up in the Steinbach of the 1930s and 40s, a town of industrious folk, mistrustful of books that were not the Bible or expanded evangelistic tracts . . . but as a young boy he swiftly became lost in words, in fictions. For these he had to go no further than his father’s bookshelves.
His father was Peter J. B. Reimer, a teacher and later a minister in the Kleine Gemeinde, and an ambitious man. This, in itself, was not a problem in Steinbach — where all kinds of strong personalities were busy building business empires even in the improbable economic environment of the Great Depression – but “P. J. B.” was ambitious in the wrong way for his time and place; he aspired to higher education and recognition as a man of letters.