Personal History.


112 pages
ISBN 978-1-897141-21-1
DDC C814'.54






Reviewed by Lori A. Dunn

Lori A. Dunn is a ESL teacher, instructional designer, and freelance
writer in New Westminster, B.C.


Roo Borson is a poet and Personal History is a collection of her prose works on the topics of poetry, writing, art, and the world around us. In seven distinct sections, Borson waxes poetical in a rich prose style that engages the reader in exploring the meaning of inspirational sources and art. In the first two sections, “Poetry as Knowing” and “The Road,” Borson investigates the meaning of her own writing process. “The Road” in particular is an interesting treatise on the paths in our lives which take on the role of muse, differing from each other, but similar in their task of inspiration.


In the section “Departure and the Persistence of Sound,” Borson examines death, and specifically the death of one’s parents, through anecdotes couched in her expressive poetic prose. Alongside the topic of death arises the theme of ritual, and how it is created so uniquely for each of us: “However far ritual strays in practice and over time from its origins, it begins in honour and the revery of connectedness. It begins with a singular, irreproducible, meaningful act.”


Two of the other sections are devoted to deep analysis and reflection on two Canadian artists and their work: “The Silo and Related Works” on the works of Andy Patton, and “Towards the 401” on the works of Sheila Ayearst. Every artist should experience the intense scrutiny of a poet describing their work. In the final two sections, “Blackberrying in the Metropolis” and “The End of Winter: Adelaide-Himeji Garden,” Borson turns her inimitable voice on moments of nature, both the natural and the manicured.


Borson has shared some of the inner workings of the heart and soul of a reader and a writer. In her introduction, where she reminisces about her own induction to the magic of the written word, she reminds us that without reading (and by extension, writing) “there would be no place to share such memories, no place for them to live on.”


Borson, Roo., “Personal History.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,