Types of Canadian Women, and of Women Who Are or Have Been Connected with Canada, Volume II.


128 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 978-1-55447-022-6
DDC C811'.54






Lydia Forssander-Song is a sessional instructor in the English
Department at Trinity Western University, Langley, B.C.


This collection is inspired by Types of Canadian Women, and of Women Who Are or Have Been Connected with Canada Volume I, edited by Henry J. Morgan and published in 1903. In her tongue-in-cheek introduction to Volume II, Press adopts the persona of “K.I. Press, Esq., Hawthornden Castle, Lasswade, Midlothian” in keeping with the time period of these women, in keeping with their genteel tone, occupations, and expectations, and in acknowledgement of her Hawthornden Fellowship and the Hawthornden International Retreat for Writers. Press, like many of her woman characters, preserves a veneer of propriety. However, in the first poem of this collection, “Stipulated for One Acre of Land,” Press’s speaker is “a new species … A luscious new variety.” Press also has a poem called “Played Ingénues,” where her speaker states, “I will buy large men, and be quiet and naughty.” In “Youngest Editress in the World,” Press’s speaker recounts “I went as Satan. As such I felt the right to lead that brightly coloured rich chattering and gloriously anachronistic rabble.” Consequently, this volume interrogates stereotypes of the genteel woman.


Apart from poems, Press also includes period photographs (mostly posed) of women. Out of the 50 poems in this volume, only seven do not have an accompanying photograph. These photographs add a very important visual component to each poem that inspires further curiosity in the reader about these real life women and complements the poems’ brief, selective, and imaginative snapshot of them. In “Experienced a Nervous Collapse,” accompanied by a photograph of a woman costumed and on stage, Press’s speaker is told “You gotta learn to be a lady.” This volume also contains predominantly prose poems. Only 14 of the 50 poems have traditional poetic line breaks. In addition, all the poems except for two, “Uplifted the Home Life of the Whole Country” (third person) and “An Ideal Ophelia” (second person), are in the first person. This combination of prose and first-person narratives naturally creates a voice for these women speakers. In “Impelled by a Desire for Change,” Press’s actress speaker comments, “I wished I were dead, a tragic hero. A man.”


Press, K.I., “Types of Canadian Women, and of Women Who Are or Have Been Connected with Canada, Volume II.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/27600.