White of the Lesser Angels
Maurice J. Scarlett is a geography professor at the Memorial University
Janice Kulyk Keefer must be a strong and clever woman. A poet must have breadth of mind, knowledge, and sensitivity to the world’s richness of experience. These poems are women’s poems in the sense that they express women’s interests — giving birth, love-making, maternal anxiety — yet they do so within a broad perception of the world as a place of mixed qualities, curiosities, pleasures, and injustices. There is plenty of knowledge here, Keefer particularly employs the myths of Western Christendom. We are always among humans trying to get by, as humans always have. The myths recall similarities of the past and the present. Keefer’s Canadian poems also possess this rich sense of historical context; though the past may be Biblical, classical, or foreign it has been lived and continues to give meaning to us. The tone of the poems varies between the loosely anecdotal and a more deliberate voice, the poems are often a series of medium length paragraph-stanzas. A strong formal sense operates here that always makes overall structure a factor of meaning.