Adele Wiseman, lifelong writing friend of Margaret Laurence, is best know for her novels, The Sacrifice, winner of the Governor-General's Award in 1956, and Crackpot, Winner of the Canadian Booksellers Association Award in 1974. She also wrote essays, plays, and children's books. Her poetry, the work of the last ten years of her life, and mostly unpublished, ranges in form from haiku to sonnets to subversive feminist epic; in content from poems about poetry ("Instructions for Poems in Progress"), to love poems ("In Our Play"), to nature poems ("Mysteries of Flight"), to family poems, and to political poems, including "The Dowager Empress Suite." This is Adele Wiseman writing in her most personal voice. The Dowager Empress: Selected Poems by Adele Wiseman rounds out our knowledge of a major Canadian writer.
Elizabeth Greene has published a novel, A Season Among Psychics (2018), and three books of poetry, The Iron Shoes (2007), Moving (2010) and Understories (2014). Her poems, short fiction, and essays have appeared in journals and anthologies across Canada, most recently in Where the Nights Are Twice As Long, ed. David Eso and Jeanette Lynes, and The Society for St. Peter's Anthology (St. Peter's College, Muenster, Saskatchewan). She has also edited/co-edited five books, including We Who Can Fly: Poems, Essays and Memories in Honour of Adele Wiseman which won the Betty and Morris Aaron Prize (Jewish Book Awards) for Best Scholarship on a Canadian Subject in 1998. She lives in Kingston with her son and two cats.
"I found many delightful surprises in this collection by the late Adele Wiseman, most notably her pithy haikus and short poems. Wiseman was known primarily as a novelist, so who would have expected such a wide poetic range--from the acerbic "Mopping Up" to the gently lyrical "What is the Night?" Elizabeth Greene deserves kudos for bringing together this book of poetry by one of our major authors."
"Adele Wiseman, who was first and always a novelist, spent the final decade of her life writing poetry. Here, in this original selection of her poems, we hear a voice that extends our understanding of one of Canada's most important writers of the twentieth century."
--Ruth Panofsky, author of The Force of Vocation: The Literary Career of Adele Wiseman
"Elizabeth Greene's The Dowager Empress makes an important contribution to Canadian literature by introducing readers both here and abroad to Adele Wiseman's powerful poetry. Wiseman was an important and talented Canadian writer who has been unjustly neglected - a phenomenon which Greene, in both this book and We Who Can Fly, seeks to rectify. The poems in The Dowager Empress are, like Wiseman's prose, direct, passionate, and strong, and Greene, herself an accomplished poet, helpfully situates Wiseman's poems in the context of her larger oeuvre and her life. The result--both for those of us who are already admirers of Wiseman and those who are new to her work--is illuminating and a delight."
--Nora Gold, author of The Dead Man, Fields of Exile, and Marrow and Other Stories
"In "Mopping Up" Adele writes specifically about what she called "alternative voices." It was something that she sincerely cared about, and, in 1989, when Indigenous literature was still in its infancy, and I had nothing more than a bundle of unpublished poems and a few big dreams, she invited me to The Banff Centre's Writers' Workshop. What immediately comes to mind was her mother-bear presence and generosity, and especially for the fledging writer a deep understanding of the human condition - as glimpsed in these poems."
--Armand Garnet Ruffo, author of Treaty #
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