by Wanda Campbell
"Anonymous was a woman," says Virginia
Woolf, but these poems celebrate the name of several women who found
a way to bring light into dark circumstances. Beginning with several
Lucys who made a difference — saint, suffragette, author, artist,
comedienne, cartoon character, mother, muse — this poetic journey
continues with the unlikely love story between Lucy Adaline Hurd and
William Cornelius Van Horne, the man responsible for building the railroad
that joined Canada from east to west. As he drove his iron dreams across
lake shore and forest, prairie and mountain, she stayed behind in Montreal,
knowing that her passions — children, music, orchids — would
not endure. At the driving of the last spike on November 7, 1885, at
Craigellachie, British Columbia, Van Horne pronounced "the work
has been done well in every way," but these poems take a closer
look at that most famous of Canadian photographs.
The final section draws upon letters, newspaper
articles, and obituaries, to reveal what ultimately happened to Addie
and the picturesque Canadian places she called home. Using a variety
of verse forms including free verse and found poems, sonnets and sestinas,
this collection explores the lives of women who inhabit the margins
of history and the ways in which they shine.
"I love the ideas
of this book — Lucy, looking for Lucy, finding Lucy. I’m
also intrigued by the play with form. Wonderful poems here."
Simpson's work can be found here.
We are grateful to the McCord Museum for
permission to use the photograph of Lucy Adaline Van Horne and of
The Last Spike for the book's front and back covers.
Wanda Campbell was born in Andhra
Pradesh, India, and spent the first decade of her life there. She
took a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Windsor
under the supervision of Alistair MacLeod and a PhD in Canadian
Literature from the University of Western Ontario. She now lives
with her husband and three daughters in Wolfville, Nova Scotia where
she teaches Creative Writing and Women’s Literature at Acadia
University. She has edited Literature: A Pocket Anthology
(Penguin) and Hidden Rooms: Early Canadian Women Poets (Canadian
Poetry Press) and has published a collection of poetry entitled
Sky Fishing (Black Moss) and a chapbook Haw[Thorn]
(Gaspereau). Her poems and stories have appeared in the anthologies
and numerous journals across Canada including Antigonish Review,
Dalhousie Review, Descant, Driftwood, Fiddlehead, Gaspereau Review,
Grain, Harpweaver, Literary Review of Canada, New Quarterly, Queen’s
Quarterly, Room of One’s Own, Wascana Review, and The
Windsor Review. She has given readings in Ontario, New Brunswick
and Nova Scotia, as well as on CBC radio, and is a regular participant
in the “Writers in the Schools” program run by the Writers’
Federation of Nova Scotia.