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Second Avenue
© Edward Epp

April 2009
Leanne Boschman
ISBN 978-0-9783879-9-0
6 by 9 Trade Paperback
Full colour cover
64 pages $16.95

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Precipitous Signs: A Rain Journal

by Leanne Boschman

This book is saturated with the North Coast. Read it the way you would read the rain, falling through a landscape of houses, trees, and industrial Prince Rupert, in all the senses it can be touched, because that's the way it was written: in drops and streams and rivulets and torrents, each one spoken liquidly on Leanne Boschman's tongue. If you were to read one book to get to the heart of rain and of this coast, this is it.     Harold Rhenisch

Prince Rupert has the dubious distinction of holding the nation-wide record for annual precipitation. Gale-force winds strong enough to blow in the back window of the car are not unusual; neither is it uncommon for new residents to pack up after a few weeks when faced with the prospect of weeks of sunlight deprivation.

Leanne Boschman is a prairie transplant. Rather than retreat, she documented her experience of the northern coastal environment and began to explore the social milieu and history of this port city with its historic cycles of boom and bust, collapse of resource industries, and present economic challenges and opportunities. For years residents have been faced with unemployment, poverty, family stress, and poor health standards, yet there is a resilience and commitment to community that she found inspiring.

Central to the book are the lives of women in the settlement era. In an attempt to balance the "founding fathers" narrative, Leanne sifted through existing documents, talked to those who remember, and imagined the stories when necessary. She also writes about the violence that continues to affect women. One of the poems reflects on the long-ago murders of a school teacher and a prostitute; in another she travels the "Highway of Tears," where dozens of women have disappeared over the past decades.

Through experiment with a form that reflects the edgy, sometimes reckless, gritty quality of outpost life, she weaves themes of work, growing children, women's activism, communal relief from isolation and drudgery through arts and faith. She attends to the rhythms and voices of the ever-present rain and explores its potential as soundscape and motif for cycles of growth, decay, seasons of nature and life passages.

Harold Rhenisch has a website at haroldrhenisch.com.

We are grateful to Edward Epp for permission to use the cover image Second Avenue. You can see his work at edwardepp.com. Kelp dress and author photo by Amelia Epp.

Leanne Boschman lives in Prince Rupert, where she teaches English and Women's Studies at Northwest Community College. Her poems have been published in Canadian journals including Geist Magazine, Dandelion Magazine, Room Magazine, and Prism International. They have also been included in the Creekstones Anthology and in Half in the Sun, an anthology of Mennonite writing.

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