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
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.
Rhenisch has a website
We are grateful to Edward Epp for permission
to use the cover image Second Avenue. You can see his work
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.