Monday, June 7, 2021

Joanne Epp*

Joanne Epp has just had her second poetry collection launched by Turnstone Books, which is now being celebrated with a “blog tour” ― which is their creative take on advancing a new book during our current pandemic! The book is Cattail Skyline and is her follow-up to her earlier collection Eigenheim.

The landscape captured in these pages is predominantly the Saskatchewan of her youth, both remembered and revisited: a land of railways, buffalo rubbing stones, an ancestral cemetery, pin cherries, chokecherries, raspberries, riverbanks, treaty territory, wild strawberries, cranberries, bunchberries, saskatoon berries, and cattails. There’s also one section about the author’s trip to Cambodia in 1994 with the Mennonite Central Committee.

Epp is a Winnipeg poet who consistently speaks of her perspective on the artform. “I approach poetry as a way of expressing and giving shape to what I encounter in the world,” she said in recent interview with Poetry In Voice. “[W]hile a love of language is essential, poetry also has to come out of a love for the world.”

She serves as assistant organist at St. Margaret's Anglican Church in Winnipeg. The following poem is from Cattail Skyline.

Image in a country church

Horse Lake, Saskatchewan

Sunday, white clapboard unbearably bright.
People shading eyes as they greet
and pass inside to hear the preacher read
the Revelation of John: a lamb standing
as though it had been slain
—the paradox
we can hardly speak, the reason
we’ve come and sung, reminded again
how mystery resides in that harsh death,
the rising after, its unnerving glory. It’s here
in this small clearing—that glory, declared
in morning rays through arched windows,
shining the varnished pews;
in brightness flashing out from everything:
white doors, chrome on cars, flecks of mica
in the gravelled yard. Each waxy needle on spruce,
each trembling aspen leaf, each face.

Posted with permission of the poet.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Joanne Epp: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.