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Madeira Park (B.C.), Harbour Publishing, c1984. 264pp, paper, $10.95, ISBN 0-920080-53-7. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by donalee Moulton-Barrett

Volume 13 Number 4
1985 July

Two years ago the first Women and Words conference took place in Vancouver. Out of that event came a greater awareness of women in the field of writing and a greater commitment to their professions. Out of that conference also came the idea for Women and Words: The Anthology, a juried collection of prose and poetry, in English and French, from women across Canada.

Like most anthologies, this collection of feminist writing includes first-rate work by established writers like Jane Rule, Daphne Marlatt, and Marian Engel. Rule's short story, "Slogans," stands out in particular for its subtlety of emotional movement and for its ability to prod the reader into moving beyond the accepted, the clichéd.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for much of the collection. It is clichéd. It is predictable. It is, often, unexciting, unoriginal, and unmoving. Candid J. Graham's short story, "Nothing Special," for example, looks at the relationship between a poverty-line single mother and her thirteen-year-old daughter, Jess. Neither mother nor daughter, however, are fully developed characters but rather one-dimensional personalities. Their relationship is not acted out, so that reader and writer reach the same conclusion, but by being pounded by the writing, so that there is no possible way the reader can miss the point, or believe in the story.

Nelia Tierney follows a similiar philosophy in her poem, "Tintinnabulations," which opens with these lines: "Once there was/the red rip/the silent wet scream/of the placenta." Two verses later, this: "There is a dryness now/and resonance/of stone and wood/of iron and dessicated wounds."

Despite these flaws however, Women and Words: The Anthology does provide readers with insights into Canadian women, what preoccupies their thoughts, and their pens.

donalee Moulton-Barrett, Halifax, N.S.

*This review deals only with the English prose and poetry collected in the anthology.

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