CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Welch, Liliane.

Charlottetown, Ragweed Press, c1985. 50pp. paper, $8.95. ISBN 0-920304-45-1. CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Tony Cosier

Volume 14 Number 5
1986 September

Manstorna reflects the original insights of a unique woman. Liliane Welch lives in a cedar house on a flat marsh in New Brunswick. But for several summers, she has climbed mountains in Italy. In these poems, she links the exhilarating visions of her climbing experience to the reflective labours of her craft. She pulls the chant of the primaeval heights into a marsh song rich with mud and mist.

These poems have poise. They soar and then come back to earth. The selections are written with intensity and the overall design makes sense. Welch juxtaposes the viewpoints of "two wind-warped climbers," a woman and a man who climb Manstorna Peak and then descend.

The male voice of the poem belongs to a guide, an inhabitant of the Italian Dolomites. In a tight packet of thirteen sonnets, the guide recalls earlier climbs, reflects on triumphs and disasters, captures his whole life in climbing terms. In the final poem of the section, he contemplates the woman who climbs with him, the Canadian poet who "slowly ties each stone into a snare drawn by the spirit of words."

The poet climber is undisguisedly Welch herself. She prefaces the guide's sonnets with a contemplative poem on him, depicting his fearless climbing dance as an exercise in "poems in foothold." Welch captures the thrill of climbing firsthand. Hands grip, boots grope. Lives dangle by mere ropes over the abyss. And always the peaks above the climbers loom like mountain gods.

Ragweed Press has illustrated this volume with colour photos as exciting as the subject deserves. The layout is sensible. The prose preface by the author is interesting and informative. A glossary of climbing terms is helpful. Still, the most important feature of the book is the quality of the verse. These works are strong, vital, and original. None but Liliane Welch could have written them.

Tony Cosier, Confederation H.S., Nepean, Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works