Saturday, April 4, 2009

details from the edge of the village by Pierrette Requier

The details in Requier's autobiographical tale of growing up in a francophone community in northern Alberta are told with love and wit. In mostly English prose poem vignettes that incorporate some twangy Franco-Albertan slang, Requier documents her life from a very young child through to her present middle-age.

This is a book with much relevance to my own life. I re-lived sharing with my sisters the same few inches of bathwater that my mother had to haul and heat; the fragility of lamp mantles that disintegrated so easily, yet provided much better light than the old-fashioned kerosene kind; learning to swim in an icy lake; French teachers imported from New Brunswick speaking in unfamiliar accents; listening to CHFA French radio and wearing jack shirts as I grew older.

Requier's family was larger than mine by six. She was fourth of eleven siblings. Her mother baked 20 loaves of bread, twice a week. I especially loved the poem Ca-na-da! and burn your bra! It's about the day her mother got mad after listening to a priest's sermon about a woman's duty being to fill the cradle every year; that was the day her mother announced she was going on the pill. When I was about ten, I asked my own mom why she needed those pills packaged in round containers. She was in a grumpy mood and explained, "They're for my nerves, so that I can stand you kids!"

No comments: