In this contrapuntal follow-up to Governor GeneralGÇÖs Award finalist Discovery Passages, Garry Thomas Morse traces multiple lines of his mixed ancestry. These include the nomadic pre-historicGÇ¥ movements of Wakashan speakers who were later to form various West Coast First Nations; the schismatic mindset of Jedidiah Morse, the father of American geographyGÇ¥ ;and eternal struggles of European Jewish relations, artists, and close friends against perennial anti-Semitism. Set around the vigilantly maintained border/lines that mark the relatively unsungGÇ¥ decline of natural prairie life, this unromantic wrecklogueGÇ¥ radiates outward from a new real-estate development in Regina, Saskatchewan.
The first section, Company Romance,GÇ¥ is a sequence of sardonic heritage minuteGÇ¥ poems that examine the intensely aggressive capitalist aspects of colonization that drove the fur trade in Manitoba and deeply influenced our contemporary sense of cultural and national identity. They also draw parallels between the shift in nomadic hunter/warrior culture to our own transformation as global consumers.
The second part, Prairie Harbour,GÇ¥ a long poem in twenty-four parts, takes the form of postexilic elegies that transcend the dominant tradition of Canadian prairie poetry, infusing it with epical echoes of poets John Clare, Charles Olson, Louis Zukofsky, and William Carlos Williams. The work reaches its stride in a hearing of the Regina Symphony OrchestraGÇÖs performance of Gustave MahlerGÇÖs Fifth Symphony, which includes a French horn of warning for the have-notGÇ¥ province.
The finale offers aesthetic fragmentation of Stephane Mallarm+¬GÇÖs Un Coup de D+¬s and The Untroubled Mind,GÇ¥ a poem by Saskatchewan-born abstract expressionist Agnes Martin, salvaging space for an inner landscape and a harbourGÇ¥ for the mind.