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July 2009


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Cutting My Mother's Hair

Stephanie McKenzie

ISBN: 1 903392 52 7

Page Count: 80

Publication Date: Saturday, April 01, 2006

Cover Artwork: Michael Pitman


About this Book

In this uncompromising collection, Stephanie McKenzie guides us through an Inferno of female outcasts like a compassionate and committed Virgil. The encounter that she orchestrates between Dante, Newfoundland and Canada is provocative, illuminating and extremely powerful. The voices that address us along the way are dignified and unforgettable: there are no victims ('let everyone / on the ferry at Port-aux-Basques / know I've had seven good years'), but we are left with no doubt about who the real sinners are ('the government chews its way to graves'). We reach the depths of Hell but Paradise can be just round the corner ('Let them paint a boat. They can row out of hell').

Maria Cristina Fumagalli, University of Essex (Author of The Flight of the Vernacular: Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott and the Impress of Dante)

Cutting My Mother's Hair is a contemporary, feminist engagement with Dante's Inferno. It is also a portrait of society's lack of compassion for those who suffer from mental health issues. Taking as its inspiration this great Italian epic, Cutting My Mother's Hair depicts contemporary women in various stages of domestic hell and interrogates their familial and social inheritance of patriarchy. The last and fourth section of this book, 'The S Collection', creates a fictional story of two women caught in the rings of the Inferno, suffering breakdown, and for whom there is no compassion.


Author Biography

Stephanie McKenzie is a poet, editor and professor. She holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Toronto where she specialized in Aboriginal literature in Canada. Her book of literary criticism, Before the Country: Native Renaissance, Canadian Mythology, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2007. She is co-editor of The Echoing Years: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and Translation from Canada and Ireland (2007), co-editor and co-publisher of However Blow the Winds: An Anthology of Poetry and Song from Newfoundland & Labrador and Ireland (2004) and The Backyards of Heaven: Contemporary Poetry from Newfoundland and Labrador and Ireland (2003) and publisher and co-editor of Humber Mouths: Young Voices from the West Coast of Newfoundland & Labrador. With Martin Ware, McKenzie also co-edited An Island in the Sky: Selected Poetry of Al Pittman (Breakwater Books, St. John's, 2003). Her second collection of poetry, Grace Must Wander, was published by Salmon in 2009.

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