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Memory's Daughter

by Alice Major

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death, canadian
list price: $24.95
also available: eBook
category: Poetry
published: 2010
  • , Alberta Book Awards - Stephan G. Stephanson Award for Poetry
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This is a daughter's poetic homage to her parents, both elegy and celebration, that explores the transformations wrought by history, biology, and the alchemy of love. In Greek myth, the daughters of Memory were the Muses. Alice Major listens carefully to their voices. ".tender, wise, beautifully cadenced work which embraces the reader on every page." - Don Domanski

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Editorial Reviews

"Alice is a prodigious poet, whose Office Tower Tales (the 2009 winner of the Pat Lowther Memorial Award) rivaled Chaucer's 'frame story' in the Canterbury Tales;.She sustains a classical context in this new collection." Anne Burke, Prairie Review, Spring 2010

"Memory's Daughter, by Alice Major, moves beyond the harrowing experience of infirm parents and final illnesses, to a celebration of two remarkable people. Wielding meticulous research and a keen sense of place, Alice Major recreates the industrial world of Clydeside, the wartime Glasgow of her parents' heritage. With glosas, ballads, sonnets, and lullabies, she tells of clocks and photographs, love and politics, of birds and butterflies, factories and alchemy. Memory's Daughter contains some of the finest formal poetry of the past decade, but handled gently, unobtrusively, helping pure memory to glow just as a gas mantle's structure helps the old fashioned gaslight illuminate a cobbled street." Pat Lowther Memorial Prize jurors, April 2011

"Elegiac and tender without sentimentality, Major's poems pay homage to her parents, and especially her father, as he dwindled into dementia and eventually death. Although personal, the pieces in Memory's Daughter are made richer by their infusion of myths such as that of Eve & Penelope, as well as through their delving into the early technologies of clocks, ships, gas lights and iron works. Embracing scientific diction, forms like the glosa and the adapted ghazal, refusing to shirk the difficult in either emotion or craft, Major's collection is a consistently strong distilling of the world into poetry's invaluable metals." "A remarkable book in its poetic craftsmanship, Memory's Daughter rewards the reader anew with each reading. Major's moving poetic exploration of family and memory on both emotional and lyrical levels reveal a mature poet taking her craft to a new level into various poetic forms and structures and bringing everything together with an apparent ease that comes only from the most skilful of poets." Winner of the WGA's Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry, 2011 Alberta Literary Awards jury comments.

"Ready your Kleenex. Edmonton's former poet laureate, Alice Major, delivers tears in torrents in her homage to her parents and ill sister. Avoiding over-sentimentality, Major relies on history, brutal facts, Greek myth and biblical metaphors in a perfect homage." Telegraph-Journal, February 27, 2010

#7 on the Edmonton Journal 'Edmonton Top 10' bestseller list

#3 on the Edmonton Journal "Edmonton Top 10" Bestseller list

"Arranged in six parts, Alice Major's Memory's Daughter enhances the long-poem tradition by adapting biblical and Greco-Roman myth to depict metamorphosis through life's seasons.... The Muse of Poetry, Mnemosyne's daughter, grants Major dominion over microcosm, macrocosm, and time itself, a 'pinprick hole in the sky,' illuminating memory... The fourth suite, 'Time is How,' is a remarkable linguistic tour de force, radiant in self-referential language, exploring signifying limits and polysemous freedoms." Karl Jirgens, Canadian Literature, Winter 2010 [See full review at http://www.canlit.ca/reviews.php?id=15222]

"Award-winning Canadian poet, Alice Major, has been recognised for the way in which her writing evokes the universal character and concerns of human nature that connect us with those who came before and those who will come after. Major's latest collection of poems, Memory's Daughter, is no exception. This collection meshes the past with the present, drawing together the sacred and the secular while elevating the daily struggles and tragedies of quotidian experience to mythical heights.... Major's collection remains a lyrical and moving tribute to the power of our stories and memories, which shape us even as we imagine we are shaping them. Sharon Selby, University of Edinburgh, British Journal of Canadian Studies, 24.1

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About the Author

Alice Major

Alice Major emigrated from Scotland at the age of eight, and grew up in Toronto before coming west to work as a weekly newspaper reporter. She served as the City of Edmonton’s first poet laureate from 2005–2007. A widely-published author, she has won many distinctions. Her most recent book, Intersecting Sets: A Poet Looks at Science, received the Wilfrid Eggleston Award for non-fiction as well as a National Magazine Award gold medal. Her website is www.alicemajor.com.
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