Di Brandt’s poetry has received many awards, including the Gerald Lampert Award, the McNally Robinson Manitoba Book of the Year Award and the CAA National Poetry Award. She has been twice shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award and has been nominated for the Commonwealth Poetry Prize and the Pat Lowther Award. Now You Care is her fifth collection of poetry and has also been shortlisted for the 2004 Trillium Book Award and the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Among her other publications are questions i asked my mother (1987); Agnes in the sky (1990); mother, not mother (1992); Wild Mother Dancing: Maternal Narrative in Canadian Literature (1993); Jerusalem, beloved (1995) and Dancing naked: Narrative Strategies for Writing Across Centuries (1996). Selected anthologies include Section Lines: A Manitoba Anthology (1988); Making a Difference: Canadian Multicultural Literature (Oxford University Press, 1996) and Uncommon Wealth: an Anthology of Poetry in English (Oxford University Press, (1996).
Brandt grew up in Reinland, a Mennonite farming village in south central Manitoba and was one of the first women writers to break the public silence of Mennonite women in Canada. She taught English and Creative Writing at the University of Winnipeg from 1986-1995, and currently teaches Creative Writing and Canadian Literature at the University of Windsor. She recently spent a year living and writing in Berlin. She is a former poetry editor of Prairie Fire and a founding member of the feminist editorial collective of Contemporary Verse II.
Di Brandt manages beautifully the difficult job of producing poems that are socially conscientious without being didactic.
Di Brandt manages beautifully the difficult job of producing poems that are socially conscientious without being didactic. She knows that the best poetry rests on the authority of the heart. Thus, she makes her readers care not only through the pleasures of form and crafted language, but also through the risky honesty of her articulations.
by Di Brandt
Don’t laugh when I confess every cobalt
coloured little lake along the Trans-Canada
is flooding where I cried for you, hungry
tires eating the pavement from Winnipeg
to Couchiching and Shabbaqua, my body
hurtling through spruce scented air toward
polluted Ontario, my spirit reaching long
arms back across the miles to open prairie,
deer among the aspen of La Barriere Forest,
singers around a fire, your filmmaker’s eye,
your poet’s tongue, your quicksilver
philosopher’s mind, quivering skin, naked
heart, how do you know if you’re crazy,
these commuter lives, from exhausting
winters in dirty cities to snatched moments
in paradise, being with you, sunflower
mosquito dragonfly grasshopper ice in
the lungs wish it could last happiness
Copyright © 2003 Di Brandt
Some days like pulling teeth, rotten roots.
Staring down the barrel of the gun.
Shooting the town clock.
Forty days in the desert.
Fifty days in the desert, no food and water.
The devil sticking out his tongue.
Electric shock. Thunderbolt.
Heroin. Poison in the veins.
Angels beating their wings on your bared skull.
Who will believe you.
Moon in your hands, transparent, luminous.
Cursed by God.
Cursed by mothers, fathers, brothers, the bloody town hall.
Dogs limping on three paws.
The fourth one sawed off by a car wheel, careening.
The devil making faces.
Long red tongue, goats’ horns, trampling the streets of Ptuj,
Licking licking. Cunt or wound.
Bad gas leaking from stones, earth fissures.
Nettles. Poison ivy. Bee sting.
Rotgut. Fungus on your toes.
Wild strawberries low to the ground, cheating the lawn mower.
A wall waiting for the wrecker’s ball.
Clear vodka. Ice.
Copyright © 2003 Di Brandt