Daedalus Had a Daughter

Daedalus Had a Daughter

96 pages

Poetry

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About the book

We all know what happened to Icarus, but what if there was one who lived to tell the tale? Wanda Campbell's fourth collection of poetry offers alternatives to flying too close to the sun and sinking into the sea. Beginning with ekphrastic poems responding to works by female artists such as Emily Carr and Frida Kahlo, Campbell considers the ways the love of art and the art of love help us to transcend the labyrinths of our lives. In the margins where men and women meet, navigation can be both difficult and dazzling. Viewed through the lens of the poet's own experience as the mother of three daughters, the lives of girls and women become poems about the "common magic" of coming of age. Her mother's own search for her birth mother while battling breast cancer emerges as suite structured around the meanings of "haw" and "thorn," the two haves of the name she left behind. In a section that moves from the free verse that dominates the collection to sonnets and other experiments with form, female pioneers in the worlds of flight and literature are celebrated in plain but powerful language. The poet draws on figures as various as artist Maud Lewis and journalist Maziar Bahari to argue that no matter how hard things become, art creates hope.

About the author

Campbell, Wanda

Wanda Campbell was born in South India and came to Canada at the age of ten. With her husband and three daughters she has camped in the National Parks in every province in Canada and has lived and worked in New Brunswick and Ontario. She now lives in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where she teaches Creative Writing at Acadia University in view of the highest tides in the world. She has published three collections of poetry: Sky Fishing, Looking For Lucy and Grace. She has also edited literature anthologies for Penguin and an anthology of early canadian women poets called Hidden Rooms. Her creative work has appeared in journals from coast to coast including Antigonish Review, Dalhousie Review, Descant, existere, Fiddlehead, Gaspereau Review, Grain, Harpweaver, New Quarterly, Queen's Quarterly, Room of One's Own, Vallum, Wascana Review, Windsor Review and in the anthologies Body Language and Landmarks.

Excerpt

Wings
 
for Jessica Whitney Dubroff
(1989-1996)

 
Women Fly. That’s the claim
embroidered in black letters
on her pink baseball cap
            forever seven, she graces
 
the cover of TIME
no longer a little girl
failing to pilot a plane
across the continent but a parable
 
I read on my flight to Toronto
while outside my window
the earth turns under her green quilt
like a pregnant woman seeking ease
 
I’m going to fly till I die says Jessica
straight down like a lawn dart  says an eyewitness
            we know, in the end, the grown-up pilot had taken over
because his arms were more fractured than hers                    

Women Fly      
 
Harriet Quimby, first woman to fly the English Channel
but everyone too busy salvaging Titanic dead to notice
months later she was flung from her plane
to be swallowed by that same ocean
 
Amelia Earhart in leather and pearls, swallowed
by the other ocean, then Christa McAuliffe
first civilian in space 
swallowed by the sky
          
there were women who broke records
without being broken themselves but they
are not the ones we remember
Daedalus had a daughter
 

 

Self Portrait with Monkeys
(oil on canvas 1943) Frida Kahlo
 
I never painted dreams.  I painted my own reality.
                                                — Frida Kahlo

 
she is surrounded by monkeys with eyes
as shiny as beads of a rosary or a gun
 
they peer from the foliage or insinuate
themselves into her body’s sentence
 
they throw a casual arm around her neck
or entwine her with tails as sinuous as snakes
 
they finger the scarlet embroidery next to her heart
and clasp the crisp white folds of her blouse
 
but she has taken flight from a frame injured beyond imagining
she is the clavicle butterfly pulsing in flesh shine and shadow
 
she is the dark wings of her brows like the crows
we drew before details devoured us
 
she is the bird of paradise that flies from her ear
as perfect as a peasant prayer

 
 
Rune
 
Thorn. The name of the Old English runic letter
 
how many are there
scored by scalpel, staples, stitches
the ancient alphabet of pain?
one in eight
 
a disease once distant suddenly everywhere
each year our women dying
one for every kilometre
between Halifax and Calgary
 
theories sprout like loosestrife
along this dark highway
but no certain knowledge
just a threnody in the throats
 
of birds on the green gown
that slips from the shoulders of the road

Reviews

Delving deep into history, Wanda Campbell's Daedalus Had a Daughter uses Greek myth to contemplate the condition of womanhood. Daedalus created wings for him and and his young son, Icarus. He warned Icarus not to fly too high as the… >>

Portage Daily Graphic

So what does this traveller from the Carnatic region of India bring to the reader in this her third book? Is it the spice and spirituality of that ancient civilization or, considering that her family emigrated to Canada when she… >>

— John Herbert Cunningham Prairie Fire Review of Books


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