*Winner of the 2012 Prince Edward Island Book Award for Poetry*
This collection of moving poetry puts into words the heartbreak and triumphs of looking after ailing parents.
What Really Happened is This is a poetry memoir that focuses on the ten-year journey of an adult "only child" as her beloved parents face declining health and death. The wry, poignant, humorous, and sometimes heartbreaking, poems chronicle the poet's struggle to find balance in her life, as she juggles the needs of her family with her own work and creative life. The poems touch on the universal in specific experiences, as the poet faces the death of each parent, and realizes she is now next in line.
From the Chronicle Herald, April 1
Rarely do I finish a book of poetry in tears and laughter. Anyone who has lost (or almost lost) parents in their 70s and 80s be warned: This is a potent and lucid collection from one of Prince Edward Island’s finest poets.
It’s all about resonance. When you have aging parents, with all the medical issues and close calls that come with the territory, reading well-crafted poetry describing the joys of life and slow destruction of death is like plucking heartstrings. You get sympathetic vibration. Mutual experience is the key. A good poet simply opens the door.
From Acorn Press, What Really Happened Is This becomes the third book for Morrow. I reviewed her first, Long Reach Home, for the League of Poets website in 2002, also with great fondness and respect.
The title poem was the most difficult to read. Chilling. Lyrical. Sad. But my favourite poem, Loon, is short and deeply metaphorical, perhaps even metaphysical: “. . . it’s red eye / fixes me / before it flies / I pedal away / blessed to be / its only human witness."
To paraphrase the well-deserved praise of Richard Lemm, Morrow is a gifted storyteller who touches the journey of grief and loss, the celebration of the landscape of love, and shows us the path to gratitude and acceptance.
This is a brave and important book.
It is timeless and timely. It is written by an only child who must bear this joy and sorrow without siblings to share, increasing the power of the memoir and focusing the heart.
Morrow is an honest and skilled human witness, who absolutely, as her parents’ epitaph implies: “Did the best she could." Her voice becomes yours.
This is a hard tale worth reading. No CD required.
Philip Thompson helped establish the Pottersfield Portfolio in 1979, serving as contributing editor. He has published poems for 40 years and his work is included in the 2002 Line by Line anthology by Heather Spears as “one of Canada’s most revered fifty poets."