Geomantic riposte: 'Lean-To'

Tonja Gunvaldsen Klaassen was born and raised on the Canadian prairies, where she learned, among other things, how to make relish and flapper pie. Her collection of poetry Clay Birds was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award and won the Saskatchewan Poetry Award in 1996. Her collection Ör, won a John V. Hicks manuscript prize and was shortlisted for the 2004 Pat Lowther Award. Now a resident of Halifax, Klaassen was awarded the 2010 Atlantic Poetry Prize for her collection, Lean-To, which is presented yearly to the best full-length books of adult poetry written by an Atlantic Canadian. As Mike Borkent indicates eloquently in a review in Canadian Literature, “Klaassen’s Lean-To draws on the sensuality and rhythms of everyday tasks to construct a space of belonging and being, at home and in family ... The focus on materiality is also expressed in playful, open poetic forms, with frequent line breaks and spaces emphasising the lexical content and aural/oral aspects of language while simultaneously gesturing to the unsayable affection and love that burgeons out from these details. It is in the sensorial layering and formal manipulations that love resonates ... the poetry’s noteworthy kaleidoscopic representation of the sensorium, which aligns familial and spousal love within a rich tapestry of daily life—gritty, pungent, sweet, dark, elated—offers an engaging return to love poetry.”

Lean-To by Tonja Gunvaldsen Klaassen (Gaspereau Press, 2009, Page 30)


Saskatchewan flat out on the air mattress, barrel chest full of sauerkraut

and hair, saskatoons deep in shirt pockets. The rolled crust of sprayed

wheat laid on the counter. Gravel and flour dust, the white truck swerve

along a correction line, light clattering its knife handles against fieldstone,

a garter in the teeth, the lace of it, the snake of it, stretching it back and

back back back, expecting a kiss, expecting the guests, expecting horses,

coyotes, tuxedos, lipstick on the windshield—


Geomantic Riposte: Saskatoons


Per capita, Saskatoon produces more NHLers than Regina but on average

Natives have a low turnout  getting worked up over the Anti-Lacrosse    It's

something we crush, admittedly            What brings us all together is getting

economically AND environmentally screwed        Some days our collective

ignorance can transcend bringing phrenology back             Jackrabbits

stop for the sound of the coyote in the distance        Normally they taunt

the out of shape dogs      leaping in and out of land reserve gating      This

takes my mind off intellectual resources I extract and shoot across the

“49th” so I can ruminate     dead matters     smushed between Five Guys

little burger and complain about the imported cheese and make love on

a windshield positively covered        with saskatoons         This Stegnerian

idyll is reportedly brighter than the reflection of ice crystals in the snow