Book Review: Freshwater Pearls Anthology, 30 Years of Inspiring Writers (Recliner Books, 2011)
Reviewed by Jamal Ali
In this anthology, celebrating thirty years in the life of the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society, the reader is invited on a journey of reflection. The variety of writings: fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry enrich the reading journey. I am spiced up by the richness of the anthology’s themes: death, mistresses, gay children, ghosts, men dressed as women, old men chasing young women, wallpaper, ice fishing, running away, going back and the inside of a dumpster. As we read through the anthology’s pages, the echoes, “Variety is the spice of life,” enables us to find its freshwater pearls, that gem of truth worth sharing.
The lucid and vivid writing style of the contributors resonates with the reader. We get a sense of the writers seeking to express something deep within them and at the same time experiences that we can relate to in our lives.
The power of Lori Roadhouse’s, Autumn Dance, submerged my thoughts into my favourite season: Fall. My feelings of appreciation for fall are greatly inspired by this poem. Ellen Kelly’s, Keeping in Touch, reconnected me to the memories of my extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins in my birthplace: The Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago. Dina O’ Meara’s, In Kananaskis Country, conveys a sense of place and brings back memories of my hiking days with friends in this picturesque area. Jane Cawthorne’s, Nine Steps to Becky, reminded me of a book, Time Machine by H.G. Wells that I impulsively took from a friend’s place and returned it to him fifteen years later with yellowed pages.
Shaun Hunter’s, Walking Meditation, October led to my reflection of a walk I had with my father in scenic Bowmont Natural Park a few days before he passed away. During that memorable walk in April 2006, he said to me, “I’m glad that I’ve lived to see your writings in print. This is what you’ve always wanted to do. I’m very proud of you. Should I die, it’s my wish that you continue pursuing the written word. Like the scenery surrounding us, writing is beautiful.”
I cherished those days of my time spent with friends in the joys of ice fishing during the late 1970’s as I read Lee Kvern’s, White.
Freshwater Pearls attests to the superb talent of its contributors. I would highly recommend this anthology for those who enjoy a variety of writings. It’s an excellent read.