By Mary Dalton
Red Ledger is Mary Dalton's fourth book of poems. A professor in the Department of English Language and Literature, Prof. Dalton is one of the province's most renowned and celebrated poets. In this latest volume, she continues to explore the culture of Newfoundland and Labrador through the lens of the province's distinctive musical, ironic and sometimes wry and pointed language. Consider her poem A Litany to be Said by Newfoundlanders:
(composed on the Canadian Mainland for their edification, with daily recitation being most efficacious.)
The vanished cod: our own fault.
The oiled seabirds: our own fault.
The Newfie jokes: our own fault.
Churchill Falls: our own fault, their sacred right.
Hibernia revenues: their sacred right.
McMurray tar sands: our own fault, their sacred right.
Brooks meat-packing: our own fault, their sacred right.
Confederation: our blessing, their burden.
Nostra culpa, nostra culpa, nostra maxima culpa.
According to the publisher, in Red Ledger, Prof. Dalton's "wit leaps forward to create yet another series of pressure-packed, tough-minded poems inseparable from their Atlantic source... The immediacy and precision of her diction and the large scope of her thinking evoke an elemental world in ways that recall the oral traditions from which Prof. Dalton has often drawn inspiration. Rarely has the formidable Newfoundland character found such authentic expression. Ranging from erotic lyrics to riddles, from parables to social-political meditations, Red Ledger is the work of an exceptional poet who has once again struck out on her own."
Mary Dalton has received various awards for her poetry, among them the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Award, and the TickleAce/Cabot Award. Her previous book, Merrybegot, won the 2005 E.J. Pratt Poetry Award, and was shortlisted for the Winterset Award, the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage and History Award; it was also released as an audiobook by Rattling Books. Red Ledger was nominated for an Atlantic Book Award and the 2007 E.J. Pratt Poetry Award. Her previous books include The Time of Icicles (1989), Allowing the Light (1993), Merrybegot (2003).
Red Ledger is published by Signal Editions/ Véhicule Press.