Memory and reality, homeland and settlement, life and death—uncovering sacrifices, secrets, and forgiveness.
Fields of Light and Stone is a book of poetry in the Robert Kroetsch Series. Poet Angeline Schellenberg’s work has been recognized most recently by the jurors for the Kobzar Award: her volume is one of three shortlisted titles for this coveted award, coordinated by the Shevchenko Foundation.
Angeline is a poet living in Treaty 1 territory (Winnipeg). Her first full-length collection, Tell Them It Was Mozart, received three Manitoba Book Awards and was a finalist for a ReLit Award for Poetry.
Following the deaths of her Mennonite grandparents, Angeline began exploring their influence on her life. Her elegiac love letter to them articulates her grief against the backdrop of their involuntary emigration. She artfully captures the immigrant identity, vital to Canadian culture, in poems that draw on events both personal and global: war and famine, dementia and cancer, hidden sacrifice and secrets. Her poems captivate with themes of ancestry, memory, resilience, and forgiveness. Fields of Light and Stone is a reflection on how family history shapes and moves us.
You lie awake,
this patchwork guilt.
Remorse, a code
you live by; distress calls
for someone to blame.
“In Fields of Light and Stone, Angeline Schellenberg turns to old love letters, datebooks, sermon notes, archived genealogies, and her own memory in a quest to understand her biological and spiritual heritage. Her search uncovers a treasure trove of courage and betrayal, love and loss. Through the alchemy of honed poetic skills and unflinching insight, her findings are transformed into evocative and personal poems that honour beloved grandparents and will echo long in the minds and memory of her readers.” Sarah Klassen
“Angeline Schellenberg performs acts of remembrance that are all the more poetic for being scrupulously plainspoken, like their subjects. As I read these lyrical, earthbound gestures, Denise Levertov’s lines about her own ancestors, who ‘prayed with the bench and the floor’ kept coming back to me. Fields of Light and Stone is a series of love letters to the dead that makes its own eloquence out of ‘what was at hand,’ musical like a western meadowlark, ordinary like a well-worn burlap sack—an elegy to cherish.” Don McKay
“Fields of Light and Stone excavates the relationships between Schellenberg’s Mennonite grandparents….The book moves among various styles and source materials as through sheaves of distinct documents…” Carl Watts, Canadian Literature [Full article]
“I was immediately attracted to its contents because of the illustration on the jacket (Last Embrace by Miriam Rudolph)…. Between the covers are poems that sing of love and loss…. Schellenberg’s playful use of words is evident throughout…. This book will resonate with those writing memoirs or translating old letters and will perhaps inspire others to do so. Not that long ago, I sat with the boxes of correspondence my parents had left behind after they passed away. Many of the thoughts Schellenberg expresses in her creative, poetic style went through my mind at that time and they linger still. She has left a tribute to her grandparents that will stand the test of time.” Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder, Mennonite History
“Schellenberg’s collection is a love letter to these four people [grandparents] whose lives were so completely intertwined with hers.” Kyla Neufeld, Prairie Books Now [Full article]
“Schellenberg’s best poems don’t offer easy answers, and do a good job of letting the question lie.”
Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press
“While most of the book’s poems are based on personal connections Schellenberg built with her grandparents over the years, she also explores topics of their ancestry, immigration, and courtship…. Some of the poems touch on the poignant theme of loss…” Brenda Sawatzky, Niverville Citizen [Full article]
“Schellenberg’s Fields of Light and Stone enacts the terms of her title with its tender and exacting invocations of familial love…. [O]ne of the delicate strengths of Schellenberg’s poems of mourning is their fresh grief at old losses…. Fields of Light and Stone has a light touch that never confuses love for denial of death, and Angeline Schellenberg finds painful beauty in the imperfections of mourning.” Tanis MacDonald, Journal of Mennonite Studies
Thoughts on Book Clubs
Among Angeline Schellenberg’s most rewarding experiences of publishing Fields of Light and Stone has been:
“…listening to book clubs lovingly read my poems back to me, hearing how I’ve given them words for their own family experiences.
It’s a lonely time for writers. If you love a Canadian book, why not get some friends together to read it and invite the author into your conversation?”