1297 Here to celebrate the moon

A Sure Connection
by W.M Herring

Surrey: Now or Never Publishing, 2021
$19.95  /  9781989689288

Reviewed by Danny Peart


In A Sure Connection, a first collection of 69 poems on a number of themes, W.M. (Wendy) Herring shows that she is fully prepared to do the work of a poet. Born in Quebec, Herring grew up in Vancouver, lived in the northern Interior of BC, and now lives at tidewater in East Sooke on Vancouver Island. One of her themes, rural life, returns frequently:

Easy Grace

A fine morning in the ninth month
migrant birds lately flown
round rosehips grown glossy red
uncut hay well lodged,
wet from last night’s rain —
cirrostratus cloud strafes scattered
rays across thunder-struck sky.

Boreal chickadee lands
on a willow branch
feels it sway under the burden,
fluffs feathers to catch
some tender warmth
rising since sunrise,
accepts provision of the day
seems not to yearn
for some other plan.

My fond hope:
to find a place
and settle in
with such easy grace.

Herring takes an interest and writes well about many wild creatures — “the buck at meadow’s edge,” the “great padded paws” of the lynx, a barred owl chased by crows, and a coyote and two deer in a poem I especially like:

Wendy Herring. Photo by Robert Destrubé

Night Passage

Drawn by skiff of fresh snow
I trek at dawn to the field seeking
crisp prints with tales of night passage.

Coyote travels alone, exits the woods
by the beaver dam, lopes between saplings
at field’s end, toward the main trail.
She does not wander nor change her gait.
Is she here to celebrate the moon?

Two deer leave the main trail and cross that field
headed for open water — the runoff stream
below the dam. They need a cool drink
before they rest. There is no haste.

The hare carries on beside the deer track then stops.
No movement forward, no retreat.
This story is penned in wingtip-ruffled snow.
An odyssey ends and an owl glides away.

Herring takes us with her for her experience at the local Farmers’ Market:

Gourmet grilled cheese

It’s a bit of a cheat, selling grilled cheese
sandwiches at the Farmers’ Market.
            Grow it, bake it or make it.
I didn’t grow it, no real baking and the
Making takes five minutes, start to finish.

What’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese?
Is it deep fried? It’s a sandwich.
The sign doesn’t say that.
The sign is incomplete: it’s
a grilled cheese sandwich….

Wendy Herring

The writer is fearless when she discovers a snake in her kitchen cupboard. From the poem Two Snakes:

…I detect at the periphery
            Tight against the jamb
a gently swaying form,
at least a metre long
thick as my wrist
forked tongue flicking
in and out, side to side.

…I grasp him firmly near the middle
            heedless of unavoidable musk
carry him outside two-handed
set him by the woodpile.

Having read every poem in the book, and noted these lines I liked best, I have put some thought into how this collection could be better? Perhaps the book could be divided into five or six separate topical chapters to give the reader selected breaks and allow the satisfaction of completing and reflecting on every chapter. But this is a minor quibble about Wendy Herring’s A Sure Connection, the inaugural book by a new and authentic voice of rural British Columbia.


Danny Peart

Danny Peart has published three books of poetry and stories: Ruined By Love (2012), Stark Naked in a Laundromat: The Port Dalhousie Stories (2016), and Another Mountain to Climb (2017), all published by Milagro Press. He lives in Vancouver. Editor’s note: Danny Peart has also reviewed books by Garry Thomas MorseGeorge Bowering & George Stanley and Patrick Friesen for The Ormsby Review, and his book Another Mountain to Climb was reviewed here by Isabella Wang


The Ormsby Review. More Books. More Reviews. More Often.

Publisher and Editor: Richard Mackie

 The Ormsby Review is a journal service for in-depth coverage of BC books and authors in all fields and genres. The Advisory Board consists of Jean Barman, Wade Davis, Robin Fisher, Cole Harris, Hugh Johnston, Kathy Mezei, Patricia Roy, Maria Tippett, and Graeme Wynn. Scholarly Patron: SFU Graduate Liberal Studies. Honorary Patron: Yosef Wosk. Provincial Government Patron since September 2018: Creative BC

“Only connect.” – E.M. Forster

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