Kelowna poet’s experience of religious patriarchy and exclusion results in a debut poetry collection of radical inclusion
Ormsby Review’s Cole Klassen refers to Kelowna, B.C. poet Lesley-Anne Evans’ debut poetry collection MUTE SWAN: Poems for Maria Queen of the World as “a striking feminist book.”
In their recent review, Klassen describes beauty and grit within the poems, and a nurturing and wild femininity.
“I am so glad to see a Christian, British Columbian poet challenging mainstream evangelicalism. Sexism within conservative Christianity is a problem Evans has faced in a terribly real way, and as a result the book’s feminist moments are incredibly poignant.”
Evans says: “MUTE SWAN is for those who feel they don’t belong. It is an invitation to love and be loved, just as we are. It is my growing sense and experience that the Holy One welcomes us with arms flung wide. Writing MUTE SWAN has changed my life.”
MUTE SWAN explores the landscape of the voiceless—makes space for voices that have been misnamed, silenced, discounted, or subverted. Evans offers a story of spiritual awakening and “unmuting.” Through her willingness to look directly at injustice, impermanence, longing, beauty and love, Evans writes a way toward spiritual freedom and calls us home.
The St. Thomas Poetry Series (Toronto), known over twenty-five years for “excellence in both poetry and design” (Jeffery Donaldson, University of Toronto Quarterly), announced the publication of MUTE SWAN last week. The book was the beneficiary of advice from respected Canadian poets/editors Harold Rhenisch (Vernon), Daniela Elza (Vancouver), and Alice Major (Edmonton). In the series, it follows Second Gaze by Margo Swiss and Wild Hope by John Terpstra (2020) whose cover designs were also by Toronto graphic designer and illustrator, Andra Mares.
Stan Bevington of Coach House Press oversaw the typographical design of the book.
MUTE SWAN is available for purchase through The St. Thomas Poetry Series
website, and at Evans’s in-person readings.
Publisher David A. Kent says:
“Mute Swan is a remarkable debut collection, and I am very grateful to be able to bring it to public attention.”
Poet Susan McCaslin of Langley, B.C., a mentor to Evans, finds MUTE SWAN to be “…fiercely present…committed to justice-making as well as to the mysteries of being…”
“These are powerful, sometimes harrowing testimonies, woven together in fresh, often keenly beautiful poetry. A brave, original, memorable collection” says poet/priest Malcolm Guite, of Cambridge University.
Gareth Higgins, Northern Irish activist and author says, “MUTE SWAN…is a story beckoning me to a supper table where even the most rejected, fearsome and lonely parts can know home.”
A live streamed launch celebration will be held on December 11, 2021. Evans is also planning a series of readings including a feature at The Inspired Word Cafe (at BNA Kelowna) on February 3, 2022, with Parkland Poets on February 10, 2022, and with the Federation of BC Writers In/Verse on April 9, 2022.
LESLEY-ANNE EVANS is an Irish-Canadian poet. She writes from Feeny Wood, a contemplative Christian woodland retreat in Kelowna, B.C. on the traditional unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation. Red Couch, a street level gallery for marginalized artists, and SEE:kelowna, an exhibit sharing stories of those experiencing homelessness are examples of Lesley-Anne’s heart of inclusion. In her spare time Lesley-Anne builds nesting boxes, tends gardens, and forages wild berries for small batch jam.