By Jamella Hagen

Nightwood Editions
5.5 x 8 - 80 pages
Paperback - $18.95
September 2011

What we used to burn for light
Before power lines snapped and hummed
Their way down the hill, pushing
Thin-skinned poplars to the ground.

In Kerosene, her debut book of poetry, Jamella Hagen weaves individual memories into a narrative that charts the process of orientation and growing maturity within shifting geographical locations.

Patterned on the author's own experience, the collection follows the story of a young woman's life, encompassing the beauty and harshness of a childhood spent in the wilderness of Northern BC, the difficult process of adapting to city life, a period of extensive travel in South America, and her eventual return to the north. From a position of experience, the poet is able to contemplate the events of her lifetime with a thoughtful and sometimes gently ironic voice.

Equal to the strength and wisdom of the memoir, however, is the richness and vividness of detail distilled through her clear and accessible style. Whether she's describing enigmatic memories of her mother, the exquisite but steadily disappearing Perito Moreno Glacier, or the moonshine still on her kitchen table, Hagen has mastered the trick of animating fleeting moments with an elegant touch that evokes both familiarity and wonder.