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Home is where the heart is we say the aphorism is attributed to the Roman scholar Pliny and that place may not always be where we live and work and love We can carry our notion of home around with us we cannot choose our homelands but our hearts tell us when and wherewe're home This anthology brings together a range of voices that express how it feels to leave the country of one's birth and move to another The voices speak of uncertainty and longing of what poet Robert Frost called the ache of memory as much as they do of relief and contentmentThe immigrant writers represented here have experienced emotional struggles as they attempted and continue to attempt to reconcile ambition and nostalgia hope and regret their futures with their pasts And it would appear that most immigrants despite inevitable struggles setback and uncertainties have managed to adapt and prosper with remarkable skill courage and resilience As Canadian writer Audrey Thomas has aptly said Canada is not the promised land although it is a land full of promise

5 thoughts on “Home and Homeland

  1. says:

    I am not a big reader of literary anthologies but after reading this one I can see now how uniuely they explore all sides or perspectives of an issue or theme In the introduction the editors write that it would be easy to amass a collection of upbeat stories about how great Canada is or a collection of horror stories about racism and tragedy but they have decided to strike a balance between the two Even so I feel that their selections had a mostly bleak outlook on immigration Overall the book served its purpose it left me feeling somewhat confused about immigrants' sense of belonging and irate at how unjustly they have been treated which was the editors' intentThe book has its highs and lows The first three or four segments were mainly historical essays and primary source writings that were pretty dry and made the book difficult to get into But once I got past these I found plenty of selections I enjoyed My favourites are below 'The Fish' by T Hiramatus is a short and sweet little poem about how uickly some goldfish imported from abroad have adapted to Swimming in Canadian Waters 'First Neighbours' by Margaret Atwood is an evocative poem about the clumsiness and embarrassment of adapting to the strange climate and inhabitants of Canada Excerpt from 'The Little Immigrants' by Kenneth Bagnell is a heart wrenching snapshot of the abuse of an English home child 'Forbidden Fruit' by Paul Yee reads just like an old folk tale complete with three sons who go off to seek their fortune a beautiful girl who dies of a broken heart and the origin of the tomato 'Being Brown' by Rosemary Brown a frank and bitter tasting expose of racism Canadian style 'Palumelo' by Donna Caruso is a charming reflection about the author's special relationship with her Italian speaking grandmother 'Let All Our People Come' by Richard McPhee a serious meditation about the nature of Canada's immigration policy 'Eual Opportunity' by Jim Wong Chu a wryly funny poem about how the Chinese earned the right to sit on trains anywhere they like 'Neighbour' by Sadhu Binning a poem about an immigrant's unfulfilled longing to befriend his neighbour possibly because he's been let down in the pastBesides the dry historical selections there were other aspects of the book that I disliked Many selections were from the perspective of children usually excerpts from memoirs but a couple of these seemed to have been written for children and contained overly moralistic messages about accepting others' differences and appreciating one's parents specifically 'Tobago Talk' by Marlene Nourbese Philip and 'Jewish Christmas' by Fredelle Bruser Maynard Two different selections were about a son's inability to communicate with his Chinese speaking mother 'Why My Mother Can't Speak English' by Garry Engkent and 'Strangers' by Michael Ngo which seemed redundantI would have liked a bit spacing between the selections at least one page since sometimes I would finish one poem and move on to another without realizing it and I would be confused by how the tone and subject had changed Writing style tone and country of origin changes with each selection and having the selections all suished together makes it hard to switch gears as a reader Some poems are very brief like 'About This Time' by Takeo Ujo Nakano only 5 lines and need a little space lest they are skimmed over while reading longer meatier sections Finally and this is my most finicky criticism some images are located in the centre of two pages and the binding makes it so that they are difficult to see