Crisadi Press

Emilie Sion Swan Country

Swan Country

Poetry from Emilie Sion

Emilie Sion was born in 1927 in Kansas City, Kansas. She spent her early childhood in Cuba where her father oversaw a sugar cane plantation owned by the Royal Bank of Canada. After the revolution of 1933, the family moved to Massachusetts, where her father tried unsuccessfully to continue his agricultural career. There she went to high school and attended Harvard University while the family lived in her grandmother's house in Melrose. After the death of her father and grandmother, she taught school in Milwaukee and then moved with her sisters and mother to California where she taught school in the Bay Area. There she met her husband, Maurice Sion, a mathematician, and together with their young family, they moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where she began submitting her poetry to literary journals. Although she always returned to Vancouver, the family lived a time in Fiesole, Italy and Strasbourg, France. She spent summers at Francois Lake in the Lakes District of British Columbia and in the later years of her life she spent the winter months of each year in Paris.

She was fascinated by the connection between the spirit and the real world and much of her poetry could perhaps be considered a shamanistic revelation of this connection, showing us something we all know, but may not be able to see clearly or articulate directly. The Italian, French, and above all the British Columbia landscapes that she encountered, and the people with whom she shared her experiences, inspired much of her poetry. Her early poems were published in a who’s who list of Canadian, British and American literary journals, including Prism International, the Fiddlehead, Northern Light, The Far Point, Sou’wester, Canadian Poetry, Quartet, The Malahat Review, The Canadian Forum, The Antigonish Review, Aphra, and many others. She gave readings wherever she went, including the Literary Storefront in Vancouver and Writers and Company in Paris. Towards the end of the 1980s she shifted her publishing focus to studies of mythology, but while she stopped submitting her poetry to literary publications, she did not stop writing poetry. In fact, much of the poetry she wrote from the late 1980s until she stopped writing poetry in the early 2000s, while never published, is perhaps her most accessible and assured work.

"Emilie is moonshine on the back garden and sun on the front. She writes from childhood to motherhood with the mind of both, the wonder, never lost, of things ominous and mindboggling in their nuance and beauty:

and there
at the wind's wits' end
we left
our whistling bones.

The only poet who truly compares with Emilie is Emily Dickinson. Then, did Emily ever stand with the 'ocean turning, pools deepening, small fishes
hitting her legs'? There is the scope of far places of earth and mind in Emilie, a sense of European surreal and American, ordinary William
Carlos William's 'red wheelbarrow in the rain' brilliance to her work.

This is a bedside book, a poem before bed to dream on, and one to wake up to, take out and look at the world through Emilie's eyes."

— George McWhirter, Vancouver's inaugural poet laureate


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