Agnes in the Sky is a book of poetry seen through the eyes of a Mennonite in a not-so-Mennonite world. Coming to terms with her past, author Di Brandt explores the love between parents and lovers, family relationships, childhood abuse, desire, longing, and the universe at large.
Winner of the McNally Robinson Manitoba Book of the Year Award (1990)
"... a lush and stunning book that more than fulfills the promise of her justly celebrated debut, questions i asked my mother."
- Prairie Fire
"Fairy tales, myths and folklore have been incorporated with Brandt's voice of rebellion. There is now elegance in conjunction with rawness as Brandt has moved towards a greater acceptance of her roots -- and as she herself has been more accepted."
- Prairie Bookworld
"There is a tremendous emotional force here, especially in those poems that deal with a woman's relationships, past and present, with her mother and her father. Reading them can be painful, exhilarating, embarrassing, uplifting, all at the same time. Then you notice also that there is a firm control at work here... The visual appearance of the poems on the page seems so neat, so austere, so cold, in contrast to the emotional outpourings of the words. The poems exist in this tension between outcry and control, and it is this tension which ensures their power, their importance, and their beauty."
- Malahat Review
"There are images in Manitoba poet Di Brandt's writing that suggest an older, primal world order, of Federico Garcia Lorca's poetry, Thomas Hardy's fiction or Euripides' dramas: blood, the earth, the fearsome father figure and hidden, long-nursed feminine wounds and grievances."
- The Globe and Mail
"There is ecstasy in Agnes in the sky, the kind of ecstasy found in the moment when the great burdens of the past are understood for what they are."
- North Dakota Quarterly
"Brandt's are fine contemporary poems: skillfully and simply crafted, dynamic, accessible, and often inspired. Her work deserves a wide audience."
- Canadian Book Review Annual
Di Brandt "offers poems of relationships and remembrance that are like knives and roses -- they alternately cut and heal."
- Minnesota Women's Press
"These poems of Di Brandt's achieve that delicate balance between resistance and affirmation, where opposites are not rejected but burn passionately and sustain each other, as they do in our lives."
- Erin Mouré
"Di Brandt's first book, questions i asked my mother, gave powerful poetic expression to her feminist challenge of Mennonite traditions, thereby catching the admiring attention of literary and women's communities across Canada. This second book will deepen our attention and admiration for Brandt's writing talents and fierce desire for female freedom and human wholeness. [Her] work reclaims the legitimacy of art as both political and therapeutic, reclaims its agency and tribal magic."
- Libby Scheier
"Some of these poems feel like they're not written, they're raw like that, bursting out of language into the reader's experience; others are elegant, you have to stop and read them aloud, their rhythms so smooth they almost slide by. Most of these poems, even when they're dense, move on light feet; they're quick, as if ink hardly touched the page."
- Patrick Friesen
"These poems are rich and powerful. They display themselves with a dense, measured movement of words that is strangely and beautifully delicate. I came away from this book impressed by its musicality, its lyric wholeness."
- Patrick Lane