Home is like “a memory of a lost photograph,” elusive but vivid. A place of tenuous security, “one claw on the screen” can threaten the entire structure. Joanne Epp, in her first collection of poetry, Eigenheim, shapes and reshapes the peculiar characteristics of one’s own idea of home.
Without defining the precise dimensions, there is room enough to house the essentials. Examining death and birth, loss and love, deep searching and unquenchable longing, Epp reaches back to her rural Mennonite roots while restlessly exploring what lies just beyond the sun’s reach.
"Joanne Epp's poetry collection Eigenheim manages to linger in the past without ever getting sentimental. Epp's nostalgia is beautifully unpleasant, caught up in the hidden glances between teen girls in a locker room and the violent dissonance between now and then."
"The poems of Winnipeg's Epp have a relaxed pace and offer imagery as clear as glass."
--Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press
"The longing expressed in these...poems for something new, even though the speaker does not know what that newness will be, is akin to Eigenheim’s entrance onto the Mennonite literary scene. We may not have known we were looking for it, but once we have found it, it feels just right."
-- Daniel Shank Cruz, The Mennonite Quarterly Review
Joanne Epp’s Eigenheim speaks a quiet and beautiful mourning for the things and people that make up our sense of place, of home. Epp is deeply attuned to the land and the ways in which we locate our stories in a particular space; at the same time, she is a knowledgeable chronicler of the ways in which we hide our most painful losses in a parallel internal landscape. This is a strong first collection that speaks resonantly of home, of identity, and of quiet faith.
Joanne Epp’s debut collection reminds us that home is “no longer static, but follows us from place to place.” These poems map the circumference of a life: from ancestors, whose “names are all that holds them here,” to “our changing selves,here at the edge of the known world.” Whether walking “February streets in search of lilacs” or lying on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, these personal recollections are stones carried in a pocket, “the things [we] can’t get rid of” that make us who we are.
Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Joanne Epp has published poetry in literary journals including The New Quarterly, The Antigonish Review, and CV2. Her chapbook, Crossings, was released in 2012. Eigenheim is her first full-length poetry collection. Married with two sons, she spent several years in Ontario and now makes her home in Winnipeg.