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 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.
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
Eigenheim is a beautiful and substantial first book from a poet who courageously embraces the contemporary world with all its uncertainty, gives it her full attentiveness, and communicates it in images and sounds of enduring power.
Barbara Colebrook Peace, The Malahat Review
Epp explores "home" as both inescapable and irretrievable. Her poems pulsate with the longing to go beyond the known, to explore what lies "outside the streetlamps," past "where the road disappears." ...Both gently eloquent and unsettling...Eigenheim is a debut well worth reading.
Mabyn Troup Dueck, Rhubarb Magazine
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.
[Epp] writes with an appealing stolidity from an older woman's perspective. She is cautious because she is good.
Andrew Dubois, University of Toronto Quarterly
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