Sandy Shreve’s “Found Poems”

By Beverly Cramp

Her new book of poetry, "Waiting for the Albatross", reconfigures word fragments from her dad's 1936 diary, which he kept while toiling as a young deckhand.
The poems are an ode to working life at sea eighty years ago.

Sandy Shreve had the luck to be given the old diary shortly after her father died. It covers the time when Jack Shreve was an unmarried, 21 year-old on his first foray into the larger world outside his Maritimes home. The back drop was the Great Depression and the eve of World War II.

Amost 80 years later, Sandy Shreve has spun the diary’s ‘found words’ into a book of poems, Waiting for the Albatross (Oolichan Books $19.95). She re-arranges, twists, and repeats her father’s words to highlight their rhythm and descriptive beauty but always with a view to honouring his stories.

In the book’s Foreword, Sandy Shreve writes: “Although I’ve fiddled and tinkered with Dad’s diary, the poems I’ve written remain true to the experiences he described and retain his voice.”

She makes it clear that what she has composed is different from what her father jotted down. “While Dad wrote a diary, what I have created is more of a collage, using bits and pieces plucked from various days, weeks and months without regard to linear time… The book starts and ends where you’d expect, but in between, it skips around a bit.”

On the book’s jacket cover, author Rob Taylor says: “It’s a book of poetry and also a history. It’s formal and plain-spoken, contemplative and bloody-knuckled. It’s then and it’s now. It’s a father and daughter talking across great distances.”

Read more in the BC Booklook.