The rich and varied poems in Ukrainian Daughter’s Dance speak to the heart as they document a woman’s life journey, as a Ukrainian-Canadian, and as a prairie woman, and her voyage of self-discovery. Her story can be anyone’s story. Poems explore issues of immigrant identity and voice in the prairies, and celebrate a cultural heritage expressed through song, dance, art, work and life.
"Marion Mutala writes with tender grace. Her poems are wide-ranging, vivid, real, and intimate. Open this book and prepare to enter the world of a true Ukrainian Daughter, dancing barefoot in the black dirt."
—Alice Kuipers, author of Life on the Refrigerator Door
"Marion Mutala has a way of forming captivating rhythms of words that dance around in my mind, joyfully creating extraordinary images as I read."
—Carey Rigby-Wilcox, Award-winning Author and Illustrator
Marion Mutala has a master’s degree in education administration and taught for 30 years. With a mad passion for the arts she loves to write, sing, folkdance, play guitar, garden, travel, and read. She is the author of the bestselling and award-winning children’s book trilogy, Baba’s Babushka: A Magical Ukrainian Christmas, Baba’s Babushka: A Magical Ukrainian Easter, and Baba’s Babushka: A Magical Ukrainian Wedding. Her fourth book, Grateful was published in 2014 and another children’s book, Kohkom’s Babushka: A Magical Ukrainian/Aboriginal Legend, is forthcoming in 2016. Ukrainian Daughter’s Dance is her debut poetry collection.
Ukrainian Daughter's Dance by Marion Mutala
reviewed by Candice James
Canadian Poetry Review - October 10, 2016
Marion Mutala opens the book with 3 poems that open the door to the Ukrainian Daughter’s Dance: “Memories”, “Washboard”, and “Old Farmhouse” focus a soft lens on her youth and open our hearts and minds to the nostalgia of our own youthful days .
In the poem “Depression” Mutala compares this intangible disease to a beast stalking her sister:
“Stalking beast attacks / Wears mask / Camouflage the blues”
And then ends the poem with what seems like a cure “of sorts” which really isn’t a cure at all.
“Once a wild caged animal / Medicated / then born again /
She acts like a simple child”
“Seductress” brings into focus the perils of falling prey to the liquid flames of alcohol of which fallout can create holocausts, tsunamis, and total destruction of soul of a long period of substance abuse. From opening line:
“She looks at me with magnetic dark eyes”
To the ending stanza
“She falls asleep in my arms /
My bottle of lust, my sparkling bottle of rum /
Slowly, one ounce at a time”
My favourite poem in the book is “Effect”, a nature poem, short, sweet and filled with vivid imagery:
“Nature encompasses / a sundog / beautifying / the cold sky”
And what a fitting ending to end the book with the title poem “Ukraininan Daughter’s Dance”. Mutala proudly displays her heritage in these excerpted lines:
“I am what I am I say”
“I’ll always be a prairie girl /
and daughter of a Ukrainian matya”
“And a Ukrainian Prairie daughter will always /
dance barefoot in the black dirt
Dancing through the pages to the magical rhythm Mutala’s poetry exudes is enjoyable indeed.
Visiting the old farm house, a flashback-
Tubs of peas shelled during Matinees
Stealing eggs, making soft, squishy mud pies
Flying paper dolls, changing bed sheets
Swinging water pails
Playing in the old grey caboose
Jumping in bales
Waiting by the screen door exasperated, I take a chance
Running scared to the outhouse
Tormented by turkeys and chickens
Sleeping three to a bed
Feet hanging through a hole in the ceiling; listening
Thunderstorms, cracks of lightning
Hiding under bedcovers
Waking, eyes glued shut from pink eye