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Poets in Profile: Rhea Tregebov Open Book Toronto

 

Rhea Tregebov is the author of All Souls’ (Vehicule Press). Her seventh collection (and her first since 2004), All Soul’s confronts the inextricable fears of both change and standing still.

Today we speak with Rhea as part of our Poets in Profile series, and hear from her about the poetry of Raymond Carver, the poetic possibilities of public transit and her tips and tricks for a poem that has stalled.

Find out what inspires, confounds and delights today’s Canadian poets by following our series.

Open Book:

Can you describe an experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a poet?

Rhea Tregebov:

I grew up bookish and often home sick from school, so from an early age lived, to some degree, in my head. But I think it was a junior high school English teacher who really set me off on the road to becoming a writer. She was the only teacher who encouraged us to do creative writing, an unusual activity in those days in the schools, and her considered praise of what I wrote made me believe in my writing.

OB:

What is the first poem you remember being affected by?

RT:

This goes back a very long ways, before I could read. My mother is a beautiful storyteller and she had, and still has, passionate convictions about social justice. So I remember listening spellbound as she recited “The Song of the Shirt” by Thomas Hood, a lament for working class oppression. The first verse went: “With fingers weary and worn,/ With eyelids heavy and red,/ A woman sat, in unwomanly rags, /Plying her needle and thread– / Stitch! stitch! stitch! /In poverty, hunger, and dirt, /And still with a voice of dolorous pitch / She sang the “Song of the Shirt.”” I can still hear my mother’s voice reciting it and feel the strength of her belief that this was not how the world was supposed to be.

For the rest of the interview, go to http://www.openbooktoronto.com/news/poets_profile_rhea_tregebov

For more information about All Souls’ please visit the Vehicule Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Check out all the Poets in Profile interviews in our archives.

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Winnipeg Free Press Review of All Souls’

Born in Saskatoon and raised in Winnipeg, Vancouver-based Rhea Tregebov begins her seventh collection, All Souls’ (Signal, 78 pages, $18) with a poem in which “You thought all the poems had grown up / and left home. You didn’t expect to find one / putting its little hands on your face.” A fine, fitting metaphor for the moment of poetic inspiration, which is notoriously difficult to place into words.
To read the complete review, go to Winnipeg Free Press or here.

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Quill & Quire Review of All Souls’ by George Fetherling

Rhea Tregebov opens her seventh poetry collection by telling us about a visitation she had that unexpectedly put an end to a period of literary silence: “You thought all the poems had grown up / and left home. / You didn’t expect to find one / putting its little hand on your face.”

This is a book about cycles, such as the poet’s geographical progress from Winnipeg to Toronto, then from Toronto (“I’m such a sorry mess I’ll miss it”) to the West Coast, where she teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia. Most of all, it centres on the cyclical experiences of families, of watching children becoming adults and adults eventually dying (or in her father’s case, getting lost in dementia): “My father can’t draw the hands of the clock, / can’t draw its face. In his own hand, the pencil / falters, rests.” “Family Dinners,” the last of three poem sequences, is the heart of the book, uniting Tregebov’s themes of childhood, maternity, and decay with gardening, dining, and impermanence.

To read the full review, go to Quill & Quire or here.

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The Toronto Quarterly Interview with Rhea Tregebov on All Souls’

TTQ – What inspired you to start writing poetry?
Rhea Tregebov – I was sick a lot as a kid, stayed home from school living in my imagination, very immersed in reading. So that living in my head was what got me started as a writer. Why it was poetry that drew me is a little more obscure, but I think it was in part a distrust of the causality (this happened because of that) that plot implied and in part a strong sense of the value of what went on in my, and by extension, others’, heads – that interior life. 

TTQ – How difficult is it for you to write a great poem?
Rhea Tregebov – Very rarely does the writing come easily. There are a few poems that have come just as gifts, but mostly it’s a question of revision after revision and a lot of sweat in working through to get it right. It feels like I often start with an amorphous block of marble and then have to write my way through, chipping away to the shape of the poem inside. In terms of figuring out what is my best work, that’s pretty hard too, but luckily I have some very adept fellow writers who help me out with that evaluation.

 

To read the complete article, go to http://thetorontoquarterly.blogspot.ca/2012/11/rhea-tregebov-all-souls-interview.html

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Vancouver is Awesome feature on Reading

Read All Over celebrates the bookworm in all of us, showcasing readers in Vancouver and the books they love most.
Rhea Tregebov is a poet, novelist and children’s writer. Born in Saskatoon and raised in Winnipeg, she spent many years in Toronto and then was lured to Vancouver eight years ago by a job in the Creative Writing Program at UBC. Her seventh collection of poetry, All Souls’,was released by Signal Editions/Véhicule Press (Montreal) in September, 2012. 

Her historical novel, The Knife-Sharpener’s Bell (Coteau Books), follows a Winnipeg family who make a reverse migration back to the Soviet Union in the 1930s. She’ll be at the Jewish Book Festival on Thursday November 29, at the Vancouver JCC.

What are you currently reading? Your thoughts on it?

I’ve just finished Linda Svendsen’s Sussex Drive, a wickedly funny Ottawa satire with a very frightening, too-close-for-comfort political message. And I’ve started Annabel Lyon’s The Sweet Girl, which features Aristotle’s daughter Pythias, and is a sequel to The Golden Mean, Lyon’s book about the philosopher. I find the way Lyon is able to enter the human mind of Classical times uncanny, unsettling, and fascinating. Since I can never read just one thing at a time, I’ve also started Rachel Rose’s new book of poetry, Song & Spectacle. I’m a long-time fan of Rose’s work, and admire as much the wisdom of how she sees the world as the technique that makes her such a skilled writer.

 

To read the whole feature, go to http://vancouverisawesome.com/2012/11/28/read-all-over-rhea-tregebov/

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Maisonneuve review of All Souls’

All Souls’ (Signal Editions), Rhea Tregebov‘s seventh collection of poetry, unwraps the banal, beautiful experiences of a uniquely Canadian life. The lines are delicate but visceral: ‘Soon / it will rain, soon wind will spread / the prairie dust, moths will give up / their lives against the glass,’ Tregebov writes in ‘House Work.’ Tregebov’s poems are thoughtful and confident, but never overreach. Her use of language is effortless, allowing the book to contemplate—sometimes quietly, sometimes more forcefully—the way in which small moments speak to a larger human consciousness.” Taylor Tower, Maisonneuve, Issue 45.

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Poem for All Souls’ Day

The title poem of Rhea Tregebov’s new book on this dark day…

All Souls’ Day

 

 

Some moon – full, and fall.

So close it grazes the houses.

The clocks gone back now – six

and it’s near dark. That moon

bright, though, and this city. Cars,

their lights, wash by on pavement

made for them. This sidewalk,

its dates marked in concrete

(1977, 1992), made for me.

By someone. That someone

a soul now perhaps, body

done, in earth. Winter soon.

 

© Rhea Tregebov

from All Souls’, Signal Editions, Véhicule Press, September 2012

ISBN: 978-155065-338-0

http://rheatregebov.ca

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Recordings of Yiddish Stories and Poems by Women Writers

Readings by members of the Winnipeg Yiddish Women’s Reading Circle (recorded in 2011).

 The Winnipeg Yiddish Women’s Reading Circle meets monthly in order to read, hear, and discuss stories and poems by female Yiddish authors that would otherwise be forgotten. By rescuing the stories of these writers, the participants in the Reading Circle are also able to enjoy listening and speaking their mameloshn, or mother-tongue. 

Yiddish was the language of Central and Eastern European Jewry and was brought to Winnipeg by Jewish immigrants. Many of the women in the Reading Circle are the children of immigrants and thus grew up in Yiddish-speaking homes. Some of them were students at the I. L. Peretz Folk Shul, a Winnipeg Yiddish-language school that was the first full-time Jewish day school in North America. Other members immigrated to Winnipeg from Europe after the Holocaust. 

The Winnipeg Reading Circle has been remarkably active since its inception in 2001. In 2007 the group published an anthology of English translations of their favourite stories, Arguing with the Storm: Stories by Yiddish Women Writers, edited by Rhea Tregebov (Toronto: Sumach Press; New York: The Feminist Press). The Reading Circle was also recognized by the UNESCO and was included in its Register of Good Practices in Language Preservation.

Yiddish is no longer spoken or understood by the majority of Ashkenazi Jews (Jews of Central and East European origin). The women of the Winnipeg Reading Circle belong to an increasingly small group of Winnipeggers fluent in the language. The stories and poems presented here have been translated into English, but the women who read these stories for you hope that by listening to the original Yiddish, even those who do not understand the language will get an impression of  the humour, linguistic musicality, and emotional depth in the Yiddish language and Yiddish literature. 

To access the website, click here.

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YouTube video Rhea Tregebov reading at La Muse

A glimpse of the amazing La Muse Writers’ Retreat. Rhea reading new poems, some written there. Two links: one (5 1/2 minutes) and the second one  (less than a minute). The baby cooing is John and Kerry’s daughter Gloria, one of  the muses of La Muse.

Part 1

Part 2

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