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Poetry Canadian

The Love Song of Laura Ingalls Wilder

by (author) Sharon McCartney

Nightwood Editions
Initial publish date
Jun 2007
Canadian, General
Recommended Age
Recommended Grade
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2007
    List Price

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2008 Winner of the Acorn-Plantos Award for People's Poetry

The Love Song of Laura Ingalls Wilder is an unusual collection of poems that combines craft, innovation, humour and down-to-earth insight in a focused and riveting read that will charm poetry buffs of every stripe.

The poems in The Love Song of Laura Ingalls Wilder subversively and imaginatively inhabit the voices of characters from Wilder's famous Little House books--human and non-human, animate and inanimate--but launch them in new directions. Rather than acting as extensions of Wilder's stories, the voices, characters and details in the poems become vehicles for modern-day questions and observations.

With titles like "Ma's Green Delaine Dress," "Mary's Fingers," "Pa's Rifle" and "Pa's Penis," the poems in The Love Song of Laura Ingalls Wilder are anything but conventional. Peculiar, gripping and exquisitely crafted, The Love Song of Laura Ingalls Wilder is an unforgettable new collection.

About the author

Sharon McCartney is the author of two previous poetry
collections, Under the Abdominal Wall (Anvil) and Karenin Sings the Blues (Goose Lane), and the chapbook Switchgrass Stills (littlefishcartpress). Her work has been published in numerous magazines and journals including PRISM international, Event, Grain, sub-TERRAIN, Prairie Fire, Iowa City and the Malahat Review. McCartney has an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and a law degree from the University of Victoria. She works as a legal editor in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and is poetry editor for The Fiddlehead.

Sharon McCartney's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"In...Sharon McCartney's The Love Songs of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the reader can spot at once the stretch to go beyond the original. McCartney gives voice to both the animate and inanimate, to the human and not human, to the object. She defines a world from as many perspectives as she can muster."
--Andrew Vaisius, Prairie Fire


"What McCartney ultimately expresses, again and again in a careful, crafted and accomplished lyric voice, is a girl's fury at the gap between a storybook world and a real world's disappointments."
-Sonnet L'Abbé, The Globe and Mail

"...McCartney's poems have plenty of lyrical snap, and they're often as slyly nuanced as they are entertaining. As "Pa's Big Green Book" puts it, in one dramatic monologue, 'Do you think you know / what I'm about? Think again. There's / an edge to each sheet of paper.'"
--Barbara Carey, The Toronto Star

"...I'm convinced of McCartney's engagement in her material. Her use of detail bring a whole world to life, and in the best poems she shows a keen ability to give voice to, for example, the wind...
"Clearly, this is a writer with imagination and tenacious vision...there's enough her to leave us wondering what McCartney will do next."
--Sue Macleod, Atlantic Books Today

"This is an accomplished, beautiful book. I can see myself returning to it many times. It's a must-have for Little House fans, and for other readers a fascinating journey into historical silence finally given a voice."
--Diane Tucker,

"In Sharon McCartney's The Love Song of Laura Ingalls Wilder, poems take on not only the voices of characters from the Little House books, but also the voices of animals and inanimate objects (wolves, rifles, a desk, body parts). This is a highly accomplished and tightly focused collection."
-Maurice Mireau, Winnipeg Free Press

Librarian Reviews

The Love Song of Laura Ingalls Wilder

As McCartney points out in the book’s foreword, these poems are not an attempt to analyze the works of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Yet she admits that she still reads the Little House books and that the poems are a kind of response to the series. She says, “…the poems use the voices of the characters (human and non-human, animate and inanimate) from the books.” Thus, there are poems from the point of view of the dog, the cat, Pa’s rifle, even the wind. Consider this excerpt from “Churn”: buckets of fresh cream dumped down / my neck, set by the stove to keep warm. / Then the bump, bump, bump of the dash / agitating my thoughts.” These plain-spoken poems would serve as excellent exemplars for writings based on other texts, or for examining point of view. They will also appeal to those who are familiar with the series.

Caution: there are a few references to bodily functions.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2007-2008.

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