Our Familiar Hunger
Winner of the Dorothy Livesay Award, the BC Book Prize for Poetry
In Our Familiar Hunger, Laisha Rosnau tests and confirms the will, struggle and fortitude of generations of women and confronts how their knowledges interact, inform, burden and transform as they are passed down.
Our Familiar Hunger was influenced by Rosnau's maternal grandparents, who immigrated to Canada from Ukraine, and explores the lives of Eastern European women, both contemporary and historical. Poems move from the Russian Revolution into holodomor, the massive state-imposed famine in Ukraine, to early twentieth century immigration to Canada and the subsequent interment into prisoner camps across Canada during the First World War.
The collection shifts into twenty-first century migration, the international sex trade, and internet-arranged marriage as a way to into "the West". Set against backdrops of historical and contemporary conflict zones, farmers' fields ravaged by the greed of government officials, and oil fields pumping crude resources out of northern Canada, the women each respond to different types of hunger - literal hunger for food and sustenance, sexual hunger and desire, hunger for love, respect, equality, acceptance, and peace.
Rallying memories of a reclaimed history with the fractured reality of trickle-down inheritance, Rosnau explores sexuality and inequality against the backdrops of historical and contemporary conflict zones, global waves of immigration and expressions of greed and hunger.
The profound, the political and the personal are ablaze as Rosnau reveals the myriad ways epigenetic grief interferes or interprets our best attempts, igniting her most powerful collection of poetry to date.
REVIEWS + PRAISE
“The wild power and fierce birthing are so strong in these poems that the reader begins to see where these risks and hunger and silences have gone: into creating a sometimes subterranean, crazy wilfulness that we are all grateful for now because we know it is part of a present that exists because of such boldness.”
“These are poems that move through, that disturb and upend you, as though the actual wildness of the wind has passed you.”
“And how clean can we come in reconciling this history? What is clean? Rosnau’s narrative is sewn tightly into these verses with the perspective of a novelist joined with the skill of an experienced poet.
Like a wound that is worked while it heals, Our Familiar Hunger deepens with each reading. I could not shake the domination she evokes in these circles, repetitions, and collectives. The elements of prairie winter are cruel, yet these poems point out the cruelest force may be the one inside us.”