Said the River

Said the River

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Said the River

inspired by the life and writing of
Isabella Valancy Crawford (1850 -1887)
who emigrated to Canada from Ireland in 1857

Liz Zetlin

Drawings by Janis Hoogstraten

8 X 10 inches, 104 pages

Penumbra Press Poetry Series, No. 41

THE LIFE OF ISABELLA VALANCY CRAWFORD sparked this collaboration between poet and artist. Isabella Valancy Crawford was herself a writer (Old Spookses' Pass, Malcolm's Katie) whose work was published betweem 1870 and 1875. Crawford was born in Dublin but emigrated to the Peterborough area of Ontario, at a time when sixty percent of all Canadian immigrants were Irish. After the death of her father, Crawford lived in poverty, often resorting to using her poems and papers as kindling to heat her room. For the present book, Liz Zetlin suspected that Crawford, a Victorian spinster, had begun to develop a unique voice and had started to write truths that would be horrifying to her family. Zetlin conceived the idea of creating a series of "burnt poems" that Crawford might have written; they would have been tied with ribbons and kept under the bed.

A three-day trip on the Saugeen River, which Zetlin conjectures Crawford must have known, provides the backdrop for poet and artist to research facts and invent truths. While Said the River is based on the historical record of rivers, places, and persons living and dead, it is a work of the imagination.


Frequently sick

with headaches and chills
we drank vinegar
and laced our gowns
even tighter

easily diseased

science later taking over
the naming of our ills

an orex ic
ag or a pho bic

Imprisoned in our fathers'
houses, poems hidden
in kitchen cabinets,
our thoughts petrified
like flies in amber.


through layers
of absence.

Apologies 3


Liz Zetlin


Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Liz Zetlin has lived in Canada since 1969. She has previously published a limited, hand-printed edition of Said The River, and Connections, a tribute to the power and strength of eight women living in Grey County. She holds degrees in visual arts, art history, and modern languages and literature.

Janis Hoogstraten


Janis Hoogstraten has taught Foundation Studies, Drawing, Painting and Sculpture at University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus. She has participated in several group and solo exhibitions, including one at The Gallery, Scarborough College, where she and Liz Zetlin exhibited Said The River as it became shaped into its present genesis. She is active as a colloquium speaker and juror, and in addition to several private collections, her work is held by Maison de Radio-Canada, the Art Bank, and Owens Art Gallery.

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