Jane Byers (Nelson, BC)
“Many years ago in Toronto, I had the pleasure of seeing Ann-Marie MacDonald and her mother on stage at Five Feminist Minutes. Her mother read tea leaves and Ms. MacDonald provided comic relief. Somewhere in the thick middle of Adult Onset, the lesbian protagonist, Mary Rose, takes her mother to Five Feminist Minutes shortly after her mother has embraced the protagonist’s relationship with the new girlfriend. It was a glimpse into the author’s admission, when I recently saw her interviewed, about how much autobiographical material has been mined in the writing of this novel. Much of this book felt like the author had used my own life experience. I was particularly affected by the question that Mary Rose struggles with from page one — what to do with all the rejection and homophobia that her parents had flung at her before they finally came around to accept their daughter’s ‘lifestyle.’ So many of us are left with how to live on after the disappointment and pain from loved ones is hurled our way during and after coming out — or, for that matter, while growing up. Another resonant queer theme emerges from the pages: reconciling a life in the mainstream after living for so long in the fringes. Interestingly, this work of art seems to be imitating life: with a top spot on the Globe and Mail’s bestseller list, Ann-Marie MacDonald’s latest work has seemingly shattered R.M. Vaughn’s so called ‘Lavender Ceiling.'”
Jane Byers’ first poetry collection, Steeling Effects, was published by Caitlin Press (2014). Her work has appeared in Grain, Descant, The Antigonish Review, Plenitude, Poetry in Transit, and Best Canadian Poetry 2014. She has essays published in Somebody’s Child: Stories About Adoption and Out Proud: Stories of Pride, Courage and Social Justice.