Bluger, Marianne Sasha 1945-
BLUGER, Marianne Sasha 1945-
PERSONAL: Born August 28, 1945, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; daughter of Walter Vladimir and Ruth Anna (Mallory) Bluger; married Samu Kim, 1968 (divorced, 1986); married Larry Earle Neily, 1991; children: (first marriage) Maji Raphael, Agi Micheline. Education: McGill University, B.A., 1967. Politics: Conservative. Religion: Anglican. Hobbies and other interests: Natural history, bird watching, gardening, Cambodian relief work, playing darts.
ADDRESSES: Home—124 Clarendon Ave., Ottawa, Ontario K1Y 0R3, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer. Canadian Writers' Federation, executive secretary, 1975–. Tabitha Foundation for Third World Relief, founding director, 1995.
AWARDS, HONORS: Travel scholar, West German government, 1965; Archibald Lampman Award, 1993, for Summer Grass; Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council grants.
The Thumbless Man, Three Trees Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1981.
On Nights like This, Brick Books (London, Ontario, Canada), 1984.
Gathering Wild, Brick Books (London, Ontario, Canada), 1988.
Summer Grass, Brick Books (London, Ontario, Canada), 1992.
Tamarack and Clearcut, photographs by Rudi Haas, Carleton University Press (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), 1996.
Gusts: Selected Tanka, Penumbra Press (Manotick, Ontario, Canada), 1998.
Scissor, Paper, Woman, Penumbra Press (Manotick, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
Early Evening Pieces, Buschek Books (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), 2003.
The Eternities, St. Thomas Poetry Series (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2005.
Zen Mercies/Small Satoris, Penumbra Press (Manotick, Ontario, Canada), 2005.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Nude with Scar.
SIDELIGHTS: Poet Marianne Sasha Bluger's work has been compared to that of Emily Dickinson. In Canadian Literature, critic Robert Attridge pointed out the intensely personal and spiritual qualities of Bluger's verse, as well as its technical similarity—short lines, use of dashes, and internal rhymes—that are reminiscent of Dickinson's poetry. Attridge further noted, however, that unlike the reclusive Belle of Amherst, Bluger appears to be fully in touch with the outside world and unfazed by modern urban life. Reviewing Bluger's third collection, Gathering Wild, Attridge commented that one of the book's central concerns is the relationship between wilderness and the city. Attridge observed that the poet often employs traditional Christian symbolism and imagery to express her spiritual concerns, but also relates spirituality to sexuality, nature, and art.
Much critical response to Bluger's work has been positive. Judith Fitzgerald wrote of her early work in the Toronto Star that "Whether she examines natural phenomena or illuminates human nature, it is abundantly clear that a powerful sensibility is at work in these poems." Clint Burnham, however, offered an opposing view when he reviewed Summer Grass in Books in Canada. Describing Bluger's poems as "polite," "dandyish," and "lame," he observed that they "offer hermetic statements that refuse any role to the reader."
In Tamarack and Clearcut, Bluger shifts focus from western poetic forms to the haiku. The book, a collaboration with photographer Rudi Haas, juxtaposes photographic images of the city of Ottawa with corresponding haiku in such a way that connections between the urban and the natural world emerge. George Johnston, in Books in Canada, praised the result, finding in Bluger's haiku both intense sensitivity and a variety of moods.
Early Evening Pieces is another collection of more than 200 haiku, some old, some new, that reflect Bluger's preoccupation with the natural world and the connections between nature and man. In the Danforth Review Online, Jennifer Dales observed: "These Haiku combine Bluger's lyrical gifts of strong, musical language and unique, personal insight with a concentrated an disciplined form." In this collection the pictures emerge, not from photographs, but from the poems themselves. Despite the lack of art work, Cherie Hunter Day wrote in Modern Haiku, Early Evening Pieces "is a lovely book to look at," one in which "high production values set the stage" for poems "written with a deft and delicate hand."
Bluger once told CA: "My main artistic obsession has been the simple lyric. Even the recent work with haiku and tanka to record moments of intense perception through the use of powerful imagery has been by way of experimentation with the lyric. Scissor, Paper, Woman is a collection of longer poems more overtly biographical than the earlier books."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Books in Canada, summer, 1993, Clint Burnham, review of Summer Grass, p. 60; March, 1998, George Johnston, review of Tamarack and Clearcut, pp. 34-35.
Brick: Journal of Reviews, winter, 1985, George Johnston, review of On Nights like This, p. 44.
Canadian Literature, summer, 1985, Bruce Pirie, review of On Nights like This, pp. 181-183; spring-summer, 1990, Robert Attridge, review of Gathering Wild, pp. 335-336.
Canadian Women Studies, winter, 1995, Margaret Avison, review of On Nights like This, pp. 123-124.
Crosstalk, December, 1997, Susan Becker Davidson, review of Tamarack and Clearcut.
(muse)Letters, spring, 1996, "Questions Answered."
Lynx, February, 1998, Jane Reichhold, review of Tamarack and Clearcut; June, 1999, Jane Reichhold, review of Gusts: Selected Tanka; June, 2004, Jane Reichhold, review of Early Evening Pieces.
McGill News, fall, 2003, Sarah Pringle, review of Early Evening Pieces.
Modern Haiku, summer, 1998, Lee Gurga, review of Tamarack and Clearcut, p. 72; summer, 2004, Cherie Hunter Day, review of Early Evening Pieces.
Ottawa Citizen, February, 1990, Don W. Thomson, review of Gathering Wild, p. J7; January 30, 1993, Patricia Whitney, review of Summer Grass, p. B7.
Prairie Fire Review of Books, fall, 2003, Graeme Voyer, review of Early Evening Pieces.
Raw Nervz Haiku, September, 1998, Rod Wilmot, review of Tamarack and Clearcut.
Rubicon 5, summer, 1985, Douglas Collin, review of On Nights like This, pp. 185-186.
Toronto Star, September, 1984, Judith Fitzgerald, review of On Nights like This, p. M5; August 1, 1998, Judith Fitzgerald, review of Tamarack and Clearcut, p. K15.
Danforth Review Online, http://www.danforthreview.com/ (October 11, 2005), Jennifer Dales, review of Early Evening Pieces.