Musical theatre meets poetry in Burning Daylight, a poetry collection, and song cycle drawing together the Yukon Gold Rush of the early 20th century and the Arctic iron ore mining mega-projects of the modern day. Through a feminist lens, it examines dislocation, isolation, family, and frailty, reflected in our relationship with the ever-changing northern landscape.
For years now Christine Fellows has been breaking my heart with darkness and sewing it back up with light. Her lyrics have long rewarded close listening; it was only a matter of time before her poetic intelligence found its way to the page. If that wasn’t enough, we have Alicia Smith’s haunting artworks, an inspired accompaniment to the text. Simply put, Burning Daylight is a marvel. Read, look and listen, people. Then read again.
Beginning with a quote from Jack London, Christine Fellows sets the tone: this will be an exploration of the Canadian North, of “the infinite peace of a brooding land.” Burning Daylight, the singer-songwriter’s first poetry collection, flows from city highways to the Northwest Passage, collecting history (the Klondike Gold Rush and DEW Line both make an appearance) as it goes. At once handsome and dangerous, Fellows’ landscapes invade the senses–they demand attention. Determined birds outside windows and fearful cancers growing in bodies blur the boundaries of nature. The book is accompanied by a full-length album of the same name, full of stripped-down piano and vocals reminiscent of a Northern Cat Power. In this light, it’s easy to treat Burning Daylight as a multimedia project, and this is reflected in the collection’s careful design. This book is a confection, all pale greens and pinks and delicate collages by Alicia Smith. Despite the wintry harshness, Fellows has crafted something subtly beautiful.