In 1653, Marguerite Bourgeoys arrived in New France, determined to bring faith to the developing Ville-Marie community and education to the young women of the colony (now Montreal). Carolyne Van Der Meer delves into the heart and mind of Marguerite Bourgeoys and, through poetry, explores the hopes and challenges she faced as she established the Congrégation de Notre-Dame. These poems, originally written in English, have been translated by the author into Bourgeoys' native French, thus bringing to life the aspirations of this extraordinary woman who changed history.
I found myself deeply moved by this collection: won over by Van Der Meer’s clean, crisp, contemporary sentences that sing with empathy and paint a powerful picture of a historical figure who possessed a seemingly unbending devotion to the betterment of women. I set skepticism aside—a leap of faith, if you will—and emerged on the other end of Heart of Goodness feeling remarkably…healed.- Ottawa Review of Books
Carolyne Van Der Meer’s achievement in these poems is to capture the essence of this remarkable seventeenth-century woman, humble but fiercely determined. She allows us a glimpse into Marguerite Bourgeoys’ soul, to appreciate her deep spirituality and her practicality in 30 intricately-crafted poems which, pared-down and polished, shine like their subject with sincerity, originality and fidelity to essential truths.- Michael Farry, author of Asking for Directions, The Age of Glass and Troubles
Carolyne Van Der Meer has written a fine book that exhibits sharp insights into the life of Marguerite Bourgeoys. The craft is evocative, rich with images and employs a spot on pace and tone. Readers will be enthralled by this portrait of sacrifice, faith, strength and love.- Michael Carrino, author of By Available Light, New and Selected Poems, Some Rescues and Café Sonata
Poetry transcends the limits of language. Sometimes it is explosive in the spaces between words, sometimes moving, sometimes contemplative. Heart of Goodness by Carolyne Van Der Meer is all three. The explanatory subtitle, The Life of Marguerite Bourgeoys in 30 Poems (1620 -1700), defines the poet's context but by no means limits the content. With an austere economy of language and in the spaces around her words on the page, she conveys the essence of an astonishing life. This is not a devotional or visionary poem (the separate poems are really stanzas in a singular work). It is a compassionate revelation, a poem exploring the psyche a woman whose devotion and vision inspired her to great works on behalf of other women. As a committed atheist, I found it a heartfelt joy to read. Face to face translations, French and English, create inspired echoes bound to resound. Long after the book is set down, the title character remains with us.- John Moss
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