Former Winnipegger Nathan Dueck finally follows his outstanding 2004 debut, king’s(mère), with he’ll, which explores a fragmentary narrative set in Rat River while playing with Plaut’dietsch.
Dueck explores the sonic qualities of this obscure dialect in a mediation on Mennonites that drags religion, region, and reading across a landscape of lines.
Dueck’s density is as remarkable as his range. Whether plundering the canon for the lines in classic novels that might employ a contraction if written today, transposing songs for musical translations, or simply joking (“‘You haven’t had a night’ / ‘… ’til you’ve had a Mennonite’”), Dueck pushes his language play to the furthest possible extremes.
At the heart of the collections is the apostrophe, both as a punctuation mark and in its literary sense (as an address to an absent abstraction). That’s less alliteration than Dueck would have managed — it’s been a long wait, but he’ll is worth it.