by Cassy Welburn
Frontenac House, 2015
In Changelings, Cassy Welburn presents poems of everyday transformation, rooted in fairy tales, myths, rituals, and ceremonies and shot through with the banal and unremarkable. Boundaries are consistently blurred — dreaming and waking, the natural and the supernatural — rendering images mutable, elusive. Some of the titles appear familiar (e.g., “The Tell Tale Heart”, “The Thousand Nights and One Night”), but the poems re-present or embellish what we think we know about these texts, creating palimpsests of stories and retellings that are deeply personal and specific. The poems’ many grotesque images are counterpoised against natural and beguiling settings, and produce an eerie atmosphere of creatures on the verge of change.
Changelings is a powerful collection for readers 14 and up. With this age group, the book is likely best used as an independent reading assignment or as individual poems. This volume should also provide an emotionally moving text for teachers and librarians, for whom some of the poems may prove acutely identifiable. Reading it, I was spellbound.
This review was originally published in Resource Links, February 2016.