Blue Portugal and Other Essays
Using the richness of braided essays, Theresa Kishkan thinks deeply about the natural world, mourns and celebrates the aging body, interrogates and gently contests recorded history, and explores art and visual phenomena. Gathering personal genealogies, medical histories, and early land surveys together with the liminal spaces of memory and insights from music, colour theory, horticulture, and textile production, Kishkan weaves patterns and dangles loose threads, welcoming readers to share her intellectual and emotional preoccupations. The rivers of the author’s home province echo the venous system of her body. The indigo powder she turns into dye shares a palette with entoptic phenomena. The title essay recalls a wine she first drank in her grandmother’s homeland; another dances with memories of mothering and the structure of Bach’s Partita No. 2 for solo violin. With an intimate awareness of place and time, a deep sensitivity to family, and a poetic delight in travel, local food and wine, and dogs, Blue Portugal and Other Essays offers up a sense of wonder at the interconnectedness of all things, revealing Kishkan as a virtuoso of her craft.
"...Kishkan’s writing is lyrical and free-ranging, a true pleasure to read.... In Blue Portugal the essays’ themes are allowed to slip their boundaries; a topic addressed in one essay recurs in later essays, a recognition, perhaps, that thoughts and interests develop over time, shifting slightly as they are put in the company of other thoughts, are seen from different perspectives. The essays in Blue Portugal seem to talk to each other; they interlace in interesting and thought-provoking ways. The book is a fine example of the personal essay at its best." Michael Hayward, The British Columbia Review, August 2, 2022 [Full review at https://thebcreview.ca/2022/08/02/1533-hayward-kishkan]
“Rivers meander but with purpose. So too do the ten loosely connected pieces that make up Theresa Kishkan’s Blue Portugal and Other Essays…. These elegantly braided essays reveal a lifetime of curiosity and contemplation in ways that invite the reader to come along…. Blue Portugal and Other Essays is part of the University of Alberta Press’s literary travel series, Wayfarer—and a poetic journey very much worth booking.” Literary Review of Canada, September 2022
"Much pleasure awaits the reader of Blue Portugal, Theresa Kishkan's collection of ten essays that sing individually and re-engage with each other throughout the volume. It is not simply a matter of rebounding colours among 'The Blue Etymologies,' 'Blue Portugal,' and 'Blueprints,' nor the recurrence of journeys dark and light; rather, Kishkan's poetic phrasing and rhythms thread these braided essays with originality of perception, reflection, and a lyric sensibility." Michael Greenstein, Miramichi Reader, September 3, 2022 [Full review at https://miramichireader.ca/2022/09/blue-portugal-by-theresa-kishkan/]
"To those of us who’ve been following Theresa Kishkan on her blog for many years, the preoccupations of her latest book, the collection Blue Portugal & Other Essays, will be familiar, the quilts, the homesteads, the memories, the blue. But it’s the stunning craftsmanship of the book, the fascinating threads that weave the pieces together and also recur throughout the text, that make this book such a pleasure to discover. " Kerry Clare, Pickle Me This, September 9, 2022
"...[with openness,] Theresa Kishkan, a poet-cum-essayist, tackles the many subjects that make up her new collection: rivers she has known and loved, age-old methods of dyeing textiles, medical problems, the inspiration to be found in Dante, the joy of antique buttons.... Our enjoyment of essays, I believe, depends very much on our sense of the person behind the pen, and Kishkan’s sensibility is an appealing one." Merna Summers, Alberta Views, December 1, 2022 [Full review at https://albertaviews.ca/blue-portugal-essays]
"Kishkan is a prolific, perceptive and gifted writer. Never forgetting her poetic roots, her mind works metaphorically—linking disparate but connectable things in revealing ways…. Blue Portugal and Other Essays is a book to be savoured…” Gene Walz, Winnipeg Free Press, August 13, 2022 [Full review at https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/entertainment/books/2022/08/13/lyrical-essays-bring-musings-on-family-travel-and-more]