Belonging to me.

by kthomson11

Mine by Stephen Collis, is a rather confusing short story. The summary on the back of the book states, ‘it is a book-length poem that takes you back in time to reconstruct the history of coal on Vancouver Island’. Although the summary says that it is a ‘book-length poem’, it is actually a series of small poems put together. All of the poems revolve around the common theme of coal mining, however they all discuss different concepts associated with that theme. The poems alternate in structure, from free verse, prose passages and even into sections of different songs, which collectively adds more confusion. The poems follow no pattern in structure or topic which makes it extremely hard to follow along from poem to poem. Although the poems do not follow any structured order, they still join together to make a strong and vivid picture of the untold story of the miners. The way that the poems are brought together keeps you interested and captivated to hear more.


Each poem throughout Mine focuses on different aspects of coal mining and the lives of the different people that were involved. It is set during time period from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s. Stephen Collis focuses some of the poems on the famous or significant people during that period, one specifically was Ginger Goodwin. The poem titled ‘Ginger’, for me took some extra background research to understand what Collis was referring too. This poem dives into certain descriptive details which at the time I did not understand, however later came to realize were descriptions of a man. “Blacklisted.. did he travel with him to Trail on their Tah-ye-ta-bits.. did one of the mine hear the gunshot.. that took him down in the… Cumberland woods.. down in time’s own abandoned mine?” (77). What did this really mean?


Although most of the descriptions in the poems of Mine, use language that involves higher intellectual power and many sought out hours of rereading, when it comes down to it they hold a lot of information. The untold stories of the coal miners are definitely expressed in great detail, giving readers the ability to experience what they went through.





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