Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Writing his 2014 biography, Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing into Thunderbird, Ruffo immersed himself in the varied experiences of the renowned Ojibway artist, who died in 2007. This collection, in which Ruffo poetically explores and reflects on some of Morrisseau's most striking artworks and his life story, is more than just a great complement to his primary study: it is an imaginative, authentic interaction with the artist's culture, context, and art. The tensions that ripple through Morrisseau's work, such as his conflicted religious beliefs and the troubled relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people are sublimated in Ruffo's poems. "Indian Jesus Christ, 1974" and "White Man's Curse, 1969" isolate the trauma of abuse that Morriseau suffered in an Indian residential school, which shaped both him and his art. "Man Changing into Thunderbird (Transmigration), 1977" and "Astral Thunderbird, 1978" reflect his expressive and shamanistic growth, while poems such as "Androgyny, 1983" and "Untitled (Thunderbird and Canoe in Flight, Norval on Scooter), c. 1990s" explore the ecstatic and transcendent. Morrisseau saw himself as a vehicle of Anishinaabe tradition, but he was also a mythmaker in his own right. With these poems, Ruffo steps into the mythopoetic and takes readers with him. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.