Grandpa's Day Timers, As We Left They Sang, Plans to Prosper

I regard these found pieces from my elegy manuscript, Field of Light/Field of Stone, as a collaboration with my ancestors. In the case of the memoir ("As We Left They Sang") and interview ("Plans to Prosper"), I have set their prose to music, in a sense, by carefully selecting phrases and placing them next to one another. My grandparents' voices are very present in the work.

With the poems using memoir and interview, the objectives of author and subject match: to create something that will make our family history known. In the case of the day timers, by combining many private notes into one public piece, I am telling a story my grandpa didn't know he was writing. However, we are united in our urge to remember—as I transform his daily reminders into my reminiscences of him.

In Field of Light / Field of Stone, I want to preserve my grandparents' voices, but in my previously published collection Tell Them It Was Mozart, my goal was to dialogue with society's messages about autism. Therefore, in the found poetry in Tell Them It Was Mozart, my voice asserts itself over my sources. For example, in my erasure poems of Emily Perl Kingsley's beloved essay "Welcome to Holland," by choosing parts of words rather than whole phrases, my message and tone are distinct from Kingsley's. Because I chose to highlight my words within her text rather than excerpt them from it, our two voices remain in conversation.

Grandpa's Day Timers


Jan. 11 Faith for Today
Feb. 27 Seed Growers meeting

Mar. 20 "The more earnestly I live inwardly, the more simply I'll live without."


Mar. 13 "Prodigal Son"
Mar. 30 Bull sale

April 28 650 acres in and now snow

June 23 Serve in Justice
July 17 Pick up wallpaper
Aug. 9 Swath Heartland

Mar. 18 Canola Day in Souris
May 28 Ascension Day at Grace

Sept. 10 Cat scan
Sept. 21 Cabinet shuffle


Jan. 1 Turning colder

Jan. 18 Visit Pearl Harbor
Jan. 20 Put on the whole armour

Jan. 24 Plane trouble
Feb. 7 Blood pressure

June 27 How are you going to change anybody's mind if your mind is so set?


Jan. 3 Dr. Les DR. LES Dr. Les
Jan. 16 Bath evening, Souris Souris Souris
Jan. 18 heredity cerebral attackia

Jan. 23 Margaret back to Killarney, 1 more week
Feb. 28 I want remote control, remote onrl c


Source: "Grandpa's Day Timers" is a found poem of handwritten notes from the calendars of the poet's maternal grandfather Abram Froese. Abe was a farmer and unpaid, full-time Mennonite Brethren pastor in Manitoba, Canada, who died Oct. 20, 1997, following a difficult journey with Fragile X tremor/ataxia syndrome. The quotation on March 20 is by Ernest Hemingway.

As We Left They Sang


The day they took him
it was muddy.

Children, this time only prayer will help.

The body of our dear father
in the summer room. There was no heat.

The mouth that had so lovingly
sung with us, kissed us.

I went to the garden
until I couldn't cry anymore.

Mariechen, what you ever were to your father
you will never know.


October. Black troops stronger
than White chop off limb by limb.

November cannons. Cossacks
to disband the Black.

Christmas night, give
food and lodging for the Red.

We had traded with the Cossacks for some sugar,
but they took it all away.


No rain, our horses taken.
Forced to hitch our cow to the plough.

The second floor once used to store grain:
the remaining kernels.

Things hidden. Our wedding bands.

We lay down
so we wouldn't feel our hunger.

Potatoes the size of hazelnuts.


The Caragana trees around our house
in full bloom. After dinner, a light rain.

Our big dog Woljshanck and our little dog Damka
and everything dear to us stayed back.

As we left, they sang, Jesus, go before us.
Tears as our train took us away.

Source: "As We Left They Sang" is a found poem of lines in the unpublished memoir of the poet's great-grandmother Maria Janzen Friesen, translated from German into English by Maria's daughter Elsa Falk (the poet's paternal grandmother) and Elsa's daughter Viola Toews. Events described in the poem took place in Ukraine from 1910–1924.

Plans to Prosper

across the street in #6 lived a certain Johann

a farmer father helped with food and tools

Johann did nothing as long as father was alive

after father died he reported us to the authorities

they have ten overcoats: they are rich

we gave away what we could

in the middle of the night

prepared to leave everything

a horse-drawn sleigh to another station

a rented room in the former dachas of the wealthy


back in #6 Johann claimed some of our possessions

but he got travel fever

held a public auction

which attracted the attention of police

internal affairs pocketed the money

and sent Johann into exile

Source: "Plans to Prosper" is based on Peter Letkemann's notes from his July 16, 2001, interview with the poet’s paternal grandfather Bernhard David Falk in Niverville, Manitoba, Canada. Letkemann's research is published in A Book of Remembrance: Mennonites in Arkadak and Zentral, 1908-1941.

About the Author

Angeline Schellenberg’s first collection Tell Them It Was Mozart (Brick Books, 2016) won the Lansdowne Prize for Poetry, the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book, and the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer, and was a finalist for the 2017 ReLit Award for poetry. Her poetry placed second (2016) and third (2014) in Prairie Fire’s contest, and was shortlisted for Arc Poetry Magazine’s 2015 Poem of the Year. She also published a chapbook, Roads of Stone (Alfred Gustav Press, 2015). Angeline holds a masters in biblical studies from Providence College, Otterburne, Manitoba, and works as copy editor for the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches and MB Herald. A member of Crossroads MB Church, Angeline lives in Winnipeg (Treaty One Territory) with her husband, their two teenagers, and a German shepherd-corgi.