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Pattern of Genes

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5.5 x 8.5 inches


Pattern of Genes examines a life well lived, full of humour and character, but filled also with inescapable losses. These are intensely intimate poems that take us from the poet’s childhood in Winnipeg in the Second World War through her experiences as a Wren in the Royal Canadian Navy and as a traveller. There is a spirit of adventure and romance in her work, a vivid sense of time and place, but there is also a pervading elegiac tone as she copes with bereavement and loneliness.


The virtue and reward of the poems is not in the innovative use of form or novel content, but in the dexterous imagistic strokes, the economy of means. Van Stelten knows how to turn a line and how to use the sonic glue of assonance, alliteration, sibilance, slant and full rhyme … to rein in the syllables or loosen the lope of phrase and image as they uncoil down her page.

~Richard Stevenson, The Danforth Review

Van Stelten’s verse is both visually driven, concentrating on the observable, and possessed of a solid aural foundation… The better poems in this collection combine these two virtues to paint exquisite miniatures.

~Alexander Rettie, Alberta Views

Stalwart soul with a twist of romance, Rosalee van Stelten weaves spells with her words. Each poem in Pattern of Genes offers a mirror for emotional reflection and invites contact with the poet as well as with one’s self. Whether she is writing about family, places she has lived and visited, or wrenching personal loss, the poet’s direct language and imagery reach deep. Her humor and wisdom salve tears that the poems invite.

~Nina Krebs, author of Edgewalkers and Changing Woman Changing Work

About the Author

Rosalee van Stelten, CD, QGJM served in the Royal Canadian Navy (Wrens) during the Cold War. Her working life has taken her from Quonset hut, to palace, to cattle ranch, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. She is the only royal yachtswoman in HMY Britannia’s history. Born in Thunder Bay, raised in Winnipeg, and a Calgarian for many years, she now lives in Victoria, BC. A widely published free-lance writer, she has authored three books of poetry. She was awarded The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.

WREN: memories of navy days/from royal yacht to quonset hut, a work in prose and verse released by Van Stelten in May, is available through It recalls her Cold War experiences and special duty in Buckingham Palace and on the Royal Yacht. A former petty officer in the Royal Canadian Navy, Rosalee is the only female Yottie in HMY Britannia’s history. Royalties are donated to the Military Family Resource Centre in Victoria, BC.

Awards/Award Nominations

  • Finalist, Canada’s Cowboy Festival, Calgary, national poetry contest
  • Gold watch award, Calgary Herald Christmas story contest
  • Alberta Senior’s Games, Culture Division, bronze medal for poetry.

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