Saskatchewan Born Award Winning Poet
By Belinda Betker
In Phases, Belinda Betker deftly captures what it is like for those who don’t fit within rigid notions of what it means to be a “boy” or a “girl”. Capturing different phases in a life, with power and nuance she takes readers on a luminous journey of a young girl’s coming-of-age, her burgeoning sexuality (and the confusion and disorientation therein), the pitfalls of an unhappy marriage, the triumphant release of coming out, and the liberating power of drag.
In these poems, readers will find a celestial and transcendent re-discovering of the self, an unraveling of society’s expectations of gender roles, love, and desire and how these falsehoods threaten to eclipse our truth. Phases slides through time, summoning profound memories of the loss of childhood innocence through each gendered ritual, yet the resilient heart of a tomboy who stands up to bullies and can “tie a tie better than anyone” is too powerful to suppress. Betker then takes us into adulthood-an experience cut sharp by the “dark side of the moon” with a health crisis and surgery-and the victorious recovery and unearthing of buried desire and resplendent sensuality. Phases is mercurial and unpredictable, a celebration of the non-conformist in each of us.
Praise & Reviews
“Belinda Betker’s first collection of poetry, Phases, is a captivating tribute to the lunar and life cycles. Fierce and richly erotic, with acuity and candour her poems shine a bright light onto an intimate world and burst with power and play. Both lovingly tender and don’t-mess-with-me tough, Betker’s is an empowering voice.”
– Sandra Ridley, Griffin Prize finalist for Silvija
“‘Walk loose,’ writes Belinda Betker in this riveting collection, ‘take up space like you own it.’ And oh, how she does. These bold, tender, cocky, shy, hilarious, heart-breaking poems enter a room like they own the house. Phases is a must-read and so you must. This is a beautifully nuanced voice that dares, teases, and challenges all notions of gender. I can think of few poets who do so with such generosity.”
– Katherine Lawrence, award-winning poet and author
“An honest look at the fluidity of the self, Phases pushes back against normative expectations of gender and sexuality in a series of poems that’s both deft and defiant. Belinda Betker, also known as Dyke van Dick, is an uncompromising cultural observer, the perfect guide to warn readers against past mistakes and renew their faith in the future. The poems in Phases are bonafide manifestos, and a must-read for those interested in how to live well in the 21st century.”
– Judges, SK Arts Poetry Award Honouring Anne Szumigalski, 2020 Saskatchewan Book Awards (Finalist)
“These poems are at once tender and shy, cocksure and sassy, like the many faces that appear here in all their phases: childhood, young womanhood, motherhood – not to mention middle-age drag kinghood! In these pages, to be a woman manfully is just another way to be, and beauty is in the eye of the beheld.”
– Elizabeth Philips, award-winning author of Torch River and The Afterlife of Birds.
About Belinda Betker
Belinda Betker (aka Dyke Van Dick) is a prairie-born poet living in Saskatoon with her Australian wife and their rescue dog, a springer-spaniel/terrier cross. The first edition of her poetry collection Phases was a 2020 finalist for two Saskatchewan Book Awards. Belinda's poetry and award-winning haiku are also published on-line and in various anthologies, literary journals, and chapbooks. Belinda is a founding member of two long-running Saskatoon writing groups, Sisters' Ink and The Obsessors. She was also a founding and long-time board member of the Saskatoon Writers' Collective.