Carl Leggo: Gifts Given, Gifts Received

by Sandra Vander Shaaf

I have been witnessing a cascade of miracles over the last several weeks.  In truth, I suppose it’s the same miracle happening over and over again, just with different people.


I spent over five years of my life exploring and trying to put into words the miracle that happens in the space between two dancers as they share one song, one breath, together in the spirit of tango.  It’s a miracle that never grows old, one that inspires and sustains a yearning for more of the same.  What a delight to discover that this same kind of miracle can happen between a writer and a reader on the dance floor of the written word.


As a lifelong book lover, I am no stranger to the sweet communion that sometimes happens when I immerse myself in a good book.  It’s the only reason I go to book signing events—to tell the author how much I enjoyed the time we spent together.  The thing that’s strange to me is being on the other side of the relationship.  Over the last several weeks, at the urging of my publisher, I’ve been sending out review copies of my book with a view to getting comments to serve as back cover blurbs when the book comes out in September.  The comments I’ve been getting in response to the book are as dizzying as the most exquisite tangos I’ve experienced on the dance floor.  I feel simultaneously overjoyed and humbled, which is a pretty common reaction to a miracle.


In the coming days, I will be posting some of the advance reviews I’ve received for Passionate Embrace.  Yes, I’m hoping you’ll be enticed by the comments and eager to get your hands on your own copy of the book, but I also want you to understand that I’m posting these words to testify to the miracle that can happen in the space between two people, whether on the dance floor or between the pages of a book.  It is a beautiful thing when a gift is received as it was intended.

Here’s the first blurb:

leggoPassionate Embrace: Faith, Flesh, Tango is a profound song of love, a lyrical testimony to living with humanity, humility, and humour.  Vander Schaaf invites us to engage enthusiastically with mysterious questions about identity, desire, and faith, in the midst of memory, disenchantment, and fear.  Passionate Embrace pulses with the body’s rhythms as it encourages readers to dance with hopeful wisdom.

Carl Leggo poet and professor, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, author of View From My Mother’s House

Originally published on, August 2013.

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