Tell Them It Was Mozart


My first book came out September 1, 2016. Tell Them It Was Mozart is available through my publisher Brick Books and local or online bookstores including in both print and eBook format, or directly from me. In April 2017, it won three Manitoba Book Awards.

Juries’ comments for the Lansdowne Prize for Poetry

Angeline Schellenberg’s debut collection of poems is defiant. She delicately and imaginatively manages to present a whole singular story of a mother raising two children at varying degrees on the autism spectrum. From titles to page turns and character counts to spaces in-between words, Tell Them It Was Mozart is so much more than poetry. This collection transcends its genre and Angeline is truly a talented writer.

Juries’ comments for the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer

Angeline Schellenberg has written a book filled with love, frustration, humour, echolalia, and a strong sense of form. It is also the record of learning to parent an autistic child. “Mozart knocks autism on its ear,” writes Schellenberg, and in these pages he does.

Juries’ comments for the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for best first book

This is a story of autism told through poetry, prose, elegant words, and unflinching realities. Schellenberg doesn’t sugar-coat the struggles of raising two children on the autism spectrum, but she tells this story with such deftness that you see the humour, the lightness and, ultimately, the love. What makes this book so wonderful is the unconventional storytelling method that draws the reader in while slowly unfolding the tale. Incredible first book.

award night

Manitoba Book Awards, April 22, 2017

Back Cover Copy

Linked poems that uncover the ache and whimsy of raising children on the autism spectrum.

Through public judgments, detouring dreams and unspoken prayers, Tell Them It Was Mozart, Angeline Schellenberg’s debut collection, traces both a slow bonding and the emergence of a defiant humour. This is a book that keens and cherishes, a work full of the earthiness and transcendence of mother-love. One of the pleasures of this collection is its playful range of forms: there are erasure poems, prose poems, lists, found poems, laments, odes, monologues and dialogues in the voices of the children, even an oulipo that deconstructs the DSM definition of autism. From a newborn “glossed and quivering” to a child conquering the fear of strange toilets, Tell Them It Was Mozart is bracing in its honesty, healing in its jubilance.

Michelangelo slept in his clothes and seldom ate        Newton lectured to empty rooms at scheduled times if no one showed up to hear him … Only staying where room numbers were divisible by three, Tesla tested turbines in his mind, would not touch round objects … Charles Darwin formulated the theory of natural selection, the foundation for our understanding of the diversity of life on earth: advantageous traits survive      Mozart meowed on tables —from “Posthumously diagnosed”

Praise for Tell Them It Was Mozart:

“By turns, Angeline Schellenberg’s words are blunt, musical, unflinching, transcendent. Her speaker raises two children on the autism spectrum, but she is never a martyr, never a victim, never a saint. Schellenberg has drawn a woman who turns the experience inside out—finding its humour, its turbulence, and ultimately, its joy.” —Kimmy Beach

Tell Them it Was Mozart is a provocative collection of culturally rich, alluring poetry that bravely reveals the flakey, frightening, forlorn, funny, fantastic gusts of life with autism. What a splendid read it is.” —Liane Holliday Willey, author of Pretending to be Normal: Living With Asperger’s Syndrome