In their debut poetry collection, Kama La Mackerel mythologizes a queer/trans narrative of and for their home island, Mauritius. Composed of expansive lyric poems, ZOM-FAM (meaning “man-woman” or “transgender” in Mauritian Kreol) is a voyage into the coming of age of a gender-creative child growing up in the 80s and 90s on the plantation island, as they seek vocabularies for loving and honouring their queer/trans self amidst the legacy of colonial silences. Multiply voiced and imbued with complex storytelling, ZOM-FAM showcases a fluid narrative that summons ancestral voices, femme tongues, broken colonial languages, and a tender queer subjectivity, all of which grapple with the legacy of plantation servitude. Emerging from a creative process in spoken word and live performance, these poems transform the page into a stage where the queer femme body is written and mapped onto the colonial space of the home/island. Interwoven with Kreol, ZOM-FAM showcases a unique lyrical sensibility, a musicality influenced by the both unforgiving and soothing rhythms of the ocean, where the poet enunciates the complexity of their displaced Indo-African roots, “the lineage of silence / that we weave in-between our intimacies.” Striking, vivid, tender, intimate, and political, ZOM-FAM is a beautifully wrought journey that articulates a contemporary decolonial poetics and offers a roadmap for colonized and displaced queer and trans voices to (re)imagine themselves into being.
- Author:La Mackerel, KamaSummary:
YYC POP is the legacy project by Calgary Poet Laureate, Sheri-D Wilson. A collection of poetry written by current and ex-pat Calgarians, the works contained in the collection celebrate ordinary and extraordinary Calgarians. She asked the community to write about someone who represents or captures the essence of Calgary as we are today.
- Author:Hartsfield, CarlaSummary:
Longlisted for the 2004 ReLit Awards
Carla Hartsfield sings praises to the unusual: a rose blooming in December; an angel dancing on a cardiologist’s scanner; Glenn Gould playing Brahms at Angelo’s Garage. But these are common occurrences in Your Last Day on Earth, the everyday world and the metaphysical realm sharing the same ecstatic poem. Hartsfield transforms the contents of her psyche into music that we can all hear, the kind that replays for days in the dark, dreamy parts of our selves.
She was here inside the purple-eyed daisies
and honeysuckle lining the fence —
arriving seconds after visiting the moon,
her starched, white dress
cascading from frothy clouds —
but even more white like the light
that is said to emanate from reverence.
“Carla Hartsfield is, like a figure in one of these vivid poems, ‘a charming pyromaniac.’ Under her magnifying glass, the world bristles into smoke: the ‘starched hexagons’ of Queen Anne’s Lace ‘quiver with cocaine bloom’ and water drops become ‘diamonds’ on the speaker’s skin when she plays Bach naked after a shower. Sometimes these fires liberate, sometimes they celebrate, sometimes they memorialize, and always they transform.” – Stephanie Bolster
- Author:Fitch, ShereeSummary:
You won't always be this sad, her mother, who also lost a son, reassures her, while a close friend encourages her to pick up the pen and write it all down. Capturing her own struggles as she emerges from shock in the wake of her son's unexpected death at age thirty-seven, author and storyteller Sheree Fitch writes unabashedly, with deep sorrow, unexpected rage, and boundless love. She discovers that she 'dwells in a thin place now,' that she has crossed a threshold only to find herself in 'the quicksand that is grief.' The result is a memoir of immense power and pain, a collection of moments, and a journey of resilience that lyrically combines prose and verse. Readers, bearing witness to the immeasurable depths of a mother's love, will be forever changed.
- Author:Woodcock, PatrickSummary:
A poetry that is at once harrowing, angry, and achingly beautiful
Patrick Woodcock has spent the past seven years engaging with and being shaped by the people, politics, and landscapes of the Kurdish north of Iraq, Fort Good Hope in the Northwest Territories, and Azerbaijan. His powerful new collection offers a poetry that simultaneously explores hope and horror while documenting the transformative processes of coping. You can’t bury them all follows the narratives we construct to survive the tragic failures of our humanity to their very end: everything that’s buried by snow, dirt, and ash, just like everything that’s buried by politics, homophobia, sexism, racism, religion; and history is resurrected, demanding to be heard and addressed.
In Woodcock’s poetry, how we deal with what resurfaces is the key. What do those who suffer really mean to those who have abandoned them to small, conscience-soothing charitable donations or the occasional tweet? How can the poet, or anyone else, sleep at night knowing homosexuals are being thrown off building tops, after one steps into a hole and finds an abandoned corpse in an Azeri cemetery, or after the elders of an Aboriginal community are left helpless against those who only want to exploit them? Still, You can’t bury them all demonstrates that the world is not just the horrific place the media often portrays. In each of the worlds he touches, Woodcock discovers a spirit and strength to celebrate.
- Author:Sumac, SmokiiSummary:
A curated selection from hundreds of poems written over two years of a near-daily haiku practice. Sections of selected poems such as 'recovery,' 'courting,' and 'ceremony,' tell a story of what 2016-2018 was like in the life of a two-spirit, transmasculine, Ktunaxa PhD Candidate in their late 20s, living in Peterborough Ontario.
- Author:Gillis, SusanSummary:
Inviting, human, capacious poems that grapple with ideas while also lightly grieving our capacity for ruin.
- Author:Gillis, SusanSummary:
Inviting, human, capacious poems that grapple with ideas while also lightly grieving our capacity for ruin.
- Author:Henderson, BrianSummary:
Year Zero is the time of hushed beginnings and endings, the place of naming and unnaming, where language, strange to itself, tiptoes along songlines as though following passages of Koto music. In Brian Henderson’s poetry, poised and listening on this hinge of creativity, ontological wonder is informed by awareness of the paradoxes at the heart of language, that language wants you for itself, and that what is named, falls. Whether focusing on the dying of a parent or fellow poet, or on the coming-to-be of a child, this poetry is alive with the truth that “The dead burn through us/ the not yet born.”
“What a wonderful book this is! Henderson tells the old story how dear ones die, and new lives come to be. In a world that’s dense, opaque, yet lit with random hints of something being uttered. The result is a marvel of passionate, glancing eloquence. I wanted it never to end.” –Dennis Lee
- Author:Berry, JulieSummary:
Reading Julie Berry’s poetry means entering a new poetic space, crossing thresholds of pain and delight at once raw and refined. “like marie d’oignies who buried bloody/ mouthfuls of herself/ in the garden/ i need my poems to be like this,” Berry writes in “Touching Ground.” “Like this” is finely-turned and constantly surprising, haunting as plainsong, throaty as the blues. Her images are so completely unexpected and yet so thoroughly right that you are left wondering why you never imagined “the minute hand [falling] into the refrigerator and breakfast/ . . . clattering across the lawn/ its spoons and bowls and burning toast.” Her eye is keen and quirky; its wide embrace enfolds the highways and cemeteries of southwestern Ontario, flying pianos, her lover’s ex-neck, Elizabeth Graves Simcoe, furniture cleaners, suicides and mass strandings. And of course her reader. Here is a poet whose honesty and wry humour loosen the tangles of the heart.
“When you walk into the world with these poems in your head, the world has a new clarity, more light. The most startling and unforgettable book of poetry I’ve read in a long time.” – Susan Musgrave
- Author:Folkart, BarbaraSummary:
In this Ottawa writer's first volume of verse, there are trees, of course—catalpas on stained-glass transoms, an ever-present crabappel, nameless species in whose bare branches the winter solstice lurks. There is music, too—a whorehouse tango, a string quartet enthralling a favourite cat, the silky caress of a clarinet along the remembered flesh of adolescence. And visual art, from the Middle Ages through Matisse, is reenacted in vignettes of desire or dereliction.
- Author:Williams, IanSummary:
"From Ian Williams, author of Reproduction, winner of the Giller Prize and a June 2020 Indie Next Great Read Frustrated by how tough the issues of our time are to solve - racial inequality, our pernicious depression, the troubled relationships we have with other people - Ian Williams revisits the seemingly simple questions of grade school for inspiration: if Billy has five nickels and Jane has three dimes, how many Black men will be murdered by police? He finds no satisfaction, realizing that maybe there are no easy answers to ineffable questions. Williams uses his characteristic inventiveness to find not just new answers but new questions, reconsidering what poetry can be, using math and grammar lessons to shape poems that invite us to participate. Two long poems cut through the text like vibrating basenotes, curiosities circle endlessly, and microaggressions spin into lyric. And all done with a light touch and a joyful sense of humour."--
- Author:Venart, S.E.Summary:
Longlisted for the 2008 ReLit Awards
Whatever their subject — the unwinding of lovers, childhood as the foundation of being, the metaphorical life of everyday objects and events — S.E. Venart’s poems show us a kind of courage that is quotidian. Surviving childhood, surviving failed love, finding solace in the self, and reinvigorating that self: this is the world Venart reveals to us, in all its prescient detail. A honest and lyrical first book.
…The car gained momentum, sped down hills.
Over one tanned sister’s shoulder I saw vivid fields
locked behind white lengths of birch. Wires loped
between attendant poles. Strapped into our seats,
we had in common things we couldn’t get at.
Up on the wires, small birds alighted, fluttered off
as if together they’d all heard
the same charged message.
from “Power Lines”
“Venart’s poetry reveals itself in the world of mysteries that lies between ‘one bright orange next to one bright knife.’ Such is the domestic tension she creates, where home is turned inside out so the familiar becomes unfamiliar. Yet the power of her writing shows how simple things, observed with clarity, are lit from within. This is a book to read, then read again: once for the bright orange and once for the bright knife.”
- Author:Scofield, GregorySummary:
Witness, I Am is divided into three gripping sections of new poetry from one of Canada's most recognized poets. The first part of the book, "Dangerous Sound," contains contemporary themed poems about identity and belonging, undone and rendered into modern sound poetry. "Muskrat Woman," the middle part of the book, is a breathtaking epic poem that considers the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women through the reimagining and retelling of a sacred Cree creation story. The final section of the book, "Ghost Dance," raids the autobiographical so often found in Scofield's poetry, weaving the personal and universal into a tapestry of sharp poetic luminosity. From "Killer," Scofield eerily slices the dreadful in with the exquisite: "I could, this day of proficient blooms, / take your fingers, / tie them down one by one. This one for the runaway, / this one for the joker, / this one for the sass-talker, / this one for the judge, / this one for the jury. / Oh, I could kill you."
- Author:D'Iorio, ChrisSummary:
Tragic-comedic genius emerges in this first book by Chris D’Iorio, kaleidoscopically vivid poetry that is commoditized with the placid title of Without Blue, innocently confessing a condition of lack-lustre lack. A few disarmingly personal lyrics usher us into a book that seems rather sincere and contemplative. Then the intensely capable drive of the poet shifts gears into his Grand Prix artistic race that pits the mud of cynicism against poetry’s slickly navigable satirical engine of agency. Homer, Mallarmé and Ginsberg cohort with D’Iorio in a serious call out of our culture’s infatuation with breakneck profit, profligate glamour and political impunity.
- Author:Banks, ChrisSummary:
In Asian folklore cranes symbolize longevity, immortality, and good fortune. In Winter Cranes, his third collection, award–winning poet Chris Banks conjures these birds when he sees herons near his home towards the end of a long and difficult winter.
For the poet, cranes as a dominant image represent the gaps that exist between what we see and what we feel. His poems explore the impermanence of our modern lives — how our identities are shaped by the past and the present, memory and experience, the physical and the metaphysical. Winter Cranes shows Banks to be an uncompromising poet determined to understand his experience of a world constantly changing around him.
- Author:Maxwell, MarySummary:
These poems are steeped in loss and lament as they concern the death of the poet’s family members, particularly her father and the premature death of two brothers two years apart. The collection’s tone is often elegiac, but rarely maudlin, and the clipped narrative is frequently imbued with lyrical strains.There is an abundance of quotes and hat-tip allusions that act as sign posts along the grieving journey.
- Author:Hobsbawn-Smith, DeeSummary:
In this amazing first collection of poetry, Habsbawn-Smith displays a skill and passion for capturing and creating experience through language. Here is a new, and original voice that sparks with intelligence in its full-tilt explorations of nature, solitude, joy, loss and love. At once sensory, contemplative, compassionate and packed full of startling insights, Wildness Rushing In is an exciting and accomplished poetic debut. "It will come as no surprise to readers of wildness rushing in that dee Hobsbawn-Smith is also an accomplished chef. Here is a feast of tastes and flavours arriving from many regions and nooks of existence, served up with a wisdom that knows its wordless "loveliness in loss" equally with its sharp jolts of awe. She's been there, and brought them to the writing with passion and wit. Savour the lovingly evoked texture of Bennett's old garage, with its Victory Bond poster and the typewriter ribbon unspooling from a shelf; the cow moose with its "dancer's drawl"; that painful moment when a lover's movements undressing flashes back to the father's arm reaching for the belt. These finely focussed poems invite us into a sensuous and emotionally rich landscape: o taste and see." - Don McKay
- Author:Leifso, BrendaSummary:
Poems that stride bravely into the day-to-day, recovering the misdirected intensity at its core. Brenda Leifso’s Wild Madder is about way-finding—through those moments in which you no longer recognize where you are. It’s about not knowing—who you are anymore, how to be in the world, how to love. It’s about what’s unspoken and about what speaks—conversation with the wild and animate world. It’s about marriage, family, motherhood—the drudgery in them and the quiet beauty.
- Author:Murray, GeorgeSummary:
Poetry that explores how accidental voyeurism can force reconsideration and reconciliation
White⋅out: n. a surface condition … in which no object casts a shadow, the horizon cannot be seen, and only dark objects are discernible …
Whiteout: when the heavy weather of daily life establishes the measure of the measureless; when the predatory nature of the accidental conjures cowboys and the comatose; when the sickly sweet pop of life underfoot contrasts the televised image, shrinking to a pinprick.
Whiteout: calques and towers, twin polar storms, falling, burning.
Whiteout: “a book of white nothing.”
George Murray’s sixth collection has been a decade in the making. At once taut, tender and terrifying, haunted and haunting, Whiteout shatters convention in the collision of order and rage, formlessness and hard-won serenity.