Off the Page

A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between

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Book Cover In Praise of Retreat

Why We All Need Breathing Space

By Kirsteen MacLeod

"Retreat is an adventure, and it involves uncertainty. Whether we go to the quiet woods to rest or make art, walk a pilg …

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Book Cover What the Kite Saw

What the Kite Saw: Stories of Children and Crisis

By Anne Laurel Carter

"Children have their own unique ways of facing a crisis. Yes, they need protecting, but they are also resilient. They ha …

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Shelf Talkers: Spring 2021

Shelf Talkers: Spring 2021

By Robert J. Wiersema

One of the best pieces of news in an otherwise dark year was the word that, despite the growth of online giants during t …

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Book Cover The Shadow Life

My Drifter Reading List

By Jen Sookfong Lee

A poetry list by the author of new book The Shadow List.

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Book Cover Fuse

Persian-Canadian Writers You've Got to Read

By Hollay Ghadery

So, where were all the Persian Canadian writers? It turns out, here all along, but not as represented as one might hope; …

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Tough Like Mum: An Essential Picture Book for Kids *and* Adults

Tough Like Mum: An Essential Picture Book for Kids *and* Adults

By Geoffrey Ruggero

Picture books are often written with young children as their intended audience. In Tough Like Mum, Lana Button provides …

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Book Cover We Jane

Aimee Wall on The Great Canadian Abortion Novel

By Kerry Clare

"I didn’t want the plot to turn on an abortion or the decision to have one. Any conflict or tension is rooted elsewher …

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Book Cover Because the Sun

Poetry That's Going to Grab You

By 49thShelf Staff

Great books to read before for National Poetry Month is out.

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The Chat with Christopher DiRaddo

The Chat with Christopher DiRaddo

By Trevor Corkum

Christopher DiRaddo’s sophomore novel, The Family Way, is a dynamic and rich exploration of queer family, parenthood, …

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Book Cover No More Plastic

Fighting for the Planet: Inspiring Books for Earth Day

By Kerry Clare

An eclectic list of inspiring books about fighting to protect the planet.

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It's Poetry All the Time at 49th Shelf

April is National Poetry Month, and we can think of no better occasion than that to point you toward the excellent poetry coverage that we get up to all the time at 49th Shelf. A short trip back through our archives will reveal that our national poetry is celebrated here all year round.

Book Cover Hummingbird

We're pleased to feature the shortlists for the Raymond Souster Award, Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, which were announced on April 2.


Book Cover What It Feels Like For a Girl

To mark International Women's Day, Marita Dachsel (author of new book Glossolalia) brought us a diverse and compelling list of great Canadian poetry collections written by women.


Book Cover Journey With No Maps

Julie Wilson recently did a great interview with Sandra Djwa, author of Journey With No Maps, the acclaimed new biography of Canadian poet P.K. Page.


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P.K. Page: I could do with the good solid reality of you

Book Cover Where the Nights Are Twice As Long

Under the covers of Where the Nights Are Twice as Long: Love Letters of Canadian Poets, David Eso and Jeanette Lynes collect letters and epistolary poems from more than 120 Canadian poets, including Pauline Johnson, Malcolm Lowry, Louis Riel, Alden Nowlan, Anne Szumigalski , Leonard Cohen, John Barton, and Di Brandt, and many others, encompassing the breadth of this country's English literary history.

We are pleased to feature this excerpt, a love letter from P.K. Page to F.R. Scott, a letter full of longing and love from one poet to another. And learn more about the anthology at 


P.K. Page to F.R. Scott Friday, June 30, 1944


I’m sorry to write rot.

1x1 has just arrived. Lambie-pie how swell of you. I have been gobbling it up & not understanding but getting the feeling & going back & regobbling & understanding better & all in all feeling it’s my birth day or yours or something. Cummings seems to be a sort of carrier pigeon flying back & forth between us.

I have decided to leave here on the 14th & that is definite. Will arrive at New River the same day — or night rather — if I can connect with a bus. I’m quite excited about it. From now on I’m going to try to work like stink on the histories to make enough money …

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Best Canadian Poetry: A Lyric Meditation That Leads To Awe

Book Cover The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry

The Best Canadian Poetry series turns ten this year, and its editors have celebrated this momentous occasion with Best of the Best Canadian Poetry, an anthology which includes the best works from the previous nine volumes of the series. Explore works by Best of the Best authors here, and enjoy an excerpt from editor Molly Peacock's foreword, “The Best Canadian Poem Now: A Lyric Meditation Leads to Awe.”


Twenty-five years ago, when I emigrated from the United States to Canada, I would walk into a bookstore—there were many bookstores, then—and speed to the poetry section. Few of the names were familiar to me. I had searched the world for poems to represent the whirling cultural mass of New Yorkers when I co-originated Poetry in Motion on the New York City subways and buses. Even as I scoured for Greek, Japanese, Polish, Nigerian, Chilean verse, it only slowly occurred to me to search for a Canadian poem to put on a New York placard. Who were these poets, and why didn’t I, an international traveler who read poetry from many countries, know about them?

My curiosity led me to an alliance with the founder of Tightrope Books, Halli Villegas. Just as she was forming the press, my idea of bringing the American tradition of choosing the best group of poems pub …

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Most Anticipated: 2019 Fall Poetry Preview

Our fall preview continues with poetry!


Poet and intermedia artist Oana Avasilichioaei’s follow-up to Limbinal is Eight-Track (November), a transliterary exploration composed of eight “tracks” plus two bonus tracks, each of which explores one of the various meanings of the word “track”: musical track, a physical path, marks left by a person or animal, speech tracking, animal and human tracking, and systems of surveillance. The National Gallery (September), Jonathan Ball’s fourth poetry book and his first in seven years, swirls chaos and confession together, and at the book’s heart is a question: Why create art? Whether calling a tree “an anthology of leaves” or describing time as “a Fisher-Price View Master of ‘first kisses’ and ‘no return’ policies,” Chris Banks approaches writing as if anything might make for alarming, strange, and dizzying verse in Midlife Action Figure (September). 

Book Cover NDN coping Mechanisms

Building on the dreamy emotional landscapes she plumbed in If I Were in a Cage I’d Reach Out for You, Adèle Barclay navigates even …

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The Randomizer

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