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Most Anticipated: Our Spring 2016 Poetry Preview

Spring is Canadian poetry's time to shine. 

Book Cover Injun

Spring is all about the daffodils, and rain showers, and looking forward to April—otherwise known as National Poetry Month! Here are some poetry titles that we're really excited about. 


Injun (May), by the award-winning Jordan Abel, composed of text found in western novels published between 1840 and 1950, creates a long poem about race, racism, and the representation of Indigenous peoples. Tough poems for tough times: Martial Music, George Amabile's eleventh book, explores the relationships between civilization, technology, empire and human violence, theatres of war, the collateral damage of military occupation, the machinations of power politics, oil spills, destruction of the environment, PTSD, and other characteristics of what we call “world events.” Chewing Water (April), by Nelson Ball, represents a landmark event in a six-decade writing career. And House of Mystery (June), by Courtney Bates-Hardy, is a collection of poems about monsters, mothers, witches and mermaids that will tear apart our conceptions of fairy tales.

Book Cover Box Kite

Slick Reckoning (April) is by Ken Belford, a timber framer who mills his own lumber, and whose poetry reads similarly, with powerful connections artfully made. Award-winner bill bissett's new collection of concrete poetry is th book (April). Roo Borson and Kim Maltman, writing as Bazijou, release Box Kite: Prose Poems (April), a mediation on travel between places and times (and languages). Slow States of Collapse (April), by Ashley-Elizabeth Best, navigates the fault lines of popular culture and traditional poetry. And The Red Files (May), a collection about the legacy of the residential schools system, is the latest from Lisa Bird-Wilson, author of the award-winning short story collection Just Pretending.

Book Cover 100 Days

Drawing on her own family's history of displacement, Juliane Okot Bitek recorded the lingering nightmare of the Rwandan genocide in a poem each day for 100 days and her collection, 100 Days (January), is the result. Lara Bozabalian, who was named Toronto’s Best Poet in Now Magazine in 2015, releases Tourist in April. A Map in My Blood (April) is the latest by Carla Braidek, whose previous book was shortlisted for the Saskatchewan Book Award for poetry. Award-winner Suzanne Buffam is back with A Pillow Book (April): "Not a narrative. Not an essay. Not a shopping list. Not a song. Not a diary. Not an etiquette manual. Not a confession. Not a prayer. Not a secret letter sent through the silent Palace hallways before dawn." And Saint Twin (April) is the debut of Sarah Burgoyne, described as an emerging star in Canadian poetry.

Book Cover Human Tissue

Book of Short Sentences (April), the fourth book by Alice Burdick, delves deep into the life of an urbanite who has relocated to small-town Nova Scotia. Pound @ Guantanamo (April), by Clint Burnham, is described as “a meeting of obscene or politically charged material, as well as comment on language usage under extreme circumstances of duress such as the Arab Spring.” Dopamine Blunder (April) is the third collection by well known Winnipeg poet, Lori Cayer. Human Tissue (April), by award-winner Weyman Chan, is a collection of poems that try to get along with each other—but can’t. And The Exiles Papers Part Four (March), completes a sweeping sonnet sequence by Wayne Clifford (whose first book was the first book ever published by Coach House Press).

Book Cover Disturbing the Buddha

Late Victorians, by Vincent Colistro (April), is described as a book by a poet who builds his weirdness from scratch. With Departures (April), Dennis Cooley contemplates his mortality and also makes fart jokes. Fans of Michael Crummey will welcome Little Dogs (April), a collection of new and selected work. In Disturbing the Buddha (March), Barry Dempster engages with a love of the flaw. To Greet Yourself Arriving (April), by Michael Fraser, makes homage to the inspirational and illustrious figures of the African diaspora. And Kim Fu, who won acclaim for her first novel, For Today I Am a Boy, releases How Festive the Ambulance (May). 

Book Cover Serpentine Loop

Inaugural Vancouver Poet Laureate Carla Funk’s latest book is Fallow and Feast, whose poetry looks to the small and marvellous. Serpentine Loop (May), by the award-winning Elee Kraljii Gardiner, is a collection of poems about life on and off the ice rink. Touch the Darkness (April) is the first book by Marty Gervais since he was appointed Windsor’s Poet Laureate in 2011. Tight Wire (April), by Kerry Gilbert, is a collection of poems about the distorted expectations of domesticity and of the female heart. Deaf Heaven (February), by Garry Gottfriedson, deals with the ways in which the world is deaf to the problems of First Nations people in Canada. With Settler Education (March), acclaimed poet Laurie D. Graham explores the Plains Cree uprising at Frog Lake. 

Book Cover Burning in This Midnight Dream

Buoyancy Control (April), by acclaimed poet Adrienne Gruber, is at times humorous, and revealing look inside the mind and body of a woman manoeuvring through experiences of longing, loss, and the fluidity of sexuality. Assdeep in Wonder (May), by Christopher Gudgeon, explores the nature of identity. Wolverine States (April) is the latest by Eva HD, of whom George Elliott Clark has said, “She understands that poetry can be—and can do—anything.” Burning In This Midnight Dream (April), by Louise Bernice Halfe, describes how the experience of the residential schools continues to haunt those who survive, and how the effects pass like a virus from one generation to the next. And Magyarázni (May), by Helen Hajnoczky, is a faux-Hungarian language primer that invites readers to experience what it’s like to be "made Hungarian" by growing up with a parent who came to North America as a refugee.

Book Cover Conjugation

Conjugation (March)—the new collection of poetry from Governor General's Literary Award and Trillium Book Award-winning poet Phil Hall—sees an open realm where individual letters inside a word are each rolling through their possibilities, from A to Z. Governor General’s Literary Award finalist and bestselling author Steven Heighton returns with The Waking Comes Late (April), a collection of laments and celebrations that reflect on our struggle to believe in the future of a world that continues to disappoint us. Hard Work Cheering Up Sad Machines (April) is new from Jason Heroux, whose previous work has been shortlisted for a ReLit Award. And Documentaries (April), by Walter Hildenbrandt, draws a clear line from historical outrages such as the Dakota Wars of the nineteenth century and the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike to injustices in present-day England, Cuba, and Canada.

Book Cover Throaty Wipes

Throaty Wipes (May), by Susan Holbrook, follows up her amazing collection, Joy is So Exhausting. Jennifer Houle's debut collection is The Back Channels (April), with poems that come from a place of grappling, an attempt to find meaning, beauty and connection in the day-to-day, without being confined by it. Being eaten by a lion is a gift rather than a loss, an opportunity for grace, or so explains award-winner Michael Johnson in his new book, How to Be Eaten by a Lion (May). Richard Kelly Kemick's debut collection is Caribou Run (March), whose beating heart is the Porcupine caribou herd of the western Arctic. In Never Mind (April), Katherine Lawrence navigates the theme of settlement through the perspective of a nineteenth-century immigrant. And Measures of Astonishment (March), by the League of Canadian Poets, shines a northern light on Canadian poetry and why it matters.

Book Cover All the Gold Hurts My Mouth

All the Gold Hurts My Mouth (March), a debut by Katherine Leyton (the inaugural Writer-in-Residence at the Al & Eurithe Purdy A-Frame), takes on the sexual politics of the twenty-first century. The poems in Mood Swing, With Pear (April), by Sue MacLeod, range from a tribute to iconic paintings by the late Canadian painter, Alex Colville, to poems constructed from how-to books and encyclopedias to a eulogy for an upstairs neighbour who is both an inspiration and an annoyance. The Names (March) is the latest by Governor General’s Award-winner, Tim Lilburn. The poems in Dorothy Mahoney's third collection, Off-Leash (March), delve into the anguish of dogs loved and lost, and the joy of homecoming. And Whelmed (May), by Nicole Markotic ́, starts from the premise that we all intuitively know what a word is, then ends by challenging that certainty.

Book Cover Metanoia

The poems in Wind Leaves Absence (April), by Mary Maxwell, chronicle the journey of grief. Don’t Be Interesting (March) is the third collection by Jacob McArthur Mooney, whose previous work has been nominated for the Trillium Book Award. Metanoia (April), by Sharon McCartney, is a book-length meditation on transformation, enlightenment, and on opening one’s eyes. In Touch Anywhere To Begin, Jim Nason's fifth collection of poetry, poems are set in a physical world where full-throttle desire commingles with love, loss, and grief. John Nyman's Players is staged in an urban dreamscape, fusing popular culture with narratives about hand-to-hand combat, how to hustle, and high art.

Book Cover Let The Empire Down

Readers who loved Alexandra Oliver's 2014 Pat Lowther Award-winning Meeting the Tormenters at Safeway are looking forward to her latest, Let the Empire Down (April). Ceremony of Touching (April) is the second collection by Karen Shklanka, who draws upon her experience as a physician in her work. My Dinosaur (March), by award-winning Quebec poet François Turcot, translated by Erin Moure, is a dedication to the poet's vanished father. Model Disciple (April), by Michael Prior, whose poetry has won prizes across Canada, gives voice to speakers confounded by painful Japanese-Canadian legacies. Barking and Biting: The Poetry of Sina Queyras (March), edited by Erin Wunker,  brings together representative work from the poetic oeuvre of Sina Queyras, who is at the forefront of contemporary discussions of genre, gender, and criticism of poetry.

Book Cover Weathervane

Matt Rader's latest collection is Desecrations (March), poems about entering middle age, living a life of books, and trying to know what it means to be or not be from or of a place. Where We Live (April), by John Reibetanz, works as a kind of long poem, its three parts interconnected, each presenting a particular interpretation of the process of possession, loss, and recovery. Meditatio Placentae (April), by award-winner Monty Reid, is a book about “unruly stuff.” Stuart Ross' latest is A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent (May). The poems in Weathervane (March), by Mark Sampson, deal with the unpredictability of weather due to climate change. And The Dirty Knees of Prayer (March), by Timothy Shay, is a collection of poems that shrug at death.

Book Cover Even This Page is White

Even This Page is White (May), is the first collection of poetry by Vivek Shraya, author of She of the Mountains and God Loves Hair. Acclaimed poet and critic Sue Sinclair engages with big questions in Heaven's Thieves (May). Shift (April), the first book by Kelly Shepherd, champions the beauty and resilience of nature and reminds us that we need to protect our relationships with it. Ignite (May), by Kevin Spenst, is a collection of elegiac and experimental poetry powder-kegged with questions about one man's lifelong struggle with schizophrenia. The poems in Après Satie: For Two and Four Hands (April)
, by Dean Steadman, echo Satie’s haunting music and refract the ironies of the Parisian Dada movement.

Book Cover Waiting Room

Anne Michaels describes The Largeness of Rescue (May), by Eva Tihanyi, as a book of both restlessness and acceptance; as both a longing for clarity and a reconciliation. A Bedroom Full of Searchlights (June), by Joanna M Weston, explores the poet’s mother’s experience of divorce and single motherhood in a time when this was all unusual. The poems in The Unlit Path Behind the House (April), by Margo Wheaton, listen for the lyricism inside the day’s blessings and catastrophes. I’ll Be There Soon (April) is the second collection of poetry by comedian and America's Got Talent-finalist John Wing Jr.

The poems in You Can’t Bury Them All (April), by Patrick Woodcock, reflect on the poet's experiences in Iraq, Azerbaijan, and the Northwest Territories. And Waiting Room (April), by Jennifer Zilm, subverts, shares, and repurposes the vocabularies of psychiatry, dentistry, the Bible, and academia in a humorous investigation of the contained intimacy of appointments and therapeutic relationships.

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