Most Anticipated: Our 2019 Spring Poetry Preview

Post-Groundhog Day, we're looking forward to spring with our Poetry Preview, featuring new books by established poets and exciting debuts. 

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Set against a backdrop of political turmoil in the United States, James Arthur’s The Suicide's Son (April) is about the complicated personal histories that parents inherit, add to, and pass on to their children. Gathering narratives that feel both ancient and modern, John Wall Barger forges an apocalyptic vision without sacrificing poetry's underlying sense of joy, humour, and revelation in The Mean Game (April). Mike Barnes' Braille Rainbow (April) is about perception across the sensory spectrum and the arc of learning about the world and about oneself. And breth (April) presents both new and selected poems from legendary Canadian sound, visual, and performance poet bill bissett. 

Cass Blanchard’s Fresh Pack of Smokes (April) is a collection of direct and honest first-person narrative poems about the author’s experiences living homeless in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Award-winner Ali Blythe’s second collection is Hymnswitch (March), in which he once again takes up themes of identity and the body, this time casting an eye backwards and forwards, visiting places of recovery and wrestling with the transition into one's own skin. Tim Bowling’s latest is The Dark Set (March), which wrestles with conflicted feelings about masculinity, history, citizenship, and power. 

Susan Buis’s debut is Gatecrasher (June), poems that revisit and revise concepts of self and land. Expanding breathlessly in the magnitude of loss, Shirley Camia's fourth collection, Mercy (April) confronts despair to emerge anew with a bright offering of elegy. Amid #MeToo, climate change, and political turmoil, Natalee Caple strives to discover a way forward in Love in the Cthulhucene (Cthulhucene) (May). Twice winner of the E.J. Pratt Medal in Poetry, Edward Carson’s latest is Look Here Look Away Look Again (April), a collection that turns poetry and paintings, making and representation, language and thought on their heads. And with great care, Lauren Carter wades into family histories and geography, all the while charting her own territories in Following Sea (February). 

Peter Christianson’s Oona River Poems (January) is an antidote to the plethora of information, propaganda, and opinion with which we are confronted every day. Jason Christie’s Cursed Objects (April) asks what happens to identity when we're obsessed with self-surveillance and devalued words? Two new releases by Dennis Cooley in April: Bestiary (“a chorus of "clucks & barks & muffled cries") and Cold Press Moon (“Like the best and most magical of fairy tales…”). Daniel Cowper’s debut is Grotesque Tenderness (April), poems for an unrooted age, for unrooted people. Kayla Czaga follows up her award-winning For Your Safety Please Hold On with Dunk Tank (April) where she reimagines the body as a strange and unknowable landscape, full of cancers that “burst like blackberries"; a butt that could run for prime minister of Canada; and the Cerberus-like sultry eyes of Winona Ryder’s pores.

A window into the complex and disordered lives of middle age, Marita Dachsel’s third poetry collection, There Are Not Enough Sad Songs (April), draws from her own history and explores parenthood, love, and the grief of losing those both close and distant. In her first full-length collection, The Brightest Thing (February), award-winning poet Ruth Daniell offers work that is both earnest and hopeful, even in the face of trauma. The debut collection of New Brunswick poet Emily Davidson, Lift (January) is an examination of how to be alive without being adrift. And Sarah de Leeuw follows up the Governor-General’s Award-nominated Where It Hurts with Outside America (April), tethered to everything from climate change and scientific discovery through to the death of parents, resource extraction, divorce and career changes. 

Dina Del Bucchia’s It’s a Big Deal (April) questions the way modern society values, interprets, and roasts or embraces ideas about what matters. Radiant (June) is a powerful poetic journey through Kate Marshall Flaherty's life from breast cancer diagnosis to healing and wholeness. PERFACT (April), by Nicole Raziya Fong, is a series in three parts, beginning with an interrogation into the structure of experience, language, and identity. And Chantel Gibson’s How She Read (January) is a collection of genre-blurring poems about the representation of Black women, their hearts, minds and bodies, across the Canadian cultural imagination.

Award-winner Kerry Gilbert’s new book is Little Red (February), a contemporary verse version of the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. Susan Glickman’s What We Carry (April) is a profound exploration of the weight of human history at three levels: the individual, the cultural, and the environmental. And David Groulx, an Anishnaabee writer, artistically weaves together the experiences of Indigenous peoples in settler Canada with those of the people of Palestine, revealing a shared understanding of colonial pasts and presents, in From Turtle Island to Gaza (April).

Adrienne Gruber’s third full poetry collection, Q & A (April), is a poetic memoir detailing a first pregnancy, birth, and early postpartum period. On-stage in Matthew Gwathmey’s debut collection, Our Latest in Folktales (April), are agitated 19th-century horsemen, '80s comic book beetles, plaid-clad suburban grunge enthusiasts, Korean aunts turned traffic cops, Parisian mimes—in short, “a multitude of horns.” Restrained in form but not feeling, Jennica Harper's fourth book, Bounce House (June), explores the cyclical nature of grief, imperfect parenting, and our willingness to jump without promise of a safe landing. 

In Unidentified Poetic Object (May), his twelfth collection of poetry, Brian Henderson strikes from language an “alphabet of lightning,” an animacy and urgency in which every object is potent with actions, past and present; every action is alive with the potential of what it might move in the world. Nothing is too big or too small to kindle curiosity in Raye Hendrickson’s Five Red Sentries (January). From the award-winning poet Doyali Islam comes Heft (March), an intimate, luminous second collection of poems that investigates rupture and resilience. And Kaie Kellough’s Magnetic Equator (March) is an exploration of place, identity, language, and experience from the acclaimed poet, novelist, and sound performer.

Claire Kelly’s second collection, One Thing—Then Another (April), is a poetic response to the tumult of a move across country. The Inflatable Life (May), Mark Laba's second full-length poetry collection—and his first in seventeen years—recreates the structure of the old variety shows he watched on TV as a child. Dayne Ogilvie Prize-winner Ben Ladouceur follows up Otter with Mad Long Emotion (April). And the third book by Brenda Leifso, past winner of the Banff Centre Bliss Carman Poetry Award, is Wild Madder (April), about way-finding through those moments in which you no longer recognize where you are. 

In his new book of poems, A Matins Flywheel (January), John Lent brings a life-long fascination with literary forms to the hybrid prose/poetry of a new long poem and to new, loose, genre-mixing poems and prose sketches about growing up in Edmonton, his love of jazz, his travel to Prague, and the writing legacy of Robert Kroetsch. Hope Matters (April), written by multiple award-winning author Lee Maracle and her daughters Columpa Bobb and Tania Carter, focuses on the journey of Indigenous people from colonial beginnings to reconciliation. And from Homer to Starbucks, Domenica Martinello’s All Day I Dream of Sirens (April) is a look at sirens and mermaids and feminism and consumerism. 

Laura Matwichuk’s debut is Near Miss (April), which investigates how near misses or close calls reflect the tenuous conditions of contemporary life. Cassidy McFadzean follows up Hacker Packer with Drolleries (March), which investigates how the lure of romantic relationships, the enchantments of art, and the seductions of power can be both destructive and transformative—and ultimately become a pathway to self-realization. Emma McKenna’s Chenille or Silk (March) is a startling first collection of confessional poetry examining the slippery relations of desire, class, embodiment, and trauma. Spanning more than 25 years, I Could Have Pretended to Be Better Than You (April) gathers work from Jay MillAr’s development as a poet. 

Erin Moure’s The Elements (April) is a family book, a thinker’s biography in poetry, and a polylingual homage, constructed on a double axis. Lambda Literary Award-winner Hasan Namir’s debut collection of poetry, War / Torn (April), is a brazen and lyrical interrogation of religion and masculinity—the performance and sense of belonging they delineate and draw together. Engaging with the inevitability of change and flux, Thomas O'Grady's poems in Delivering the News (April) grapple with themes of death and rebirth, of loss and resiliency, of ebb and flow within nature and within individual lives and romantic and domestic relationships. And in Tonguebreaker (March), their fourth collection of poetry, Lambda Literary Award-winning poet and writer Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha continues an excavation of working-class queer brown femme survivorhood and desire.

The poems in E. Alex Pierce’s new collection, To float, to drown, to close up, to open (March), invite readers to meditate upon language embedded in landscape, and trace the formation of a young artist who begins in music, arrives at theatre, and ends in poetry. Marilyn Gear Pilling’s latest book is Gods of East Wawanoosh (March), a clear-eyed meditation “on our mortality and the light in which it casts both our longing for the ideal and our embrace of the real.” The poems in Michelle Porter’s Inquiries (June) risk the comingling of anger and elegy, poetry and documentation, humour and the dark spectre of poverty. And award-winner Matt Rader’s latest is Visual Inspection (April), part memoir, part essay, part poetic investigation spiralling through a fractured body of discovery that includes critical reflections on disability, access, blindness, redaction, pain, illness, and death.

Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Michael Redhill’s first collection of poetry in 18 years, Twitch Force (April), is grounded in its title as an essential source of its gnomic, satirical, and lucid intelligence. John Reibetanz’s twelfth collection is By Hand, poems that examine the creative achievements of the human hand, from cave art to contemporary photography. In Nikki Reimer’s My Heart is a Rose Manhattan (April), there is death and loss, architecture, alcohol, horse statues, and catalogues of life away from the urban centres of Canada. And from Superman to James Bond, from childhood’s imaginings to life’s darkest moments, Paula Remlinger explores identity and depression with humour and empathy in This Hole Called January (January). 

A poetic primer on mothering and motherhood, After Birth (April), by Elizabeth Ross, is unflinching in its celebration of new life. In Motel of the Opposable Thumbs (April), Stuart Ross continues to ignore trends in Canadian poetry, and further follow the journey he began over four decades ago. A treaty is a contract. A treaty is enduring. A treaty is an act of faith. A treaty at its best is justice. It is a document and an undertaking. It is connected to place, people and self. It is built on the past, but it also indicates how the future may unfold and Armand Garnet Ruffo's TREATY# (March) is all of these. And the poems in Catherine J. Stewart’s Snow Melts First in the Middle of the Slough (January) recall and reimagine a family’s life in Spillimacheen, British Columbia—no plumbing, no central heating—and a childhood spent outdoors, framed by mountains.

Karen Solie’s fifth book of poetry, The Caiplie Caves (April), attends to transition in times of crisis. The poems in Any Waking Morning (May), by Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes, probe deeply into love, loss, and life's darker dilemmas. Acclaimed poet Souvankham Thammavongsa returns with Cluster (March), her fourth collection, a book about meaning. Drawing on the patterns of words, speech, and identity we encounter in the wider world—subway ads in Mexico City, a Dutch-Japanese phrase book, multilingual airplane safety instructions, one of Italo Calvino’s invisible cities—the poems in Hugh Thomas’s Maze (June) playfully translate the maze of languages and language into moments of amazement. And in her powerful debut collection of poetry, Distintegreate/Disassociate (March), Arielle Twist unravels the complexities of human relationships after death and metamorphosis.

Katie Vatour’s debut collection, An Unorthodox Guide to Wildlife (April), is an eclectic examination of the space where humans and animals meet, where migratory patterns encounter commercial flights, and birds appear as fishermen, security guards, and street performers. Traversing the world from the Garden of Eden to a grandmother asking what’s a tweet, We Were Like Everyone Else (March), by Ken Victor, explores the daily humanity of family, the folly of our politics, and a natural world that seems to offer the promise of consolation but never quite does. In These Aren’t the Potatoes of My Youth (February), Matthew Walsh explores queer identity set against an ever-changing landscape of what we want, and who we are, were, and came to be.

If poetry is a place to question, I Am a Body of Land (April), by Shannon Webb-Campbell, is an attempt to explore a relationship to poetic responsibility and accountability, and frame poetry as a form of re-visioning. The latest by Howard White is A Mysterious Humming Noise (June). And Social Poesis: The Poetry of Rachel Zolf (May), selected with an introduction by Heather Milne, introduces readers to the work of one of Canada’s most exciting and challenging poets.

February 4, 2019
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