Most Anticipated: Spring 2020 Poetry Preview

We continue looking forward to spring releases. Don't miss our Fiction and Nonfiction previews.

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Irfan Ali's debut Accretion (April) is set in Toronto, unfurling against the backdrop of an ancient Persian love story. Softening concrete poetry with humour and tenderness, POP (April), by Simina Banu, takes an uncommon perspective on modern poetic traditions, combining deft lyricism with visual poems for a playful romp. In Tanja Bartel’s riveting poetry debut, Everyone At This Party (March), the bucolic Vancouver suburbs clash with the interpersonal. And Ross Belot has a filmmaker’s sense of atmosphere, an environmentalist’s urgency and his stark lines take the reader deep into the heart of industrial man in Moving to Climate Change Hours (April).

Gwen Benaway follows up the Governor General’s Award-winning Holy Wild with day/break (April), exploring the everyday poetics of the trans feminine body. Bertrand Bickersteth’s debut collection The Response of Weeds (April) explores what it means to be Black and Albertan through numerous prisms: historical, biographical, and essentially, geographical. Emerging and established poets illuminate the impact of humans on the world’s waterways in Sweet Water: Poems for the Watersheds (February), edited by Yvonne Blomer. Claire Caldwell follows Invasive Species with Gold Rush (April), poems that explore what it means to be a settler woman in the wilderness. And Kat Cameron’s poetry, in Ghosts Still Linger (February) illuminates the unsung perspectives of the women of the West, creating a compelling narrative that reflects the poet’s own struggles with sorrow.

Book Cover My Art is Killing Me

A new collection from award-winning poet, novelist, critic, and creative-writing instructor Margaret Christakos, charger (March), considers the plugged-in self fuelled by the technologies that deliver us to each other. Befitting someone who "speaks things into being," Jillian Christmas extracts from family history, queer lineage, and the political landscape of a racialized life to create The Gospel of Breaking (March), a rich, softly defiant collection of poems. And in My Art is Killing Me and Other Poems (March), her second poetry collection, Amber Dawn takes stock of the costs of coming out on the page in a heartrendingly honest and intimate investigation of the toll that artmaking takes on artists. 

The Outer Wards (April), Sadiqa de Meijer's new collection, explores questions of maternal love and duty—and the powerlessness that comes with the disruption of that role through illness. Michael Dennis follows up 2017’s Bad Engine with Low Centre of Gravity (June). In The Headless Man (June), Montreal surrealist Peter Dubé addresses his concern with queer challenges to identity and sexual boundaries, exploring questions about insider and outsider, what constitutes the "normal," and what is relegated to the realm of the "monstrous." And in her fourth book of poetry, the broken boat (April), Daniela Elza deftly builds a raft of questions to keep her afloat amid a marriage that no longer holds water, and which also mirrors subtler breakages in our world.

BC Book Prize-winner Mercedes Eng continues her poetic investigation of racism and colonialism in Canada, weaponizing the language of the nation-state against itself in the service of social justice with my yt mama (March). In Sarah Ens’ debut, The World is Mostly Sky (April), identity and community converge in poems for a modern generation. All I Have Learned Is Where I Have Been (April)—his second collection—establishes Joe Fiorito as the preeminent chronicler of people in extremis. Devolution (February) is Kim Goldberg’s eighth book and her personal act of extinction rebellion, poems and fables that span the Anthropocene, speaking to ecological unravelling, social confusion, private pilgrimage, urbanization and wildness. And the late Teva Harrison grapples with what it means to live with metastatic breast cancer in Not One of These Poems is About You (January).

Tamara Faith Berger describes Beatriz Hausner’s Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart (April) as “elegant, thirsty and visionary poems, echoing with song.” A House in Memory (May), a selection of David Helwig’s last poems, was assembled by his daughter, Maggie, showing an author still at the height of his powers, creating work in complex formal structures, contemplating mortality, memory, and the landscape of his adopted home of Prince Edward Island, while paying tribute to his literary predecessors. Mathew Henderson, finalist for the Trillium Book Award and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, explores with remarkable insight the unique logics of video games and addiction in Roguelike (April). And in Rupture: North-West 1885 (April), a hypnotic retelling of the North-West Resistance, acclaimed poet Walter Hildebrandt breaches the divide between Imperialist narrative, Indigenous orality, and Continental philosophy to disrupt this heavily-charged period of Canadian history.

Twisting and turning against the soul-sicknesses of late-capitalism, Chris Hutchinson’s new collection of poems, In the Vicinity of Riches (March), scrolls through myriad moods and aesthetic guises, by turns hallucinatory, despondent, and serene. Ken Hunt’s The Odyssey compares the astronauts of the 20th and 21st centuries to seafarers of ancient Greek literature, mythic figures who devoted their lives to endeavours of discovery and understanding. And New Westminster, BC, Poet Laureate Emerita Candice James’ new book is The Path of Loneliness (June), exploring the many facets of love, desire, grief and loss experienced as we travel our own personal “Path of Loneliness.”

Body Count (April), by Kyla Jamieson, focuses on Jamieson’s experience with concussion and post-concussion syndrome and deals with the embodied costs of misogyny, the hostilities and precarities of life under neoliberal global capitalism, connection amidst the proliferation of persuasive technologies and the dizzying escapism of romance and pleasure—before the roughly chronological text is interrupted by a brain injury and its attendant symptoms. Nought (April), a new collection of poetry from Governor General’s Literary Award finalist Julie Anne Joosten, explores the intersections of body, identity, and love. And Curtis Leblanc’s Birding in the Glass Age of Isolation (April) explores the experience and greater social implications of mental illness, specifically OCD and Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder.

Acclaimed novelist Nancy Lee’s debut poetry collection What Hurts Going Down (March) explores how socially ingrained violence and sexual power dynamics distort girlhood, womanhood, and friendship. Paul Legault spent some time hearing from Yeats’ ghost, and his latest collection, The Tower (April), a translation of the poet’s latest work, is Legault talking back. David Suzuki calls Joanna Lilley’s Endlings (April) “a reminder of what we have lost within human memory.
 It’s a frightening reminder that Nature is our Mother and source of life.” And Double Self-Portrait (April), by James Lindsay, explores doubling and reproduction in art, memory, culture, nostalgia and fatherhood.

Miscreations (April), the second collection by Grant Loveys, mulls over the metaphorical concept of miscreation—how people, objects, and relationships are imperfectly designed by their various creators—through the use of direct, visceral language, and frank, sometimes shocking, imagery. Canisia Lubrin returns with a mesmerizing new collection, The Dyzgraphxst, (March), the follow-up to her breakout book, Voodoo Hypothesis. In The Negation of Chronology (May), Rebecca Luce-Kapler explores the life Geraldine Moodie, granddaughter of Susanna Moodie, who was the first woman to own photography studios on the Canadian prairies and create an extensive oeuvre of the territory that is now Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Nunavut.

M.A. Mahadeo’s debut collection is Never a Child (April), the culmination of a young woman's experiences—both an open dialogue with, and a true reflection of, those individuals who have contributed to her understanding of her feminine identity. Spoken-word poet Valerie Mason-John unsettles readers with potent images of ongoing trauma from slavery and colonization in I am Still Your Negro (January). A.F. Moritz’s As Far As You Know (April) plumbs the depth of beauty, history, responsibility, and love. In Glass Float (April), her seventh collection, award-winning poet Jane Munro considers the widening of horizons that border and shape our lives, the familiarity and mystery of conscious experience, and the deepening awareness that comes with a dedicated practice. And while Catherine Owen’s Designated Mourner honoured grief, her latest, Riven (April), focuses on modes of survival and transformation through looking outward, and beyond.

Book Cover Earle Street

The long, narrative poem, Radiant Shards: Hoda’s North End Poems (May), by Ruth Panofsky, traces the sacrifice and suffering of devoted but destitute parents, Russian immigrants who are acutely affected by the Depression and struggle relentlessly to survive in Winnipeg. A lyrical collection focussing on a specific street and on a particular tree growing there, Earle Street (April), by Governor General’s Award winner Arleen Paré, takes the concept of street and urban living, the houses on the street, the neighbours, the boulevard trees and wildlife, and the street’s history as a poetic focal point. And slow planetary rotation, the push and pull of the moon, a book—Paul Pearson’s debut collection of poems, Lunatic Engine (April) lays before readers a mapping and re-mapping of the familiar systems of order we rely on to survive the human experience.

Bones (April), Tyler Pennock's wise and arresting debut, is about the ways we process the traumas of our past, and about how often these experiences eliminate moments of softness and gentleness. Michael Prior explores the enduring impact of the Japanese internment upon his family legacy and his mixed-race identity in Burning Province (March). In To float, to drown, to close up, to open (March), E. Alex Pierce enters the territory of memory embedded in a landscape where “language tied to the land” evokes the cadence of tidal rivers and creates a fluid world. Meredith Quartermain’s Lullabies in the Real World (April) is a sequence of poems about a train journey from West Coast to East Coast that invokes a patchwork of regions, voices and histories. And Cephalopography 2.0, by Rasiqra Revulva (April), is as much a passionate celebration of cephalopods in all their plurality and finery as it is a collection of poems exploring human identity and experience through the lens of these marine animals.

In rushes from the river disappointment (May), a meditative, musically attentive collection exploring the confounding nature of intimate relationships, stephanie roberts’ poetic expression is often irreverent, unapologetic, and infused with humour that can take surprisingly grave turns. Vancouver poet Shaun Robinson's If You Discover a Fire (May) is a debut collection of poems that make a virtue of their failure to communicate. Pluviophile (April), by Yusuf Saadi, is a poetic rumination on where language originates and what value it retains to unearth the sacred in postmodernity, among other subjects. Fields of Light and Stone (March), by Angeline Schellenberg, is a reflection on how family history shapes and moves us. And Norm Sibum’s Gardens of the Interregnum (April) is described as “field notes from the end of empire, a satirist’s barbs, verse letters from a poet to his enemies and friends."

OO: Typewriter Poems (April), by Dani Spinosa, is a collection of feminist visual poetry that rewrites avant-garde poetic history. From John Elizabeth Stinzi, winner of the Writers’ Trust of Canada RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, Junebat (April) is a form and gender-disrupting debut collection that grapples with the pain of uncertainty on the path towards becoming. In her debut poetry collection A Different Wolf (May), Deborah-Anne Tunney delves into the life and work of one of the 20th century’s most influential film directors, Alfred Hitchcock. And within the poems of The Only Card in a Deck of Knives (April), Lauren Turner aims to reclaim the “hysterical” label given to sick women throughout history.

Collected Poems of Bronwen Wallace (May), edited by Carolyn Smart, celebrates the clarity, humour, righteous anger, and inclusivity of Wallace’s poetry, which remains timely and original 30 years after her death. M.C. Warrior’s Disappearing Minglewood Blues (April) is a fine collection of new poetry and poems only previously found in magazines, anthologies and in the chapbook Quitting Time, ranging from poems about working on the coast—commercial fishing, logging, environmental campaigner—to the political meaning of work, and wry and deft observations on topics ranging from Buddhism to Ovid in the afterlife. And Watching a Man Break a Dog’s Back (March), by Tom Wayman, is a new collection contemplating how to live in fractious times.

February 6, 2020
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