This latest installment of our 2022 Spring Preview offers new books by celebrated poets including Paul Zits, Alexandra Oliver, Madhur Anand, Yvonne Blomer, Lorna Goodison, Evelyn Lau, Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang, rob mclennan, Katherine Lawrence, and more, plus many exciting debuts.
The poems in Maleea Acker’s Hesitating Once to Feel Glory (April) cajole and praise both the world and interior life with both an erotic charge and enduring hope. In Parasitic Oscillations (March), Madhur Anand examines various aspects of living and practicing as both a poet and scientist in the Anthropocene during a time of unravelling. And Hypatia’s Wake (June), by Susan Andrews Grace, presents Hypatia of Alexandria, the Neoplatonic philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician who was murdered by Christians in the fifth century.
Patterned on a series of dream states, David Barrick’s Nightlight (May) delves into the surreal nature of the human imagination, even at its most unconscious. In Cut to Fortress (April), Tawahum Bige confronts colonialism, relationships, grief and intergenerational wounds. And bill bissett’s latest collection since breth, its th sailors life / still in treetment (February) is, using the poet’s own words, “an epik poetik novel uv langwage n speech” confronting “thos controlling effekts on us” and about “acceptans uv loss greef separaysyuns charaktrs in serch uv self liberaysyun n societal equalitee n all th forces against that path.”
In The Last Show on Earth (February), Yvonne Blomer gathers the diverse characters and distinct moments from everyday life, its tragedies, and triumphs, and begins to imagine them in a circus as side shows and exhibitions of the unusual. The Narrow Cabinet (May), by Asa Boxer, is a book about change, loss and the struggle to understand what the hell is going on in a world experiencing such rapid transformations. And Separation Anxiety (March), a poignant debut by Gavin Bradley, explores the emotional toll of different kinds of separation: from a partner, a previously held sense of self, or a home and the people left behind.
In Immune to the Sacred (April), Stephen Brockwell wonders whether we are inoculated against more than disease these days, exploring notions of the sacred to find meaning in the daily interactions with our loved ones in a breaking world, and critiquing the language of power. Synaptic (April), an intricate, yearning work from award-winning poet Alison Calder, asks us to think about the way we perceive and the ways in which we seek to know ourselves and others.
But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves (June), Conyer Clayton's follow-up to her award-winning debut, is a collection of prose poems employing surrealism, humour, and body horror to cope with CPTSD, assault, loss, fear, and the memories of it all. Nothing Will Save Your Life (April), by Nancy Jo Cullen, is an explosion of pop culture, femininity, sex, religion and motherhood held together with humour and lightened with fragments of joy. And Robert Currie’s Shimmers of Light: New and Selected Poems (May) uses the vernacular of ordinary working people to tell stories and sing songs of small-town prairie life.
In Lot (February), award-winning poet and essayist Sarah de Leeuw returns to the landscape of her early girlhood to consider the racial complexities of colonial violence in those spaces. The Sleep Orchard (April), by Amy Dennis, is written in response to the life and artwork of Arshile Gorky, mapping the differences as well as the deepening intersections between Gorky and the author, highlighting the complexities inherent in attempting to understand another's life and art. And You Still Look the Same (May) is a moving collection of poetry about navigating mid-life, full of humour and wit, from acclaimed novelist Farzana Doctor.
The poems in Un (March), by Ivan Drury, interrogate the subjectivity of a western revolutionary socialist’s early-21st-century masculinity against a backdrop of revolutionary legacies of moderate gains and terrible defeats. In Postmodern Weather Report (March), Kristian Enright expertly weaves critical theory with playful poetics to suffuse its space with reflections on science, semantics, pop culture, philosophy, and a blossoming emergence into new cultural awareness for a contemporary age.
Sarah Ens's second book of poetry, Flyway (April), traces connections between the Russian Mennonite diaspora and disrupted migratory patterns of grassland birds, returning to Manitoba's endangered tallgrass prairie in a meditation on the intergenerational impact of human and ecological trauma. In The Day-Breakers (April), poet Michael Fraser imagines the swords raised and lives lost by the thousands of Black soldiers who fought for the Union during the American Civil War—of whom hundreds were Canadian, fighting for the freedom of their African Brethren. And The Hands (June) is a paean to the iconic personalities Marty Gervais has met and written about during his career as both a poet and a journalist, including poems about such diverse characters as Muhammad Ali, Mother Teresa, Benjamin Spock, Norman Mailer, Karen Kain and Thomas Merton.
Lorna Goodison's first poetry collection to be published in Canada in over nine years is Mother Muse (April), heralding the return of a major voice. Fast Commute (March) is a powerful book-length poem on environmental destruction and the violence of colonial nation-states from Laurie D. Graham, the acclaimed author of Settler Education. And in a new edition of her powerful debut Bear Bones and Feathers (May), Plains Cree writer and National Poet Laureate Louise B. Halfe — Sky Dancer reckons with personal history within cultural genocide.
Luke Hathaway’s fourth collection, and first since Years, Months, and Days, a New York Times Best Poetry Book of 2018, The Affirmations (April) is a work of trans poetics in the most radical sense. Begun in motherhood, in an experience of birth as an experience of affirmation, and continued through Hathaway's transition, The Affirmations is a rerelationing with self and other, elder and myth. Governor General's Award finalist Brian Henderson’s latest collection is unfinishing (April), a dream book of kaleidoscopic, holographic, mutagenic poems. And in his debut full-length collection In the Blood (February), former City of New Westminster Poet Laureate Alan Hill delivers a deeply revealing and heartfelt depiction of a lifetime of mental illness—both his own and that of his brother.
Arborophobia (March), the latest collection by award-winning poet Nancy Holmes, is a poetic spiritual reckoning. Its elegies, litanies, and indictments concern wonder, guilt, and grief about the journey of human life and the state of the natural world. Infinity Network (April), by Jim Johnstone, not only attempts to capture the changing ideas of personhood, but also tries to create a new kind of verse to track it—a complex, bold, stark style able to give uncanny interiority to our digital dreads. Shaped by Daniel Sarah Karasik’s experience of grassroots social and political advocacy, the poems in Plenitude (April) are an offering to those engaged in struggles for a better world—and an acknowledgement of the sometimes contradictory meanings of those struggles.
Standing in a River of Time (January), by Jónína Kirton, unravels painful memories and a mixed-blood woman’s journey towards wholeness. Harbour Grids (April), by Zane Koss, is a long poem in four parts that investigates ideas of community and belonging, beginning as a meditation on the surface of New York Harbor and radiating outward through issues of labour, location, history, belonging, and subjectivity. And Shifting Baseline Syndrome (March), by Aaron Kreuter, is both searching and searing, veering between satire and sincerity, history and prophecy, and human and non-human worlds.
A poetic debut about gender-based violence, Horrible Dance (May), by Avery Lake, dismantles received definitions of both gender and violence, making an accomplished addition to transfeminist thought and theory. The Quiet in Me (April) is a posthumous collection of poetry from Patrick Lane, compiled and edited by Lorna Crozier. And set against a backdrop of shifting weather and a blasted, mysterious landscape, Cactus Gardens (June), the ninth collection by Evelyn Lau, explores the complexity and intensity of personal relationships.
In the poetic memoir Black Umbrella (April), Katherine Lawrence rides the electric charge of childhood innocence to its moment of impact with adult manipulation and betrayal. Nanci Lee's debut, Hsin (April), explores Fourth Century Su Hui's palindrome of longing, arising from an ancient Chinese ethical philosophy, less a set of moral standards than an appeal to tune. And meditating on exile, loss, diaspora, authoritarian law, and altered ecologies, Joanne Leow's debut collection seas move away (April) spans from the would-be Eden of hyper-planned and surveilled Singapore to an uneasy settling in the Canadian Prairies, seeking answers to the question of what is lost in intensive urban development and the journey across continents.
Michelle Lietz’s Occasionally Petty (April) takes lyrics from Tom Petty's songs to launch her exploration on themes of nostalgia, adolescence, and the poet's mixed Yaqui, European and Middle Eastern identity. Moving fluidly between prose poems and more fractured, open verse in Emanations (April), Prathna Lor meditates on voice, on disaster and on identity, pushing always against commodification and a consumable narrative. And rooted in the indescribability and disembodiment of pain, Nisa Malli’s Allodynia (April) looks outward to space and the future of humankind, as well as inward to the body.
Bearing witness to truth, The Tempest (March), by Ilona Martonfi, is invested in poetry that attempts to reveal human pain through the art of words. In her latest collection, Larder (May), Rhona McAdam navigates the dark places of human movement through the earth and the exquisite intricacies lingering in backyard gardens and farmlands populated by insects and pollinators, all the while returning to the body, to the tune of staccato beats and the newly discovered symmetries within the human heart. Created in moments snatched from chaos, the poems in rob mclennan’s the book of smaller (May) challenge the possibilities of language in very small spaces.
From internationally celebrated writer and visual artist Shani Mootoo comes Cane | Fire (March), an immersive and vivid collection that marks a long-awaited return to poetry. Conceived as an archive of wisdom written by a disabled man for his children, You May Not Take the Sad and Angry Consolations (April), by Shane Neilson, gives voice to the experience of living in an ableist society. And in Hail, The Invisible Watchman (April), Alexandra Oliver conjures, out of eerie atmospheres, the chilling social dilemmas of our time.
If books come from books, as David W. McFadden has claimed, then Arleen Paré's Time Out of Time (February) is a clear example, arising, very deliberately as it does, out of Etel Adnan's astonishing collection Time. Changing Residence (February), by Corrado Paina, gathers in one place, the trajectory of an artist who has remained curious, committed, and engaged with whatever "home" he happens to land in. Epekwitk (December) is the highly anticipated debut poetry collection of Mi'kmaq poems by Prince Edward Island's Poet Laureate, Julie Pellisier-Lush.
Honouring the complexities of Indigenous identity and the raw experiences of womanhood, mental illness, and queer selfhood, the poems in Michelle Poirier Brown’s You Might Be Sorry You Read This (March) reveal how breaking silences and reconciling identity can refine anger into something both useful and beautiful. Swollening (March), by Jason Purcell, is a tender debut poetry collection examining the queer, sick body as a reaction to an ill world and asks it how to move on toward hope. And from a darkly humorous perspective, Melanie Power’s Full Moon of Afraid and Craving (April) charts a young person’s navigation of narrow definitions of faith, femininity, and family.
Nevertheless (April) is the long-awaited second collection by award-winning poet Gillian Jerome, about rediscovery and reconnection in the centre of urban Vancouver. The poems in Catastrophe Theories (April), by Mari-Lou Rowley, reflect an increasingly unstable, surreal, and catastrophic world. And Noelle Schmidt plows through the distorted shrapnel of trauma dormant and still tingling in their debut collection Claimings and Other Wild Things (April).
Through the Eyes of Asunder (April), by Neal Shannacappo, is a poetic journey through the life of a person once broken, in heart, spirit, and mind. Almost Beauty (March) includes an introductory essay by editor and poet Ross Leckie, over 100 selected poems from Sue Sinclair’s 20-year career, and new poems that consider the poet’s evolving relationships with the idea of beauty and with the more-than-human world in a time of manufactured upheaval. And Unfuckable Lardass (January), by Catriona Strang, began as an attempt to refract and undercut an outrageous insult allegedly lobbed at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and is fuelled by the energy of grief and rage, counterpoised by moments of love and hope.
In Quiet Night Think (April), Gillian Sze moves between poetry and prose, mother and writer, the lyrical and the autobiographical, all the while inviting readers to meditate with her on questions of emergence and transformation. Anne Marie Todkill's Orion Sweeping (April) recalibrates the anxiety of the present, giving doubt a hearing, finding resilience in fragility and grace in unexpected places. And taking its title from Tomas Tranströmer, Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang’s Grappling Hook (April) sifts the debris of the 21st century for insights into identity, desire, and the everyday struggles inherent to motherhood.
Fugue with Bedbug (April), by Anne-Marie Turza, is part musical reference, part portraiture, a series of uncanny poems attending to time and mortality, an eccentric essay, and a musical score. A History of Touch (May), by Erin Emily Ann Vance, is a poetry collection about women in folklore and history who were ill, disabled, or otherwise labelled "hysteric." And Pheobe Wang’s second collection, Waking Occupations (March), contemplates our obligations to live in a creative, generative, and revolutionary way amid a cascade of global contingencies.
In Sanna Wani’s My Grief, The Sun (April), a vivid debut poetry collection, the body is the page, time is a friend and every voice, a soul. Expansive and enveloping, Shannon Webb-Campbell’s Lunar Tides (April) explores the primordial connections between love, grief, and water, structured within the lunar calendar. Natalie Wee’s Beast at Every Threshold (April) is a collection of poems deconstructing the notion of "otherness" through folklore and myth. And I Wish I Could be Peter Falk (February) is an intimate poetic interrogation of restrictive masculinity from award-winning author Paul Zits.
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