The poetry we're looking forward to in the second half of 2022, with new work by Gary Barwin, Jan Zwicky, Daniel Scott Tysdale, Sally Ito, Joseph Dandurand, and more, plus exciting debuts.
In Sheets: Typewriter Works (October), Cameron Anstee’s extends the minimalist explorations of his award-nominated debut collection, Book of Annotations. Cage of Light, by Ned Baeck, uses a language of struggle and seeks through the food chains of human animal life, including episodes from literature and dream, for ways to see clearly what we foment as we go, and for what is there regardless. MONUMENT (September), by Manahil Bandukwala, upturns notions of love, monumentalisation, and empire by exploring buried facets of Mumtaz Mahal's story. And with uncanny wit, inventive beauty, and numinous surprise, Gary Barwin’s The Most Charming Creatures (September) explores the contemporary and its language, considering our wonder, sorrow, bewilderment, anxiety, and tenderness.
Stones to Harvest/Escarmouches de la Chair (October), a lyrical cycle of 47 poems, sets out the four seasons in remarkable and very concrete images drawn from the flora and fauna of Eastern Ontario and Southern Quebec, where Henry Beissel lived and worked. Surface Tension (September) updates visual poetry for our post-pandemic age, asking us rethink the verbiage around us, to imagine letters as images instead of text, to find meaning in their beautiful shapes, as Derek Beaulieu stretches, torques, slides, blurs, and melts them into Dali-esque collages. And Frances Boyle’s Openwork and Limestone (October) turns inward and outward at the same time, telling our multifarious collective human story so that it feels like our own intimate family history.
Carellin Brooks explores the regimens of academia and the discoveries of her own body through various BDSM sexual practices in Learned (November), a collection of poems asking who is the learner, and what is learned, whether in the penultimate scholastic setting or the dungeon. Passengers (August) is the sixth and most innovative poetry collection yet from Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist Michael Crummey. The Punishment (October) is the latest addition to the oeuvre of prolific Kwantlen writer Joseph Dandurand, whose stunning previous collection, The East Side of It All, was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize. And in and through literary experiments with word and sound, utterance and song, Vox Humana (September), by Adebe DeRango-Adem, considers the different ways a body can assert, recount, and proclaim, thus underscoring the urgency of doing so against the de-voicing effects of racism and institutional violence.
In Pronounced/Workable (September), by Candace de Taeye, many of the poems draw from pre-hospital care medical protocols, standards and legislative acts as well as colloquial quotes of patients, literary reference, graffiti, signage and other texts, working to mimic the fast paced collage and varied tonality that a 12 hour shift in the city produces. The poems in Justene Dion-Glowa's Trailer Park Shakes (October) are direct and vernacular, rooted in community—a working-class Métis voice rarely heard from. And Dissonance Engine (November), by David Dowker, is an exploration of time, cognition and loss; the intersection of dream and alternate reality amidst myriad systems of control.
In Postmodern Weather Report (September), Kristian Enright expertly weaves critical theory with playful poetics to suffuse this space with reflections on science, semantics, pop culture, philosophy, and a blossoming emergence into new cultural awareness for a contemporary age. Kim Fahner's Emptying the Ocean (October) is a poetic journey based on the ancient Irish immram tales—the soul voyages taken by a woman who moves mystically through the four elements and the spirited Otherworld. A Grief Cave (October) is a heartbreaking and life-affirming debut collection in which Ben Gallagher searches for the “secret face in the dark” of his partner who died suddenly nine years ago. And The Oysters I Bring to Banquets (October), Gary Geddes’s new collection of lyrics and poem-sequences ranges from whimsical poems about the building of a greenhouse to the struggle of characters in classical legends to cope with the interference of close relatives and extended family, the gods.
In his latest collection Bent Back Tongue (September), Secwépemc rancher and renowned poet Garry Gottfriedson explores the fraught mechanics of contemporary masculinity, politics and love. Part essay, part poem, part fever dream journal entry, Dream Rooms (October), by River Halen, is a book about personal revolution, about unravelling a worldview to make space for different selves and realities. Kate Hargreaves’ tend (October) is a visceral, playful collection that contemplates fracture—of the physical, and between people, times and places. And Fire Cider Rain (September), by Rhiannon Ng Cheng Hin, navigates the science of cold waterways to consider the warmth of the poet’s Chinese-Mauritian family ties.
In her fourth book of poetry, Heart’s Hydrography (September), Sally Ito traverses the complex channels and tributaries of a heart mapped by the ineffable pull of family and faith. Pilgrim to No Country (October) is the debut poetry collection by Anvesh Jain, reliving his childhood immigration from Delhi to Calgary over and over, reimagining home with humour and wisdom. Summoning images from the worlds of fashion, art, and therapy, and exploring the allure of pain and of suffering, The Program (September) is Megan Fennya Jones’s compelling debut about how we are seen, and how we see ourselves. And Icarus, Falling of Birds (September) pairs Thaddeus Holownia’s photography with the poetry of Harry Thurston, the burned and damaged bodies of the birds perpetually falling, while Thurston recounts their great migration: how “they wing like embroidery / through the drapery of fog that clings / to this coast” and of “a false star / burning bright,” that claims them.
In his commanding poetry debut, Wolf Sonnets (September), R. P. LaRose Indigenizes the sonnet, undoing its classical constraints and retooling the form for current political circumstances. Winner of the RBC/PEN Canada New Voices Award, Fareh Malik's debut collection Streams that Lead Somewhere (September), aims to explore the intersection between mental illness and social racialization. In his groundbreaking collection, Exit Wounds (September), Indo-Canadian poet Tariq Malik weaves together history and myth with his own family’s experiences of immigration to uncover what it truly means to belong. And in fierce, lonely and elegant lines Amber McMillan writes of violence, of the sea and of love in This Is a Stickup (September).
Catherine McNeil’s latest collection emily & elspeth (September) is a delightful romp through South America, the imagined inner-workings of Frida Kahlo’s relationship(s), and Vancouver bedrooms. Exculpatory Lilies (September), by Susan Musgrave, is the latest from the award-winning poet known for her bracing honesty and sharp yet compassionate gaze, a new collection of poems exploring life, marriage, addiction, death, and heart-wrenching grief. And with writing that is lyric, layered and deeply felt, the poems in A is for Acholi (September), by Otoniya J. Okot Bitek, unfold maps of history, culture, and identity, tracing a route to a present where the poet dreams of writing a world without empire.
Tyler Pennock's Blood (September) follows a Two-Spirit Indigenous person as they navigate urbanity, queerness, and a kaleidoscope of dreams, memory, and kinship. Durable Goods (September), by James Pollock, is a book of sharply imagined poems about everyday technology. A profound meditation on love, death, sex, and sickness, Robert Priest’s If I Didn’t Love the River (September) speaks directly to the polarizations of our time. In A Fierce and Tumultuous Joy: Poems New and Selected (October), David Adams Richards offers readers both his searing observations of and profound sympathy for those he writes of, be they his own family or animals, like the "dry doe" who will soon be at the mercy of the coyotes. And part memoir, part research project, The Big Melt (October) draws on Emily Riddle’s experience working in Indigenous governance and her affection for confessional poetry in crafting feminist works that are firmly rooted in place.
Wet Dream (September) vibrates with pleasures, fears, and medicines for living on a wet planet on fire, Erin Robinsong's poems enmeshing ecologies of body and planet, brain and ocean, moisture and consciousness. How to Hold a Pebble (October), Jaspreet Singh’s second collection, locates humans in the Anthropocene, while also warning against the danger of a single story. With vivid imagery and endless compassion for her subjects, Tanya Standish McIntyre’s words breathe life in the collection The House You Were Born In (October). Richard Stevenson exposes the neocolonial realities of so-called third world cultures in Bature! West African Haikai (September): the ingenuity of their peoples, their wicked humour and resourcefulness. And Scars and Stars (October) is a beautiful and moving collection of poems and stories from Jesse Thistle, author of the bestselling memoir From the Ashes.
oems (November), by Matthew Tomkinson,is a collection of thirty-six lipogrammatic poems composed entirely of flat words such as “sunrise” or “unconsciousness,” which contain no ascending or descending letters, proceeding from the author’s lived experience of OCD, leaning into obsessive-compulsive tendencies, attempting to exorcise them through overuse. Dale Tracy is a fresh, original voice in Canadian poetry, locking her startling surprises and beautiful enigmas in quiet but emphatic lines, and each poem in Derelict Bicycles (October) takes things too far, to the edges of its own form. And taking inspiration from Al Jaffee’s illustrated fold-ins in MAD magazine, Daniel Scott Tysdal’s The End Is In the Middle (September) explores living with mental illness through a new kind of poetry: the fold-in poem.
In Shapeshifters (October), Délani Valin explores the cost of finding the perfect mask through a lens of urban Métis experience and neurodivergence, taking on a series of personas in an act of empathy as resistance. Though they started from Sheryda Warrener’s impulse to see herself more clearly, the poems in Test Piece (September) ended up becoming more expansive meditations on seeing and vision. First Time Listener (October), by Jennifer Zilm, explores the ramped up 21st century digitalization of the social world, while reaching back to the most ancient of manuscript cultures. And Sixty-Seven Ontological Studies (October) is a double-stranded book of intense lyric reflections on the fundamental essences of things, Jan Zwicky's words and Robert V. Moody's photographs presented as fully co-equal, brought together in a resonant conversation, steeped in the pregnant silence of the living world.
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