Our 2023 Spring Preview continues with poetry, including exciting debuts, and new releases by celebrated writers including Gary Barwin, Anita Lahey, Catriona Wright, Rita Bouvier, and more.
Reissued in a magnificent new edition, Marshburning (April) is David Aranson's masterful long poem binding his Icelandic roots to the shore of Lake Winnipeg. To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Indigenous Voices Awards, the anthology Carving Space (May) consists of selected works by finalists over the past five years, edited by Jordan Abel, Carleigh Baker, and Madeleine Reddon. Uiesh / Somewhere (April) is a collection of short poems that speak directly to the reader, without artifice or pretension, arising from Joséphine Bacon’s experience as an Innu woman whose life has taken her from the nomadic ways of her Ancestors in the northern wilderness of Nitassinan, or Innu Territory, to the clamour and bustle of the city.
The poems in Britta Badour’s Wires that Sputter (March) are resonant and dazzling in this debut from an original creative force. Duck Eats Yeast, Quacks, Explodes; Man Loses Eye (May) is a collaboration by Gary Barwin and Lillian Necakov that considers many themes, including trauma, grief, anxiety, climate change, impending doom, war, illness, and cultural fragmentation, at its core, arguing for an unbridled creativity and beauty. And in The Suspect We (April), Roxanna Bennett and Shane Neilson collaborate to make a documentary poetics concerning pandemic conditions for the mad, neurodivergent, and disabled.
Entre Rive and Shore (March), by Dominique Bernier-Cormier, exhibits “an eloquence we aren’t attuned to,” a heady mix of English renderings of a single French poem, a Franco-fusion mélange of reflections on Acadian history and identity, and meditations on the evolution of language and the rapper Young Thug. Indie Rock (February), by Joe Bishop, candidly focuses on a queer poet/musician’s life in Newfoundland, and his personal struggles with addiction, OCD, and trauma. And in Hologram: Homage to P.K. Page (May), edited by Yvonne Blomer and DC Reid, Canadian poets honour the legacy of the internationally-acclaimed and influential poet.
Aaron Boothby’s debut collection, Continent (March), asks the question: how can we see, listen, and feel an ongoing catastrophe and look for what is beyond it? In Susan Braley’s Tilling the Darkness (February), a young woman born into a family of eleven navigates the inequities of gender roles on the farm and in the church. And Michelle Brown’s second book of poetry, Swans (April), begins as a night out between three best friends at an eponymous watering hole before becoming a phantasmagorical coming-of-age fable by closing time.
Rita Bouvier’s a beautiful rebellion (April) reaches one hand back to Louis Riel and one hand ahead to future Métis generations. An unnamed speaker navigates a world where God comes in the shape of a cardinal, speaks in the voice of Georgia O’Keeffe, and paints the desert with bones in Pascal’s Fire (April), by Kristina Bresnan. In The Ridge (March), Robert Bringhurst offers a work of nonfiction in poetic form, intensely focused on the ecological past, present and future of the West Coast of Canada. And a semi-autobiographical collection, Chores (April), by Maggie Burton, offers an historical snapshot of domestic life that views women’s labour, relationships, and sexuality through a feminist lens.
Veteran performance poet Spencer Butt’s new book is it is what it is, what is it (April), poems about life and ghouls and parenting and love and regret and freaking out. In Edward Carson’s provocative new work, the poetic moving parts of movingparts (February) confront and breathe new life into what’s true and what’s not in Aesop’s fable "The Fox and the Crow," as well as the shifting often fragmentary ground between what’s said and what’s not about identity and intimacy in Sappho’s lyrics. And the latest from Vera Constantineau, whose term as Poet Laureate of Sudbury ended in 2022, is Enlightened by Defilement (April), a collection of the Haibun poetic form, each piece representing a lesson learned.
In Dennis Cooley’s body works (April), the body is neither a site of conflict nor a place of spiritual weakness, but instead a vessel of experience that works in harmony with the intellect. Muster Points (June), by Lucas Crawford, is a frank discussion of pleasure, plain, nostalgia, desire, and health from a “fancy academic” who refuses to shy away from the blood and sweat of depression or the glorious fluids of queer sex. Heartsick, reverent, irreverent, and quietly political, Trinity Street (April) is the much-anticipated fifth collection from poet Jen Currin, winner of the Audre Lorde Award and a Lambda finalist.
House Within a House (May), by Nicholas Dawson, translated by David Bradford, is a meditation on the wiles of depression, illuminated by queer and diasporic experience. Had Charles Bukowski and Mary Karr birthed a literary bastard-child, it could have been Rodney DeCroo, whose latest is Fishing for Leviathan (May). Firmly rooted in fire-haunted landscapes that are at once psychological, emotional, and fiercely real, Patrick James Errington’s first collection, the swailing (April), traces the brittle boundaries between presence and absence, keeping and killing, cruelty and tenderness. And Sunny Ways (April), by ryan fitzpatrick, is an off-beat examination of the denials that underpin extractive capitalism.
Reckoning (May), by Patrick Friesen, is one long poem in search of itself, its own meaning, a synecdoche of verse, segments calling and responding to each other, like jazz musicians riffing back and forth in a late-night smoky speakeasy. Hollay Ghadery’s debut collection Rebellion Box (April) pushes against the limitations of gender roles, race, bodies and minds, and explores our insignificance and impotence in the universe. Irreverent and transcendent, lyrical and slang, Heating the Outdoors (March) is an endlessly surprising new work from award-winning poet Marie-Andrée Gill.
Sonja Ruth Greckol’s Monitoring Station (February) enters a slipstream of space and planetary language, circling time, embodying loss and longing, generating and regenerating in a faltering climate. Hannah Green’s edgy, often darkly comedic debut, Xanax Cowboy (April), is a long poem that considers the romanticization of addiction and mental illness (particularly in relation to the notion of the artist) via the romanticization of the Wild West. And what can it look like for poetry to bear witness? What might it feel like for a poem to keep company? A Different Species of Breathing: The Poetry of Sue Goyette (May), edited by Bart Vautour, offers an introduction to the work of a poet whose writing attends to these large and connected questions.
The Natural Hustle (March) is an inventive new collection of poems from Eva H.D., the author of Rotten Perfect Mouth. Spells, Wishes, and the Talking Dead: ᒪᒪᐦᑖᐃᐧᓯᐃᐧᐣ ᐸᑯᓭᔨᒧᐤ ᓂᑭᐦᒋ ᐋᓂᐢᑯᑖᐹᐣ mamahtâwisiwin, pakosêyimow, nikihci-âniskotâpân (March), by Wanda John-Kehewin, is a wonder, playing with form, space, and language, comparing meanings in English and nêhiyawêwin (Plains Cree), the reader’s attention drawn to the restrictive and imposed constructs of English grammar, the way it boxes in interpretation and cadence. And peering inside eyeballs, pondering the paradox of absent stars, and meditating on street scenes by André Kertész, the poems in Matthew Hollett's Optic Nerve (April) squint sidelong at our ways of seeing the world.
Considering PTSD and anxiety disorder as a kind of animal experience, a self-protective mechanism, the poems in Megan Kemp-Gee’s The Animal in the Room (May) embody the selves we see reflected in the natural world’s creatures. Métis Ukrainian writer Conor Kerr’s sharp and incisive poems move restlessly across landscapes and time in Old Gods (April). R. Kolewe’s A Net of Momentary Sapphire (April) offers three closely related poetic sequences, which are random recombinant rearrangements of a poignant but obsessively repetitive source text, streams of consciousness in which no stable self can be elucidated.
Sargasso Sea Scrolls (May), by Dannabang Kuwabong, is a Black poet's meditative, evocative journey to the Dutch Caribbean island Curacao, evoking slave experiences through historical remains, human memories, and his own associations with his native West Africa and current homes in Puerto Rico and Canada. At once a poetry collection, a story inspired by true events, and a visually stunning comic-book adventure, The Fire Monster (May), by Anita Lahey, illustrated by Pauline Conley, is a mixed genre story for the ages that explores the aftermath of tragedy, the frayed bonds of friendship and family, and redemptive power. And in While Supplies Last (April), Lahey also throws herself on the mercy of a changing climate, takes refuge in art and revels in everyday wonders.
Direct and humorous, Baby Book (April), by Amy Ching-Yan Lam, stacks story upon story to explore how beliefs are first formed. Annette Lapointe's poetry collection swim / into the north's blue eye (April) explores the gothic anxieties and bodily discomforts of constant travel, with some of its journeys global, but many more regionally oriented: from one prairie city to another, between small towns, from city to cottage-country, from prairie to coast. And T. Liem’s Slows: Twice (May) is a double book of mirrored poems about identity in all its forms.
archipelago (April), the debut poetry collection from Laila Malik, traces fragments of family, becoming and unbecoming against the shifting shorelines of loss, multigenerational migration, and (un)belonging. From the bitumen hills of Fort McMurray to the barren reaches of Iceland, Alice Major’s Knife on Snow (April) shows us an earth bathed in dragon's breath, and like the Norse gods bound to their fate, we stand transfixed by the reaping of our actions, both driver /and passenger—part-cause / part-witness of earth's unwinding. And Oldman’s River (May), by Sid Marty, brings together old and new poems, published and unpublished works, in a celebration of the career and artistry of a Western Canadian icon.
The Vanishing Act (& The Miracle After) (June), by Mirabel, is an existential meditation on grief—the kind of grief which pins you down and minimizes you. Remedies for Chiron (April), by m. patchwork monoceros, is a collection of poems that journey through the days of a young, queer, Black, and newly disabled poet trying to find a place to root and exist in the entirety of those intersections. Written as a sequence of “ghost ekphrastics” (poems inspired by works of art that neither the poet nor most living people have ever seen), Frank’s Wing (April), by Jacob McArthur Mooney, constructs a whole world of lost or destroyed artifacts that have been rearticulated and resurrected, brought back to life by a fictional property baron as a dying gift to Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario.
Sadie McCarney’s Your Therapist Says It’s Magical Thinking (April) is a buoyant second collection that playfully navigates the turbulent waters of life with mental illness and neurodivergence. The culmination of a brilliant career, translated into fluent and thrilling English by Donald Winker, The Four-Doored House (April) is Pierre Nepveu's most enduring work yet. And Erin Noteboom's A knife so sharp its edge cannot be seen (April) takes exact and exquisite measurement of what carries a voice through illness, grief, loss, and through the failures and triumphs of work and love.
Through a kaleidoscope of philosophy, critical theory, and folk theology, A Devil Every Day (April), by John Nyman, surveys the terrain where white Western culture blends into pure evil. The poems in Sasenarine Persaud’s Mattress Makers (May) pay homage to writers V S Naipaul, Sam Selvon, and Peter Nazareth, and evoke calypso, reggae, and Bollywood as well as Indian festivals and gods. Embarking on a remote, two-week-long horse expedition through isolated backcountry, knee deep in high water (May), by Bronwyn Preece, bears witness to the healing properties of the trail.
Discipline n. v. (May), by Concetta Principe, is a lyric memoir that fuses poetry and academic theory, speaking to the metaphorical power of humanities scholarship. In New Songs for Orpheus (April), John Reibetanz updates Ovid’s poetry; as Ovid’s words showed him to be a person of deep empathy for natural, animal, and human worlds, so Reibetanz posits that the Roman writer would likely be eager to take account of all that we have learned about them in the past two thousand years. And we're huge fans of Kerry Ryan and therefore thrilled about her first book in a while, her third collection Diagnosing Minor Illnesses in Children (April).
Following his New York Times Best of the Year Dark Woods, Richard Sanger's fourth collection Way to Go (April) is a clear-eyed and big-hearted chronicle of terminal illness and a joyful inventory of the passions of a life well lived. The ambitious second instalment of Renée Sarojini Saklikar’s epic fantasy saga-in-verse is The Heart of This Journey Bears All Patterns (April), featuring the time-travelling demigoddess Bramah, a locksmith and the saga’s hero. And Kate Siklosi’s selvage (April) is a "poethic" of leaving: of falling away, of stitching back together, of beginning again, of allowing to be.
Eva Tihanyi’s Circle Tour (May) is, in the words of Rona Maynard, “a lyrical, big-hearted celebration of what it takes to remain whole and hopeful, come what may.” Refabulations (March) collects and reanimates the longer and serial poems from Sharon Thesen’s oeuvre, from her first book in 1980 to today. In A thin fire runs through me (March), Kim Trainor interrogates what it means to exist, to navigate the quotidian amidst the constant drip-feed of political and ecological disasters. And in there’s more (March), Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike takes on the rich concepts of home and belonging: home lost and regained, home created with others and with the land, home as “anywhere we find something to love.”
Chatty Cathy, while not the first talking doll, was certainly the most widely known, and The Decline and Fall of the Chatty Empire (March), by John Emil Vincent, an unauthorized chronicle of her later career, luridly illustrates the perils of reaching such linguistic heights with so very little to say. Love Is a Place But You Cannot Live There (April), by Jade Wallace, is a book deeply concerned with psychogeography, the ways that individuals and environments mutually shape one another.
Catriona Wright’s Continuity Errors (May) is a collection of feminist poems both serious and absurd that question our obsession with productivity instead of with care. More Sure (March) by A. Light Zachary is a book of poems and interruptions, recording instances of love, self-realization, and recovery in non-binary, queer, and autistic lives. And from Governor General’s Award-winning poet David Zieroth comes the trick of staying or leaving (March), a new collection about history, connections and travels in Europe.
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