Sukun (September)—Arabic for stillness or rest, as well as being a diacritic that indicates there is no vowel to pronounce following a consonant—is a generous selection from Kazim Ali’s six full-length collections. Murmuration is the metaphor that best describes the collection Murmuration: Marianne’s Book (September), by John Baglow, individual poems moving together in liquid formation, arcing and swooping as they will, and for perhaps just a singular moment assuming the outline of the author, helplessly ever-changing. And Uiesh / Somewhere (October) consists of short poems that speak directly to the reader, without artifice or pretension, and arise 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.
Alternator (October) by Chris Banks is a masterful poetry collection that blends catastrophe and consciousness, modern living and past transgressions, off-kilter imagery and the “hidden room” of the unsayable to construct a polyphonic triumph. Some poems in andrea bennett's the berry takes the shape of the bloom (October) bear witness; others hold grudges or shake free of them, and together, they entwine around enmeshed experiences of gender, family, trans pregnancy, abuse, fear, and becoming. And Brandi Bird's frank, transcendent poetry in the long-anticipated debut collection The All + Flesh (August) explores the concepts of health, language, place, and memory.
A Possible Trust (September) is a selection of Ronna Bloom's poetry by poet and editor Phil Hall. In Stedfast (September), breaking open John Keats’s “Last Sonnet,” Ali Blythe writes marginality into the canon, at once claiming, reviving, and un-fixing the Romantic vision. In Burn Diary (October), Joshua Chris Bouchard’s debut collection, the reader is immersed in a dark and visceral world, which is both natural and deeply unnatural. Bottom Rail on Top (September), by D.M. Bradford, is a rolling call and response between antebellum Black history and the present that mediates it. And in Before Combustion (June), Nicholas Bradley writes of the challenges of living with attentiveness and curiosity in a time of atmospheric rivers and forest fires, of heat domes and landslides, and of the struggle to reconnect our domestic worlds to greater cycles of place and time.
States of Emergency (October), by Yoyo Comay, is a book-length poem about the apocalyptic present, written in a language whose meaning is liquid and full of slippage, always spilling out from its container. Another Order: The Selected Works (November) gathers a dynamic and aesthetically diverse selection of Judith Copithorne’s writings, drawings, and hybrid publications from over fifty years of her practice. Lorna Crozier’s latest, After That (September), is a book written from the dark hollow we fall into when we lose those we love. The poems in act normal (September), by nancy viva davis halifax, use illegibility and wilful uncertainty to evade the grasp of the normative, as endured by those institutionalized by, and through, the concept of normalcy. And in Poems for a Phantom Lover (July), by Jennifer Dickson, sunlight caresses the timeworn fountains, pagodas and loggias populated by gods and idols, while ill winds rasp among the altars and monuments whose stones are steeped in blood.
Burning Sage (September) shares Meghan Fandrich’s deeply personal story of the Lytton, BC, fire, the ensuing trauma, and the path out of it, the poems following the arc of shock, fear, and anger, and the impossibility of single parenting in a burned-up town. In his third collection of verse, Quicker Than The Eye (September), Joe Fiorito continues to craft short, sharp poems that define the harder edges of urban life. And Cathedral/Grove (September), Susan Glickman's new collection, comes to terms with the question of legacy—what we leave behind as a species, as citizens, and as parents.
Ariel Gordon and Brenda Schmidt’s Siteseeing (October) is a collaborative poetry collection about birds and trees, and the climate crisis as it manifested, and about moose and mushrooms, pronghorns and wild turkeys, and people making their way through it all. In Tumbling for Amateurs (September), Matthew Gwathmey reimagines an instructional text on tumbling as poems about the amateurishness of being human. And in She Who Lies Above (November), Beatriz Hausner brings Hypatia of Alexandria, the fourth century Byzantine mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher, to life through layered ventriloquism: publishing amorous correspondence from the feminist icon’s friend and former student, Synesius the Cyrene, and scribing Hypatia’s replies in turn.
Jess Housty’s Crushed Wild Mint (October) is a collection of poems embodying land love and ancestral wisdom, deeply rooted to the poet’s motherland and their experience as a parent, herbalist and careful observer of the patterns and power of their territory. In Love Language (September), his follow-up to SKY WRI TEI NGS, Nasser Hussain tackles the absurdity of the English language through a modern take on love poems. A strong theme of journeys is threaded through Marlene Hynes’ Take the Compass (September), where, in a sense, every poem is itself a journey—into the past or the present, or toward what we hope and fear for the future.
Earthy, magical, and steeped in ancestral connection, Roshan James fuses her lived experience as a Tibetan-Indian born in Scarborough, Ontario, with a tangible connection to nature, humanity, and realms of consciousness in Pink Moon (September). Written after a brain tumour diagnosis early in the pandemic, The King of Terrors (September), by Jim Johnstone, is a meditation on living with illness and the forces required to heal. And Istvan Kantor’s Jeremiad (October) is an autobiographic assemblage of text and images, composed from short segments of semi-fictional episodes from the author’s life, from rhapsodic curtain-raisers to revolutionary manifestos via machine-beat poetry, Neoist propaganda flyers, film scripts, essays, protest songs, performance documents, and sketches.
Joy Kogawa’s From the Lost and Found Department (November) is a career-spanning volume that brings together new and selected works by an iconic voice in Canadian literature. Intensive and extensive, aboutness (September), by Eimear Laffan, convenes across geographies and temporalities, in conversation with interlocutors living and dead, real and imagined. And Sigrene’s Bargain with Odin (October), by Zoë Landale, contemplates the age-old quandary of where our loyalties lie, and how to act with integrity to find peace in a troubled world.
Award-winning poet Christopher Levenson returns with his fourteenth collection, Moorings (October), a profound exploration of aging, loss and friendship. Eclectic, darkly fascinating, and at times apocalyptic, Only Insistence (September), by James Lindsay, is a protean book where lines and phrases echo back on each other, where images of the natural world are bookended by investigations that delve deep into memory. And D.A. Lockhart's North of Middle Island (September) opens with a collection of individual poems that capture the spirit of the relatively isolated, sparsely populated community of Pelee Island, the pieces exploring contemporary Indigenous experience in the natural and built environments of the island and surrounding waters.
Part family history, part scientific exploration, Elementary Particles (October), by Sneha Madhavan-Reese, examines the world through the lens of a daughter grieving the loss of her beloved father. In Kink Bands (September), his second book of poems, David Martin digs deep into an examination of the world using the lens of geology. In One Sweet Moment (October), Bruce Meyer recalls his childhood, honours poets who have made instances of insight into meaning, and recalls the grief and joy of living. Motherhood, trauma, and familial history are woven together in Building a Nest from the Bones of My People (October), by Cara-Lyn Morgan, the award-winning author of What Became My Grieving Ceremony.
Theophylline (August) is a work of poetry motivated by asthma, seeking poetry’s futurity in a queer and female heritage, Erín Moure crossing a border to engage the poetry of three American modernists—Muriel Rukeyser, Elizabeth Bishop, and Angelina Weld Grimké—as a translator might enter work to translate it, but what if that work is already in English? Award-winning poet Arleen Pare’s latest collection, Absence of Wings (October), is both an intimate family portrait and a public documentation of how we, as a society, can fail to protect our children. And award-winning poet Barbara Pelman presents a life lived in poetry, delving into the small moments and spaces containing the greatest offerings of love, hope and possibility in A Brief and Endless Sea (October).
Drawing on his own experiences as a teenager and young adult in and out of the Canadian prison system, Bradley Peters has written both a personal reckoning and a damning and eloquent account of our violence—and enforcement—obsessed capitalist and patriarchal cultures in Sonnets from a Cell (September). Nikki Reimer's No Town Called We (October) writes through the death of elders, societal panic, and the climate crisis via the lens of the multiply disabled, female-coded body approaching midlife. With Vixen (October), Griffin Poetry Prize finalist Sandra Ridley offers a breathtaking, harrowing immersion in cruelty behind different veils: the medieval hunt, ecological collapse, and intimate partner violence. And People You Know, Places You've Been (October), the latest poetry and artwork collection from Hana Shafi, examines the unlikely connections we make to the people and places we encounter.
Confessional and immersive, Michael V. Smith’s Queers Like Me (October) explores growing up queer and working class, then growing into an urban queer life. A long poem in six sections, Dream House (October), by Cathy Stonehouse, takes its cue from Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space in its investigation of female embodiment by calling up such feral, liminal spaces as the pregnant body, the aging mind, snail shells, broom closets, low-ceilinged pubs and abandoned pizza boxes. Kai Cheng Thom’s Falling Back in Love With Being Human (August) is a transformative collection of intimate and lyrical love letters that offer a path toward compassion, forgiveness, and self-acceptance. With intense lyricism, Russell Thornton records his imaginative movement between the element of water, waking to “the aloneness of water,” and the phenomenon of light, comprehending “light” as “fate” and “love” as “memory of light,” in the process highlighting how hard lives can manifest beauty and affirmation in The White Light of Tomorrow (September). And the poems in Ultramarine (July), by Harry Thurston, explore our relationship with the passage of time, both as individuals and as a species.
The mask has become emblematic of the 2020 pandemic, and is also an important symbol of Japanese classical culture and tradition, and for Terry Watada in Masks (September), not only conceals but reveals hidden truths of the bearer. Farhang (September) honors the people, places, and things Patrick Woodcock has seen while working as a migrant writer, volunteer, and teacher for almost three decades. And the poems in Ami Xherro’s Drank, Recruited (October) stem from a fascination with the disembodied voice and how it dispels through space, vibrating off bodies and objects.
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