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My Interests Are Matter

A recommended reading list by the author of the new book Asterisms.

Book Cover Asterisms

Three copies of Asterisms are up for giveaway until the end of March.

Head over to our giveaways page for your chance to win, and to check out everything else we've got on offer.


A child of settlers, I grew up in rural northeast BC on Treaty 8 Territory before corporate farming and oil and gas extraction took over much of the landscape. Exposed to the other-than-human world more than the human world, my childhood connection to nature and the recognition that humans are nature continue to drive my poetry, as does a curiosity about how the natural world works. You could say my interests are matter—matter as it relates to the material world and matter as a philosophical quest—what does it mean to be in this world? Artists, philosophers, and scientists share a desire to ask these questions, to observe and to create, and my favourite poetry makes use of these disciplines. In each of the following books, there is a keen intellect that drives the poets’ curiosity, where the thoughts and ideas that emerge feel distilled to a clarity and specificity that makes the writing tangible, adding to my understanding of the material world as well as interior/philosophical worlds. These books get inside me; they make me feel like I am a part of their conversations.


Book Cover Lent

Lent, by Kate Cayley

Few books have drawn me in as immediately as Kate Cayley’s Lent. Manoeuvring through the domestic world as well as the world of art and artists, Cayley’s concise, to-the-point tone and philosophical heart completely enamoured me. While the natural world is often addressed as alien, sometimes frightening, Cayley does not shy away from the poems’ obvious disconnections between humans and the rest of the natural world. It is unabashed writing, both startling and haunting in its honesty.


Bok Cover Crushed Wild Mint

Crushed Wild Mint, by Jess Housty

Jess Housty is of Heiltsuk (Indigenous) and mixed settler heritage, and her poems in Crushed Wild Mint are as close as one gets to reminding us that we are nature. Each poem filled me with wholeness and wonder that worked like a balm, as if I were dissolving into the world’s beauty or it into me, or both. If you have had an over-teched, anxious day, these gorgeous poems might save you (perhaps this is one of the reasons why Housty’s book has remained on the BC Bestsellers list for months, a rare thing for poetry).


Book Cover Knife on Snow

Knife on Snow, by Alice Major

Alice Major is a poet I’ve long admired for the way she integrates science and poetry. Her poems give me pings of joy as she intertwines the concrete details of an experience with her vast scientific knowledge. It’s exhilarating. The poems in Knife on Snow address the calamities of climate change and the perilous state of the natural world, but they also bring hope, clarity, and acceptance.


Book Cover Theophylline

Theophylline: A Poetic Migration, by Erín Moure

Poet and translator Erín Moure is one of the most playful, intelligent, and experimental poets. Theophylline: A Poetic Migration continues this marvellous tradition with what Moure calls “essai-poetry.” In this book, she examines the work of three American modernists who have a relationship with “elsewhere” while weaving her own formation inside this space, probing the ways in which we can be deemed, physically and psychically, questionable. Moure’s writing, with its inventiveness, philosophical thinking and unwavering empathy, lifts me up.


Book Cover Villa Negativa

Villa Negativa, by Sharon McCartney

In Villa Negativa, Sharon McCartney continues her tradition of writing of the domestic with searing honesty, wry humour, and a brilliance that makes her poems both accessible and deeply philosophical. The force of her writing is addictive, and I was sorry to reach the end of this book. As a result, I’ve read it several times.


Book Cover Almost Beauty

Almost Beauty: New and Selected Poems, by Sue Sinclair

I have been reading Sue Sinclair’s work since she began publishing, and the poems in Almost Beauty span her twenty-year career while including some new poems. Her work has made me feel, to use Emily Dickinson’s words, “physically as if the top of my head were taken off.” Using individual objects as entries into understanding the world as a whole, Sinclair’s poetry is one of the best examples I know where keen observations of the natural world together with distilled, precise language and philosophical thought can make the reader not only feel a part of the conversation but changed by it.


Book Cover How to Hold a Pebble

How to Hold a Pebble, by Jaspreet Singh

Jaspreet Singh’s love of the natural world is always evident in his work, and in How to Hold a Pebble, he brings a deep, philosophical intelligence to that world. Taking the smallest object or moment, and, often with a sense of playfulness, Singh instills it with wisdom and empathy, each word chosen so carefully that, at times, the complexity of thought emerging from such brevity took my breath away. Singh’s new book of poems, Dreams of the Epoch and The Rock, is forthcoming this fall, and I’ll be first in line for a copy.


Book Cover The Experience of Meaning

The Experience of Meaning, by Jan Zwicky

Every book, essay, or poem I have read by Jan Zwicky (and I’m pretty sure I’ve read them all) has felt like being thrown a life raft. Choosing one book is hard, but The Experience of Meaning, while prose, has all the things I love about Zwicky’s work—incomparable intelligence, a connection to the material world that is profound, and a philosophy that, in its revelations of the gestalt and the power of the lyric, provide a way of apprehending the world that has never felt more critical. 


Book Cover Asterisms

Learn more about Asterisms:

An eclectic collection of poems that celebrates the universe and the natural world of which we are all a part.

Reflecting on subjects ranging from Comet NEOWISE to swallowtail butterflies to The Incredible Hulk, Kane’s new book is a thought-provoking follow up to her last collection, Orrery. Diverse in tone and subject matter, mixing humour and wonder, the poems in Asterisms take readers on a soul-stirring journey through the expansiveness of space and the interconnectedness of all life on earth.

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