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Poetry General

Broken Dawn Blessings


by (author) Adam Sol

ECW Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2021
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2021
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2021
    List Price

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Trillium Book Award–winning poet Adam Sol’s newest collection is made up of poems that are loosely linked to the traditional Jewish morning prayers, the Birkhot haShachar, which try to find moments of blessing in the midst of personal and public pain, shame, and worry

How do we respond to others’ pain, both the pain of those we love and the larger global pain of those we don’t know? In a religious context, a witness can offer blessing when those in the midst of suffering cannot. Taking on the responsibility of blessing, then, is a way to shoulder that burden for the sufferer. This presupposes the idea that blessing is a necessity — which may be a point up for debate.

In the context of his wife’s recovery from surgery, and with civic violence prevalent in his city, the speaker of these poems leans on the structure of the Birkhot haShachar (dawn blessings) to carve out space for empathy, complaint, and occasional flashes of wonder. These poems showcase Sol’s trademark blend of humor and lyric virtuosity, and display his familiarity with Jewish texts and traditions, but add a new intimacy and urgency that break new ground for one of Canada’s most respected poets. It is his most risky and most accomplished collection to date.

About the author

Adam Sol has published four collections of poetry, the latest of which, Complicity, was released in 2014. His previous collections include Jeremiah, Ohio, a novel in poems that was shortlisted for the Trillium Award for Poetry; Crowd of Sounds, which won the Trillium Award for Poetry; and Jonah’s Promise. He has published fiction, scholarly essays, and reviews for a variety of publications, including the Globe and Mail, Lemon Hound, and He teaches at Laurentian University’s campus in Barrie, Ontario, and lives in Toronto with his wife, Rabbi Yael Splansky and their three sons.

Adam Sol's profile page


  • Winner, Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature
  • Short-listed, Raymond Souster Award
  • Winner, Canadian Jewish Literary Award
  • Short-listed, Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry

Excerpt: Broken Dawn Blessings: Poems (by (author) Adam Sol)

Frees the Captive

מתיר עסורים…

A gypsy moth flutters my cup
of reconstituted orange drink.

Last night a raccoon was flattened
by a patrolling armored personnel carrier.
One of us is going to have to spatula
the carcass into a dumpster
that isn’t burning.

The scan revealed
only that she has
a long repair horizon.

It’s true the lyric is merely
an instrument of escape
like a shiv filed
from a plastic spork.

On my deaf neighbor’s land,
the cubs are screaming in a tree.

Editorial Reviews

“This vulnerable, heartbreaking, witty, kind, sometimes angry, and always honest book masterfully and generously intertwines private and public concerns. As his beloved ‘drifts from room to room,’ recovering from cancer surgery, the speaker goes deeper into his own mind, to find poems that do the necessary work of clarifying our complexities. This book is a treasure for all of us as we struggle and love.” — Matthew Zapruder, author of Why Poetry and Father’s Day

“In your hand is a manifest of wrecked words haunting a city’s fratricidal concerns. What is true of impermanence and grief in these dawns are lucid doors that aim to breach the need of a world wrinkled by violence and fear. But, also, here is awe.” — Canisia Lubrin, winner of the Windham Campbell and Griffin Poetry Prizes and author of The Dyzgraphxst

“Through the framework of a beloved’s illness and a city’s violence, these poems meet head-on forces both private and public that threaten vitality and well-being. They are offerings at the doorway of pain, insights of ferocious tenderness given with committed attention to the extraordinary and the everyday. Deeply felt and rendered with care, Adam Sol’s poem-blessings are honest, risky, and necessary.” — Raymond Souster Award shortlist announcement

“This is a masterful work searching personal and public pain and moments of blessing, joy, and wonder. It showcases Adam Sol’s deep understanding of Jewish traditions and culture while its lyric virtuosity connects us in an appreciation of our shared humanity. With this volume, he again proves himself to be an important voice in Canada’s literary scene and one of its most significant poets.” — Canadian Jewish Literary Awards winner announcement

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