Winner of the 2017 Canadian Authors Award for Poetry
Finalist for the 2017 Pat Lowther Memorial Award
The Description of the World was the original title for Marco Polo's writings about his travels, but in describing the world, Polo also helped to create it. In this collection, Skibsrud asks: is our world really what it appears to be? How do we shape it through language? And if language can create our world, can it also transform or destroy it?
A sense of vastness permeates the poems. Vistas and open fields are created rather than described. In these spaces, Skibsrud confronts us with the question of our own annihilation: atomic warfare, nuclear fallout and apocalyptic imagery inspired by French artist Jean Tinguely's Study for an End of the World.
In turn, Skibsrud also addresses the subject of birth and renewal. In a final sequence of poems inspired by the birth of her daughter, we arrive at an understanding of ourselves in relation not only to the world we are born to, but to our role in a world we are still, and always, in the process of creating.
Johanna Skibsrud is the author of two previous collections of poetry, I Do Not Think that I Could Love a Human Being and Late Nights With Wild Cowboys; two novels, Quartet for the End of Time and the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning novel The Sentimentalists; and the short fiction collection This Will Be Difficult to Explain and Other Stories. An Assistant Professor of English at the University of Arizona, Skibsrud and her family divide their time between Tucson and Cape Breton.
"Skibsrud's poetry is best when it enacts these sorts of paradoxes, when 'eyes see sight, and know it is a wall.' She manages to be both straightforward and convoluted, and her poems have a meditative, thoughtful tone." - Winnipeg Free Press
"The Description of the World [...] opens wide essential vistas in the brain where thought is suffused with both deep attention and tenderness." - Marrow Reviews