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Poetry Women Authors

Dream House

A Poem

by (author) Cathy Stonehouse

Nightwood Editions
Initial publish date
Oct 2023
Women Authors, Canadian, Death
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2023
    List Price

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A long poem in six sections, Dream House takes its cue from Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space in its investigation of female embodiment, calling up such feral, liminal spaces as the pregnant body, the aging mind, snail shells, broom closets, low-ceilinged pubs and abandoned pizza boxes. Part Tardis, part townhouse, part Howl’s Moving Castle, this wry, surreal and many-peopled narrative interrogates what metaphor might hold of history, both personal and social, after a mother’s passing. Its migrant speaker trawls through hedgerows and recipe books to unearth stained birdsong and undead civil wars, tracing a matrilineal path across four generations while traversing the haunted margins between existence and belonging.

About the author

Cathy Stonehouse was a teenager in the UK when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Opening salvos in April 1982 would go on to become a 74-day war over who owned the British-held territory in the southernmost reaches of the Atlantic Ocean. Stonehouse, a young peace activist, was deeply affected by living in a country at war, one that seemed to happen only on television. Thirty years later, she began work on The Causes. This complex and unsettling debut novel follows the young Argentine conscript José Ramirez from his torture on the bleak plains of the Falklands, back into his childhood in pre-revolution Argentina, and forward across continents as he grapples with the loss of his father and his country as he knew it. When Carlos Ramirez is taken by force from his apartment, leaving behind only a pair of broken glasses, his son, Jose, is left with unanswerable questions. Questions which become even more existentially threatening after Jose is sent to the Malvinas to fight an impossible war. What does it mean to the world that's left, when an animal, or a human, disappears? Mysterious, gripping, poetic and magic-realist,The Causes is a love story for a threatened planet, set in Argentina, Spain, the UK and the South Atlantic.

Cathy Stonehouse's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“From the British nightmare to the shores of British Columbia, there’s something deeply unwholesome going on in the details of this Dream House. Stonehouse nails what it’s like to bring ghosts who will not rest from one hallucinatory place to the next. “Sit down, whispers the Pacific. You are not from here/ Stand up, whispers the Atlantic. You are not from here...” This is a deeply affecting collection you will not want to miss—and will certainly not forget.”

Elizabeth Bachinsky, author of <i>The Hottest Summer in Recorded History</i>

“In Dream House, Cathy Stonehouse trips the latch to a secret door, exposing a network of hidden passages ‘shiny with private meaning.’ Amidst the very real furnishings—tea towel, ceramic hen, nursery rhyme, commemorative plate, a mechanical contraption for slicing eggs—these shifting interiors bewilder and estrange until ‘everything has been refurbished.’ This book is an enchantment, conjured by an imaginative and deeply original poet who knows intuitively that ‘what matters when transcribing are the elisions…’”

Sheryda Warrener, author of <i>Test Piece</i>

Cathy Stonehouse’s Dream House, like any magical dwelling, is not what it at first appears to be. Walk inside. Explore its rooms. It is larger and more expansive than you might think. Also stranger, more peculiar, idiosyncratic. It is a metaverse of possibilities, the locus where what is lived intersects with what is imagined. As Stonehouse herself puts it, “The house is a cocoon, an open coffin. It is full of weather, and changes / every time you dare to look.” Open the door. Close your eyes. The operative word is not house but dream. Look around. You are already there.

Paul Vermeersch, author of <em>Shared Universe: New and Selected Poems 1995–2020</em>

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