In the title poem of Kayla Czaga’s sophomore collection, a teenage speaker is suspended between knowledge and experience, confidently hovering there before the world plunges her into adult life. Dunk Tank reimagines the body as a strange and unknowable landscape: full of cancers that “burst like blackberries,” a butt that could run for prime minister of Canada, and the underworld lurking in Winona Ryder’s pores. Clouds become testicles and uteri turn into goldfish, flickering and fragile, but still ultimately glowing. These poems explore the varied and strange relationships that underpin a young woman’s coming of age, from inconsequential boyfriends to the friendships that rescue us from “grey daily moments.” Unsure of how the world works and her part in it, Czaga forges a landscape of metaphor and gleaming, dense imagery. Dunk Tank is playful and dark, comic and disturbing.
KAYLA CZAGA is the author of one previous collection of poems, For Your Safety Please Hold On (Nightwood Editions, 2014), and the chapbook Enemy of the People (Anstruther Press, 2015). Her work has been awarded the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and the Canadian Authors Association’s Emerging Writer Award and has been nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, and the Debut-litzer. She lives in Victoria, B.C.
PRAISE FOR KAYLA CZAGA AND DUNK TANK
“Seemingly effortless but brimming with craft, Czaga’s art results from her enviable agility with phrasing and expression. The poems in Dunk Tank are as immediate, honest, affectionate, raw, anxious, jokey, and thoughtful as an impromptu confession over an evening’s confab. Sparkling with recollection’s rich details, associative leaps, colloquial doses of energy and imaginative reach, Dunk Tank is exhilarating.” — David O’Meara, author of A Pretty Sight
“What a profound, effortless spell Kayla Czaga conjures with this collection. In communion with an array of private and public selves, these poems convince me authentic connection is possible. Desirous and impulsive, problematic as any one of us, the speaker never exempts herself from the world she tallies in tacos, panties, inherited stress, taps on Instagram posts, seagulls heaped like Kleenex. When she confesses ‘it felt / like we could say and finally mean / something,’ I’m enlivened, senses heightened, as if my name is being called by someone who never calls me by my name.” — Sheryda Warrener, author of Floating Is Everything
PRAISE FOR KAYLA CZAGA AND FOR YOUR SAFETY PLEASE HOLD ON
Winner, Gerald Lampert Memorial Award
Finalist, Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry
Finalist, Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize
Finalist, Debut-litzer Prize
“Funny, smart, sophisticated, guileless: reading Czaga is like drinking a glass of water in a desert. Every once in a while there arrives a young poet whose astonishing aptitude for the craft rises so clearly, so beautifully, the relief is palpable. For Your Safety Please Hold On is Czaga’s answer to Moure’s Domestic Fuel and Solie’s Short Haul Engine . . . and like Moure and Solie we don’t need to expect great things from her. Great things are already here.” — Elizabeth Bachinsky, author of the Governor General’s Literary Award finalist Home of Sudden Service
“Kayla Czaga’s For Your Safety Please Hold On recalls what was radical about Robert Lowell’s Life Studies a half century ago. With wit and empathy, it moves beyond the confessional to reclaim the intimate and personal as an adventurous subject for poetry. Reading it is like being brought into someone’s home and told all the family secrets — never an imposition, it feels rather like an initiation into the clan. I thoroughly enjoyed it.” — Paul Vermeersch, author of Don’t Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something
“Kayla Czaga’s For Your Safety Please Hold On moves line by flawless line along an arc in | from broken bodies through re | construction into troubled and troubling metaphor. In this first collection, which offers the reader a growth project, a deeply embodied girl child and young woman meets her world (personal and literary) with sly and contemplative thought that experiments with itself. Czaga unfurls experience, observation and development with complexity and more than a little humour suspending a reader between this page's moment of assurance and the next moment's unsettling observation. This work is a thrill.” — Gerald Lampert Memorial Award Jury Citation