Joanna emigrated to Canada from the UK and continues to maintain a number of connections there; there has been interest for festivals there to have her over in the new year to promote Endlings.
She has already been invited to the South Downs Poetry Festival (UK), summer 2020, Wild Words North, northern BC, September 2020, and The Bakehouse, Scotland (2020 if timing works out)
"Specimen" was the winning entry for the 2019 Planet in Peril Poetry Competition.
Joanna Lilley is an award-winning poet living in Whitehorse. Born in the UK, Joanna has always been drawn north, crossing the Arctic Circle twice, before settling in the Yukon. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including The Malahat Review and Grain. Endlings is her third collection of poetry.
THE FLEECE ERA was nominated for the Fred Cogswell Award For Excellence In Poetry (2015) and WORRY STONES (then The Gallachists) longlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award (2016) and the Fish Young Adult Novel Prize. "Specimen" was the winning entry for Planet in Peril Poetry Competition (2019) and she was a finalist for The Malahat Review Open Season Awards, poetry (2018)
Joanna is a true adventurer: she has cycled across Canada alone from Nova Scotia to Inuvik in the NWT, nearly 10,000 km, in 1991. She also worked her passage across the Atlantic Ocean, hitching on yachts from Gibraltar to the West Indies via Morocco and Madeira, 1985. Joanna stopped eating animals on her thirteenth birthday and still regrets not stopping earlier.
She currently works as an Online Communications Manager for the Government of Yukon in Whitehorse. Joanna has given writing workshops and talks in places as far afield as Iceland and Alaska and is active in Yukon's writing scene.
In Endlings Joanna Lilley offers a kind of history from the voice of extinct and extant animals, and from the observer’s omniscient lens. In these poems we are reminded that “not every death converts to crystal”. We watch a paleontologist with two vertebrae, and a boy who shoots the last Labrador Duck out of hunger. We watch as hunters shoot a rare cross-bred bear with a kind of appalled and implicated curiosity. Moving from narrative to lyrical poems, Joanna Lilley gives us the mythology of lost creatures and shows how easily we make myth from what once lived. We are condemned by the dodo’s damning account, by the Last Labrador Duck’s bitter meat. Condemned by loss: the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker and the things that have died without us even knowing. Careful where you step or sit or eat: “the last one died between the human wars. You may have sat on it...”
How write of so many known and unknown creatures without falling off the plank into a pit of sentimentality? Lilley does this through rawness, research, and honesty. These are poems of close study. Instead of the poems teetering into sentiment, we humans balance precariously on the raw wood that is the Anthropocene and the view is not good from this burning beam. How to write? Take your own skeleton and draw it in so that you are Megatherium and your bones echo this history, restless in drawered in a museum
We are so disconnected from nature we think it’s the economy that makes our lifestyles and lives possible. In fact it’s the complex web of nature within which we are inextricably linked and on which we are utterly dependent.
When a species disappears, that complex web of life loses resilience and productivity. This book is a reminder of what we have lost within human memory. It’s a frightening reminder that Nature is our Mother and source of life.
Endlings moved and changed me. A catalogue of extinctions, these poems ask whether the past must be the future. Through tributes and testaments, through voices animal and avian and human, through irony, despair, humour, and hope, Joanna Lilley’s clear vision and assured craft affirm that it’s too late for the passenger pigeon, nearly for the Northern white rhinoceros, but not for the living and not for art. 'Perhaps we can augment / our aptitude for wonder,' Lilley ventures. In honouring the lost, these poems invite and sometimes command us to attend and to mourn. To embrace their wonder is to commit to living differently.