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Poetry Canadian

Essential Tremor


by (author) Barbara Nickel

Caitlin Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2021
Canadian, Death
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
    List Price

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Taking the name of a nervous system disorder that causes involuntary shaking, Essential Tremor undertakes an exploration of the body that holds disruption at its heart. The captivating and timely poems in Essential Tremor attend to many bodies--the body of the world, changing, unreachable, at times momentarily illumined; the human body, loved, ill, mourning, passing or passed from this world; and the divine body, questioned, encountered and not, sought by people from the margins in the body of a biblical palimpsest.

In her third collection, award-winning poet Barbara Nickel blends sonnets in sequences and scattered stand-alones with more formal innovations and extensions--erasures of the notes accompanying da Vinci's anatomical drawings, lines found from Beethoven's autopsy, and the musings of poet isolating in the midst of a twenty-first-century pandemic. Nickel asks her readers to consider the many facets of the body, how it finds the words, lines and poems that together form an essential life, a gift among our deepest wounds and terrors.

About the author

Barbara Nickel
is the author of books for young people, including The Secret Wish of Nannerl Mozart and Hannah Waters and the Daughter of Johann Sebastian Bach, which won the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize and was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award. Barbara is also an award-winning author of poetry for adults; her work has been published in many anthologies and magazines such as The Walrus. She lives in Yarrow, B.C. with her husband and two sons.

Barbara Nickel's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Like Wallace Stevens, invoked through epigraph and structural echo in Essential Tremor, Barbara Nickel grapples with the relation between spirit and the world of sensation in this compelling new book. Her brilliant sonnet sequence, "Corona," is likely to stand among the finest (most nuanced) art to emerge from this harrowing time. Equally powerful is the consonantal riffing of her poem-set focusing on the body and its parts (sacrum/sacred). Sonically rich, formally adept, and allusively dense, Essential Tremor widens out to consider the nature of the body, of suffering, and of compassion through time. The vision is unsparing, yet leavened by grace."

--Mary Dalton, Poet Laureate of the City of St. John's

Other titles by Barbara Nickel