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Poetry Canadian

Hacker Packer

by (author) Cassidy McFadzean

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Apr 2015
Canadian, Women Authors, Places
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2015
    List Price

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A playfully inventive and invigorating debut collection of poetry from a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize and The Walrus Poetry Prize.
     With settings ranging from the ancient sites and lavish museums of Europe to the inner-city neighbourhood in North Central Regina where the poet grew up, the poems in Cassidy McFadzean’s startling first collection embrace myth and metaphysics and explore the contradictory human impulses to create art and enact cruelty. A child burn victim is conscripted into a Grade Eight fire safety seminar; various road-killed animals make their cases for sainthood; and the fantastical visions in Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights move off the canvas and onto the speaker’s splendid pair of leggings. Precociously wise, formally dexterous, and unrepentantly strange, the poems in Hacker Packer present a wholly memorable poetic debut.

About the author


  • Short-listed, League of Canadian Poets Gerald Lampert Memorial Award
  • Short-listed, Saskatchewan Book Awards City of Regina Book Award
  • Short-listed, Canadian Authors Association Literary Award
  • Short-listed, Saskatchewan Book Awards First Book Award

Contributor Notes

CASSIDY MCFADZEAN’s poems have appeared in magazines across Canada, including The Malahat Review, Grain, Arc, Vallum, and The Fiddlehead. In 2012 she published a chapbook, Farwell, and in 2013 she was a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize and The Walrus Poetry Prize. Her debut collection of poems, Hacker Packer (2015), was a finalist for the Saskatchewan Book Award’s First Book Award, the City of Regina Award, and the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award. McFadzean was born in Regina and studied at the University of Regina and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Editorial Reviews

"Artful as the mosaics, tapestries, and temples that are its subject matter, Hacker Packer is a vitrine of rich, striking contrasts and images arranged for the fortunate reader. In poem after poem of sure-footed lines, Cassidy McFadzean proves herself to be a gifted curator of the varied and temporal. An outstanding debut."
--David O’Meara, author of Noble Gas, Penny Black
"The poems in Hacker Packer cross imaginative boundaries between human and animal, intimate strangers and mythical beasts, and traverse a self-scrutinizing frontier between pathos and mordant irony. McFadzean is as anxiously comfortable with the idiom of Justin Bieber as she is with that of bardic Old English, and maps her way across a densely laid path of sound and forms. Her work is a dazzling and sometimes threatening guidebook to an interior landscape of 'no sure footing we found we stood on.'"
--Mark Levine, author of The Wilds
“Cassidy McFadzean’s Hacker Packer packs a linguistic punch. In poems that are both baroque and contemporary, McFadzean demonstrates a knack for contrasting high and low culture to evoke a rich cultural ethos. Whether it’s Agamemnon’s tomb “swarming with Beliebers” or Selena Gomez lyrics dotting a poem that celebrates the night sky, Hacker Packer is guaranteed to keep readers off-balance with an irresistible mix of myth, history, and popular culture.”
--Jury citation, Gerald Lampert Memorial Award

"McFadzean’s debut collection is a finely layered exploration of language and archetype rooted in mythology, history, intimate reflections, and more external ghosts. In its strata lie both discrete and delicately interwoven strands: the medieval Unicorn Tapestries are given galloping, irreverent voice; fire and water become focal points for meditations on identity and change; underworlds and iconography of the dead vie with depictions of Romanesques turned viciously on their heads, piety, and sainthood; and the intrusion and seamless melding of the modern upon the historical. . . . It is all unearthed in deliciously adroit wordplay and exploration of form, capped off in two perfect, mirrored closing notes—one long, one short—that leave the tongue still thirsty, tasting peaty, tilled earth. A most satisfying and accomplished collection."
--Publishers Weekly

"To read Cassidy McFadzean’s debut collection is to peer into the processes of a gifted poet as she gathers her forces. The poems in Hacker Packer are characterized by enthusiasm and discovery. . . . Play is everything in this collection. It swings with gusto through extensive subject matter. These poems are joy, indulgence. They exercise the power of the written word to take a thing and turn it, topsy-turvy-wise towards something altogether new. . . . These poems are peacock-like displays of accomplished craft and intellect. They show enthusiasm for the contemporary Canadian poets who inhabit this kingdom of McFadzean’s, where embellishments and grandiose spectacles take the forefront, sometimes shadowing the meat and guts of the poem, though always delighting. If the final poem in the collection is any indication of the trajectory of McFadzean’s career we can count on that sturdy foundation. . . . Real curiosity not just danced with, but thoughtfully explored. I look forward to following the career of McFadzean as she claims her place between soil and sky."
--ARC Poetry Magazine

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