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Poetry Canadian

Histories Haunt Us

by (author) Triny Finlay

Nightwood Editions
Initial publish date
Mar 2010
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2010
    List Price

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In Triny Finlay's second collection of poetry, she asks what it means to let in the ghosts of the past. Will memories loosen the frame of a life? Will subtle fears take over? Finlay plumbs the depths of family life as she negotiates the territories of ancestry, love, and new motherhood: a great-grandmother who went to bed for seventeen years; a lover caught with somebody else; a son's critical illness -- things that "encroach, they devastate, so that you must decide: you are an anchor or you are not."

Whether she is contemplating the politics of drought in Eritrea or a safari in South Africa, Finlay does not let us forget the potency of our personal and collective histories. She also explores the expansive landscape of her experience, layering a vision of her world with that of her young son, and exposing the ache of obssession, of doubt, of
suffering. This is a fragile world, in which rivers overflow and fear can become paralysing. But there is hope here, too, for the "lusty aria" of the newborn child, for "a look we might have missed, in a different room," for the falling leaves that return to the ground, that recover us.

About the author

Triny Finlay was born in Melbourne, Australia and grew up in Toronto. She is the author of Splitting Off (Nightwood, 2004), Histories Haunt Us (Nightwood, 2010), and the chapbook Phobic (Gaspereau, 2006). Her poetry has been anthologized in Breathing Fire 2: Canada's New Poets, Qwerty Decade, and Gaspereau Gloriatur: Book of the Blessed Tenth Year; her writing has also appeared in various Canadian periodicals including ARC, Broken Pencil, Contemporary Verse 2, The Fiddlehead, The Globe and Mail,Grain, Other Voices, and University of Toronto Quarterly. She has studied at Mount Allison University, the University of New Brunswick, and the University of Toronto. She lives with her family in Fredericton, NB, where she teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of New Brunswick.

Triny Finlay's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Finlay has a gift for weaving many images into neat patterns with open-ended conclusions. She frames many pictures, some of which are fleeting while others probe in-depth the feelings, thoughts, and imaginings of the human psyche.
--Michael O. Nowlan, a href=>The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)

Undisguised, her poetry takes on a powerful authenticity.
―Rhea Tregebov,The Globe and Mail

Powerfully elemental in image and sound, particularly in the ghazal-like title sequence, this is a beautifully sombre and sensual reflection on the faithful failing of language.
―Jennifer Still, Winnipeg Free Press

Uniting the [book's] two styles is Finlay's declarative sentences such as, "The finest art can be the ugliest metaphor" or "After the bliss of the baby came the flies." In Finlay's world, filled with lingering ghosts, broken hearts and sickness, where "you are an anchor or you are not," these sentences reflect a desire to make sense of it all. Anchored, these poems are, perhaps, but during a hurricane at night, in the middle of the ocean.
The Telegraph-Journal (St. John)

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