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Poetry Canadian

How to Hold a Pebble

by (author) Jaspreet Singh

NeWest Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2022
Canadian, Places
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2022
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2022
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How do we scale up our imagination of the human? How does one live one's life in the Anthropocene?

How to Hold a Pebble--Jaspreet Singh's second collection of poems--locates humans in the Anthropocene, while also warning against the danger of a single story. These pages present intimate engagements with memory, place, language, migration; with enchantment, uncanniness, uneven climate change and everyday decolonization; with entangled human/non-human relationships and deep anxieties about essential/non-essential economic activities. The poems explore strategies for survival and action by way of a playful return to the quotidian and its manifold interactions with the global and planetary. Of loss no scale remains no seawall... Between one's despairs / they will brighten / Hope's in-built traces.

About the author

Jaspreet Singh’s short pieces have appeared in Granta, Brick, Walrus, Zoetrope, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and the New York Times. He is the author of the novels Helium, Chef, and Face; the story collection Seventeen Tomatoes; the poetry collections November and How to Hold a Pebble; and the memoir My Mother, My Translator. He is a recipient of several awards and has been translated into many languages. He lives in Calgary, the traditional territory and home to the diverse Indigenous peoples such as: Niitsitapi, Siksika, Kainai, Piikuni, Tsuut'ina, Métis, Îyâxe Nakoda. You can find him online at

Jaspreet Singh's profile page


  • Short-listed, Raymond Souster Award

Editorial Reviews

Praise for How to Hold a Pebble:

"How to Hold a Pebbleis a work of remarkable intellect. With empathy and playfulness, with startle and delight, Jaspreet Singh explores the fragility, beauty, and sorrow of the dreaming and waking worlds. These poems will continue to toll inside you. At times, they will turn you inside out."

--Donna Kane, author of Orrery finalist for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award

"As Rilke's archaic torso was to Modernism, so is Jaspreet Singh's pebble to our late-Anthropocene literary moment. Instead of beholding the high, White ideal of 'pure' stone, we must hold the earthy, water-worn pebble. It may or may not be too late to change our lives; still, we must take the pebble in hand, steward what remains of the multifarious planet Singh both mourns and celebrates. The poems keen and dance--and amazingly, offer comfort. Humor resides here, in the polyphonic play within and among languages, as well as vital guidance: 'It [is]/impossible/to go back/the same way/we . . . entered'; 'Keep creating disorder, live, do not simply versify the rhetoric of empire.'"

- Natania Rosenfeld, author of Wild Domestic and The Blue Bed

"Jaspreet Singh distills, reveals and honors our complex relationship with the planet, from habitation to occupation, from the exquisite to the aching. His poems are mercurial and revelatory, and are always things of deep beauty. Singh delivers the moments big and small that tell of life itself, and of going forwards in our times."

--Anne Kennedy, author of The Sea Walks into a Wall and The Darling North

"For those paying attention, Singh demonstrates the monumental task of mindfulness. He enacts the quiet appreciation of a pebble while facing up to the tragedies we have made of the world. Through lenses of science, art, and history, he stares down colonialism's aftermath, environmental breakdown, and the collapse of intimacy. Despite often wishing to forget, this thoughtful poet holds to the necessity of being "a believer / in the task of witnessing." Like him, we must resist the urge to blink."

--John Barton, author of We Are Not Avatars and Lost Family

"Singh's collection is potent, truthful, and emotional. Sorrow and pain infuse narrations on colonization and climate change, and frustration accompanies musings on capitalism, but despite these heavy touchstones, the poems are not hopeless. Singh is able to expertly weave sorrow through lines of quiet joy, and feelings of unrest are considered only in equal measure with feelings of peace and contentment."

-- Fayth Simmons, Cloud Lake Literary

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