John Elizabeth Stintzi’s unforgettable debut collection, Junebat, grapples with the pain of uncertainty on the path towards becoming. Set during the year Stintzi lived in deep isolation in Jersey City, NJ, these poems map the depression the poet struggled with as they questioned and came to grips with their gender identity. Through the invention of the Junebat — a contradictory, evolving, ever-perplexing creature — Stintzi is able to create a self-defined space within the poems where they can reside comfortably, beyond the firm boundaries of the gender binary or the plethora of identities gathered under the queer umbrella.
As the speaker of the poems begins to emerge from their depression, the second wing of the book tracks their falling in love with a young woman surfacing from the end of her marriage. Challenging, heartbreaking, soaring, and powerfully new, the poems in Junebat demolish false walls and pull the reader to the dark edges of the mind, showing us how identity doesn’t have to be rigid or static but can be defined by confusion and contradiction, possibility and a metamorphosis that never ends.
JOHN ELIZABETH STINTZI is a non-binary writer who was raised on a cattle farm in northwestern Ontario. They are the author of two previous chapbooks of poetry, and their poems have been awarded the 2019 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers and the Long Poem Prize from the Malahat Review. Their poetry and fiction has appeared (or is forthcoming) in venues throughout the United States and Canada including the Fiddlehead, the Kenyon Review, and Ploughshares. They currently live in Kansas City with their partner and their dog Grendel.
PRAISE FOR JOHN ELIZABETH STINTZI AND JUNEBAT
“Lively and electric.” — Winnipeg Free Press
“A powerful debut collection of poetry.” — Ms. Magazine
“John Elizabeth Stintzi’s Junebat is a work of immense gentleness. The care shown toward the authorial self, the past, and those within Stintzi’s emotional sphere is like coming up for air from a culture ruled by nihilism. Case in point: ‘I am trying to personalize / myself to my melancholy, don’t want to be neighbour / to my own narrative anymore.’ To the poetics of the queer everyday Stintzi adds their ‘Junebat,’ a multitudinous concept of such explanatory power I’m certain it’ll endure in the collective memory of Canadian writing.” — Billy-Ray Belcourt, award-winning author of This Wound is a World and NDN Coping Mechanisms
“Junebat is a piercing examination of body, self, and the miraculous yet painful process of becoming. In this emotionally intimate, technically brilliant debut collection, Stintzi both opens a window to their soul and holds a mirror to the reader’s. Quietly powerful, Junebat is the kind of book one returns to over and over again, to read and to dream about.” — Kai Cheng Thom, award-winning author of A Place Called No Homeland and I Hope We Choose Love
PRAISE FOR JOHN ELIZABETH STINTZI
Winner, Writers’ Trust RBC Bronwen Wallace Award
Winner, Malahat Review’s Long Poem Prize
“‘Selections from a Junebat’ is a compelling collision of content and form disrupting gender identity and reckoning with the liminal and silent space that such disruption instigates. John Elizabeth Stintzi’s poems rely on the breaking of grammar and syntactical sequences as well as a re-visioning of Wallace Stevens’ ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’ to assert an authentic identity in the speaker’s private and public life. This reckoning and reclamation of self asks readers to consider their own concepts of gender and the difficulties that are faced when gender norms are disrupted. These are brave and timely poems.” — RBC Bronwen Wallace Award Jury Citation
“This poem witnesses the brutality of calving season with such visceral tenderness that one can only hold one’s gut and gasp aloud. It grabs the reader with its strange, emotionally and relationally complex opening image, and its recurrence is one the reader both clings to and dreads. Narratively enthralling and achingly rendered, it illustrates animal life in its most delicate and staccato form.” — Malahat Review’s 2019 Long Poem Prize Jury Citation
“Stintzi’s The Machete Tourist sings with thoughtful observation and poetic crafting, asking its readers to examine our own sense of identity, prejudices, and – perhaps more importantly – the possibilities available to us to strengthen our network of a more connected spirit of humanity.” — Kim Fahner, author of The Wings