Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Poetry Canadian

Lunatic Engine

by (author) Paul Pearson

Turnstone Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2020
Canadian, Family, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2020
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Slow planetary rotation, the push and pull of the moon, a book--Paul Pearson's debut collection of poems lays before readers a mapping and re-mapping of the familiar systems of order we rely on to survive the human experience. Reflecting on the principles set down by both Galileo and the Church, Lunatic Engine directs our gaze to the heavens, to the childhood home, to the womb, to the quiet moments of our daily lives to contemplate what comfort is offered by doctrines when staring down the barrel of birth, death, and everything in between.

About the author

Paul Pearson is the co-founding editor and chapbook designer for the Olive Reading Series. His poems have appeared in Descant and Event, and the anthology Writing the Land: Alberta Through Its Poets from House of Blue Skies. Raised in a mining town in the mountainous back-country of southeastern British Columbia, Paul has since relocated to Edmonton where he lives and writes with his wife and two children. Lunatic Engine is his debut collection.

Paul Pearson's profile page

Excerpt: Lunatic Engine (by (author) Paul Pearson)

Bodies That Stay Atop Water

or don't
move without it or
without remembering or
when movement didn't rely on
water and bodies
to write books about water and memory
this body from city and science
and our bodies to the bush and its bodies
and its past and its
it is
so many bodies so much memory
moving like water or so much
water moving over bodies
of memory bodies moving within bodies
that stay within memory or
move atop
it or


fuck it

let's just start this let's just
get married against our mothers' wishes and have
miscarriages and have kids and be good mothers and
fathers and get jobs and buy houses and buy cats and
bury cats and bury mothers and ignore signs and deny
sorrows and
see who
floats and who

Editorial Reviews


Lunatic Engine is a book of orbits, of wayward paths traced around the gravitational bodies of childhood, parenthood, marriage, religion, art, and science. These are inventive poems in which ninjas fight Dutch elm disease, eyelashes are keys to understanding aerodynamics, and children free angels from river ice. At once moving and heady, Paul Pearson has written a remarkable book that will keep you looking over your shoulder into the heavens.

-- Adam Dickinson


The lunatic engine of Paul Pearson's dynamic first book pulses and revs across many different 'scapes: the conflict between science and religion, a subtly personal exploration of how one comes to terms with such, especially as a parent, a vision of the world as it is and as it might be. This engine takes readers to the moons of Jupiter and to the poet's backyard, stepping delicately through a forest of footnotes turning into new poems, and pushing the lyric into new configurations along the way. Both theologically and scientifically attuned and emotionally acute, Lunatic Engine torques its power with subtle grace.


--Douglas Barbour

How thrilling--how gratifying--to discover that a work of mine, inspired by the bond between Galileo and his daughter, has in turn ignited the imagination of Paul Pearson, inciting these starry new poems of familial love.

--Dava Sobel

Related lists