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Poetry Canadian

Myself A Paperclip

by (author) Triny Finlay

Goose Lane Editions
Initial publish date
Oct 2021
Canadian, Women Authors, LGBT
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jul 2022
    List Price

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Winner, New Brunswick Book Award (Poetry)
Shortlisted, J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award

Leaving a drawer open in here
is like leaving your fly undone
is like letting a scab hang off a healing wound.

In Myself A Paperclip, Finlay sketches the internal self and the external whir of the psychiatric ward, laying bare its daily rhythms. Memories, musings, echoes, and meditations on stigma coalesce: quarters dispensed into a payphone to listen to the stunned silence of a partner; Splenda packets and rice pudding hoarded in dresser drawers; counting back from ten as electrodes connect with the temple.

Deeply personal and reflective, Myself A Paperclip confronts abuse and experiences with debilitating mental illnesses, therapies, and hospitalizations, all shaped into the remarkable form of a serial long poem.

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


  • Winner, New Brunswick Book Award (Poetry)
  • Short-listed, J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award

Editorial Reviews

Myself a Paperclip oscillates between the thoughts and experiences of the speaker and the world of the psychiatric ward. ... The poems here are poignant, imaginative, and heart-wrenching. Her experiences, while harrowing at times, are also deeply familiar.”


Myself A Paperclip is more than just a book of poetry — it is a labour of love. Finlay has bravely brought conversations about mental health out of the shadows and put a face to them.”

<i>The Brunswickan</i>

“[Finlay] writes about going through some terrible things, in a style that is frank and at times raw, at times funny — if you have an appreciation for the absurd.”

CBC News

“Finlay writes of coming apart and reshaping, working through the shifts that medications prompt and allow, writing the light and the dark, and the uncertain journey toward a kind of balance.”

rob mclennan

“Just as a paperclip is bent but holds every page together, its strength not sapped but tautened by the bending, Triny Finlay's fierce and gentle new poems join us to a struggle with the everyday, not just inside the psych ward but outside, baring its roots not only in care but in vulneration of bodies. Without flinching, Myself A Paperclip echoes Eliot's “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” as Finlay evokes an uncertain world, its components and banality, its Sanka and toast, a dwelling-place fraught and unfraught. Here is the litany of voices from which collectivity emerges and yet individuality is preserved.”

Erín Moure, author of <i>The Elements</i>

“Finlay’s words serve as a call to action for mental illness and its treatments to be normalized, and for the needs of those living with mental illness to be met with more compassion.”

<i>This Magazine</i>

“In Myself A Paperclip, Triny Finlay renews the elemental possibilities of poetry — transformation, preservation, vision, and voice — in order to counter the stigmatization of mental illness, resist the idealization of treatment, and reveal the intense difficulties of recovery and survival. Myself A Paperclip is an essential, necessary read for its vital authenticity, courageous activism, and singular art.”

Daniel Scott Tysdal, author of <i>Fauxccasional Poems</i>

“‘Like a curious fawn,’ Triny Finlay writes in this stark, candid, and surprisingly funny collection about mental illness; ‘off a ledge backwards.’ Here is the self, undone and bent but unbreaking, the voice a lash and a roar, here are words well-wrought and wielded with such care. Myself A Paperclip is compelling in the earliest sense of the word, urging us irresistibly together. Would that we were all ‘so ready to be unfastened.’”

Katia Grubisic, author of <i>What if red ran out</i>

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