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Poetry General

Rules of the Kingdom

by (author) Julie Paul

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2017
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    Publish Date
    Feb 2017
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A lapsed religion still emits / faint signals; God, / in his satellite dish, / groans / moving on. To seek belonging, to strain against the familiar – these are the polarities many of us live between, feeling the pull of each desire. Offering a particular history, an intimate vantage point from within the various kingdoms we inhabit, Julie Paul’s The Rules of the Kingdom is an exploration of this struggle on a personal level and a universal one. Broken into five sections, the book examines the human struggle to find meaning, comfort, and a sense of home. In “Settlers’ Descendant Reclaims the Past,” the poems consider rural life, both the specific and the collective, including a village’s destruction by fire. In “Weight of the Word” the focus turns to family of origin, religion, and rites of passage. Poems take a familial tack again in “Cleavage,” wherein Paul dives into the waters of motherhood, and they drift into further intimacy in “The World’s Smallest Republic,” a series of poems about sex, love, and marriage. Finally, the poems in the fifth section, “Next Time the World Will Burn,” explore our place in the twenty-first century and offer some idiosyncratic suggestions on how to live. At turns humorous, playful, contemplative, and coy, the poems in The Rules of the Kingdom question the vagaries of faith and family but ultimately celebrate life and love.

About the author

Julie Paul is the author of The Jealousy Bone and The Pull of the Moon. Her stories, poems, and essays have been published in numerous journals, including the New Quarterly, the Malahat Review, the Fiddlehead, the Dalhousie Review, Geist, and Canadian Living, and in the anthologies Coming Attractions 07 and Women Behaving Badly. Learn more about Julie at

Julie Paul's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Rich with the evocative details of place and family life. The poems are skilfully crafted and attentively honed, making The Rules of the Kingdom a pleasure to read." Canadian Literature

"Julie Paul’s The Rules of the Kingdom is a testament to the grit and grace of life lived with intention. It is rare to encounter poems that meet the complexities of being and belonging with such fresh, unapologetic joy." Deanna Young, author of House Dreams

"Julie Paul’s first book of poetry is a powerful narrative of place, family, religion and sex, her histories thereof. These poems are strong, delicate, risky as fire. So much fire in this beautiful collection, so many bright poems, so many clear flames." Arleen Paré, author of Lake of Two Mountains

“With mastery and invention, [Paul] takes the storytelling poem to new heights.” The Malahat Review

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