Reminiscent of Pablo Neruda's Elemental Odes, Small Arguments is a stunningly original debut by a gifted young poet. The language of Small Arguments is simple yet there is nothing simple in its ideas. The work touches on the structures of argument, orchestrating material around repetition, variation and contrast. Thammavongsa's approach is like that of a scientist/philosopher, delicately probing material for meaning and understanding. The poet collects small lives, and argues for a larger belonging: a grain of dirt, a crushed cockroach, the eyes of a dead dragonfly. It is a work that suggests we can create with what we know and with that alone. || "This is the voice of a pilgrim, the one who bends to see, leans to hear... Thammavongsa has distilled her meaning from her details so masterfully and with such confident wisdom that she seems to be reading nature. Through her eyes, we can believe we see the true meaning in things." - Anne Michaels"A formidable work." - George Elliot Clarke
About the authors
Souvankham Thammavongsa was born in Nong Khai, Thailand, in 1978 and was raised and educated in Toronto. She won the 2004 ReLit prize for her first poetry book, Small Arguments. She is also the author of a second poetry book, Found, which was made into a short film and screened at film festivals worldwide, including Toronto International Film Festival and Dok Leipzig. Some of her poems were written while she was a resident at Yaddo. Poems have appeared in many of Canada’s literary journals and magazines, including Canadian Literature, Contemporary Verse 2, dANDelion, Event, The Fiddlehead and The Windsor Review. The poem “The Sun in Flannery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away” appeared in the anthology Troubling Borders: Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora published by the University of Washington Press in the United States. The poem “Perfect” was nominated for a National Magazine award. Thammavongsa was named one of “Best Under 35” writers in Canada in a special issue of The Windsor Review. She lives in Stouffville, Ontario.
Beth Follett is the founder and publisher of Pedlar Press, a Canadian literary house. Her first novel, Tell it Slant (Coach House Books, 2001), a retelling of Djuna Barnes’s 1936 novel Nightwood, met with critical acclaim. Her poetry, prose and nonfiction work have appeared in Brick, Best Canadian Poetry 2019, and elsewhere. She lives in St John’s, NL.