Griffin Poetry Prize winner Karen Solie’s new collection, The Caiplie Caves, interrogates violence, power, economies, self-delusion, and belief in poems that orbit the Caves of Caiplie on the coast of Scotland.
In the seventh century, on the coast of Fife, Scotland, an Irish missionary named Ethernan withdrew to a cave in order to decide whether to establish a priory on May Island, directly opposite, in the Firth of Forth, or pursue a hermit’s solitude. His decision would have been informed by the realities of war, religious colonization, and ideas of progress, power, and corruption, and complicated by personal interest, grief, confusion, and a faith (religious and secular) under extreme duress. His choice between life as an “active” or a “contemplative” was one between public and private action. Along with the question of what constitutes action, it remains a choice central to political and private life.
Karen Solie’s fifth book of poetry, The Caiplie Caves, attends to transition in times of crisis. Around passages informed by Ethernan’s story are poems that orbit the geographical location of the caves but that range through the ages, addressing violence, power, work, economies, self-delusion, and belief. Indecision and necessity are inseparable companions. As are the prospect of error and regret.
About the author
Karen Solie was born in Moose Jaw and grew up on the family farm in southwest Saskatchewan. Over the years, she has worked as a farm hand, an espresso jerk, a groundskeeper, a newspaper reporter/photographer, an academic research assistant, and, presently, an English teacher. Her poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in numerous North American journals, including The Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, Event, Indiana Review, ARC, Other Voices, and The Capilano Review. She has also had her poetry published in the anthologies Breathing Fire (Harbour, 1995), Hammer and Tongs (Smoking Lung, 1999) and Introductions: Poets Present Poets (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2001) where her work is presented by Don McKay. One of her short stories is featured in The Journey Prize Anthology 12. She currently lives in Victoria, BC.
- Runner-up, T. S. Eliot Prize
- Commended, A CBC Book of the Year
- Runner-up, Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry