Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Poetry Women Authors

The Debt

by (author) Andreae Callanan

Initial publish date
Apr 2021
Women Authors, Places, Family
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Finalist for the 2022 Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry • Shortlisted for the 2023 E.J. Pratt Family Poetry Award

Set against the backdrop of a post-moratorium St. John’s, Newfoundland, The Debt explores tensions between tradition and innovation, and between past and present in a province unmoored by loss and grief. The Debt is about development and change, idleness and activism, ecological stewardship, feminism, motherhood, the personal and the political. It is also about resistance—against the encroaching forces of greed and capitalism, even against the accumulated notions of the self. The poems are an argument for community and connection in an age increasingly associated with isolation of the individual. The Debt explores the dues we all owe: to nature, to those who came before us, and to one another.

About the author


  • Short-listed, E.J. Pratt Family Poetry Award

Contributor Notes

Andreae Callanan's poetry, essays, and reviews have been read in The Walrus, Canadian Notes and Queries, Canadian Verse 2, Riddle Fence,, and The Newfoundland Quarterly. She is a recent recipient of the Cox & Palmer SPARKS Creative Writing Award at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and she holds a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship and a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholarship for her doctoral work in English literature. Her chapbook, Crown, was published by Anstruther Press in 2019. Andreae lives in St. John's with her husband and their four children.

Excerpt: The Debt (by (author) Andreae Callanan)

from "Crown":

I’ve said too much already. I had sworn
I wouldn’t breathe a word about the stand
of golden raspberries behind the school,
or mention the apple tree spiralling low
with bright fists of fruit. A grandfather’s rule:
take some, leave some, tell no one. You understand,
it’s born of fear of empty pantries, born
of a hungry history.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Debt

"Place, in all its bounty and limitation, forms the backdrop of Andreae Callanan's collection, The Debt (Biblioasis). Some of these impeccably crafted poems illuminate a Newfoundland childhood/adolescence of both deprivation and abundance; others paint exquisite miniatures of family life with husband and children. Lit throughout with tenderness and humour, Callanan's precision as a poet is virtually flawless; she renders the ordinary extraordinary in this impressive debut."—Evelyn Lau, 2022 Cogswell Award Judge

"Rhythmic and engaging, Andreae Callanan’s The Debt offers up keen observations of the poet’s inner and outer worlds. The collection follows its central figure from childhood through to middle age in well-crafted lyrics that reveal an impressive attention to phrasing and sound ... The Debt is a most promising and resonant debut."—Jury Citation, 2023 E.J. Pratt Poetry Award

“Andreae Callanan’s appealing debut collection is an exploration of what is owed: an individual’s debt to family, community and place in forming identity and the present’s debt to the past. In the opening poem, the St. John’s writer offers a lyrical portrait of the island she calls home ... In a sardonic suite of poems called ‘Crown,’ she looks at the history of settlement and colonialism, and the effect of being ‘outpost, not empire.’ Callanan’s phrasing is crisp, forthright and imbued with the music in commonplace language.”—Toronto Star

“Few books being published by authors in Newfoundland and Labrador have a more ‘of the moment’ title than The Debt … Callanan’s own urgent action is primarily introspective in her new collection, exploring debt from public, political, and personal directions.”—CBC Books

“Callanan writes of the distances between rural and urban Newfoundlanders, and of accents, the loss of the fish and of what colonialism looks like, from the contemporary ground. She writes, lovingly, of Newfoundland, and all its ‘wild and weedy things’ … This collection is an articulation of that complicated relationship between home and away, writing her familiar and immediate, as well as what might be possible beyond the horizon.”—Rob McLennan’s Blog

Related lists