Shortlisted, Trillium Book Award for Poetry and Gerald Lampert Memorial Award
In this confessional debut collection, Matthew Walsh meanders through their childhood in rural Nova Scotia, later roaming across the prairies and through the railway cafés of Alberta to the love letters and graffiti of Vancouver. In this nomadic journey, Walsh explores queer identity set against an ever-changing landscape of what we want, and who we are, were, and came to be.
Walsh is a storyteller in verse, his poems laced with catholic "sensibilities" and punctuated with Maritime vernacular. In These are not the potatoes of my youth, Walsh illuminates the complex choreography of family, the anxiety of individuality, and the ambiguous histories of stories erased, forgotten, or suppressed. Readers will find moments of humour, surprise, and a queer realization that all is not what it seems.
"Matthew Walsh dares readers to enter an urban world in which queer rurality is important, creative, poetic, and crucially disruptive to the norms of urban queer life. If the ‘here’ of this book isn’t yours, then get ready. If it is, then wait no longer for a book that captures the impossible queerness of the Maritimes and its effect on more arrogant locales."
"Walsh crafts poems that take this prickly and hard world and makes them fluffy and soft. Funny, touching, and at times surreal in the most delightful ways, it's impossible not to fall in love with these poems."
"It seems improbable that a book of poetry can consistently surprise, but such is the case with These are not the potatoes of my youth. These vital, necessary poems place an invigorating pressure on normative assumptions and perceptions about love, family, friendship, and the world. This is a book that will delight and move readers."
"The force of Walsh’s verse comes through their emphatic lyricism mixed with broader self-reflection and, most importantly, a kind of whimsical ecstasy ..."
"The word ‘queer’ casts many shadows. Odd. Funny. Uncanny. Baffling. Matthew Walsh teases out what’s queer about family, time, desire, and the self. An immense curiosity propels his explorations, unearthing scores of emotional and intellectual states. Wit sidles up to devotion. Vulnerability walks hand-in-hand with doubt."
"[A] compelling, original voice. In poems that are equal parts heart-tingling and hilarious, Walsh harvests family history and tales of queer friendship to create a tangled root system of relations. ... Walsh’s predilection for radical enjambments vaults the poems into a register all their own."
"The most affecting poems are about family, childhood and being gay in a town where homophobia is pervasive."