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Poetry Canadian

Trouble Sleeping

by (author) Phil Hall

Brick Books
Initial publish date
Oct 2000
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2000
    List Price

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"If only my cousin had kept off me, kept out of me his brown fly-strop glue, his shot dog-eye cream. Afterwards, he would comb my hair to a wet Elvis point between my eyes and warn me what his wolves would do to me, and where I'd be sent, if I ever told."

This experience is at the core of Phil Hall's Trouble Sleeping. It is the source of bad dreams and also, paradoxically, the source of his crisp, luminous text. Trouble Sleeping makes visible the poetry of hopeful despair by remembering a poor working class family of Irish descent, living outside the margins of respectability at the edge of the Laurentian Shield in mid-Northern Ontario in the 1950s. This raw world is seen by a child who is a misfit in it (especially among its brutal, drunken males). That child will eventually come to speak for the plight of unregarded misfits in society at large. "Orthodontics is a class issue" to the writer looking back on a time when it never occurred to his parents that crooked teeth might be fixed - not that they could have afforded it. In Trouble Sleeping, working a variation on the Japanese form of haibun, Hall alternates prose passages with poems that reflect nightmarishly on the interwoven narratives.

About the author

Phil Hall’s first small book, Eighteen Poems, was published by Cyanamid, the Canadian mining company, in Mexico City, in 1973. Among his many titles are: Old Enemy Juice (1988), The Unsaid (1992), and Hearthedral – A Folk-Hermetic (1996). In the early 80s, Phil was a member of the Vancouver Industrial Writers’ Union, & also a member of the Vancouver Men Against Rape Collective. He has taught writing at York University, Ryerson University, Seneca College, George Brown College, and is currently the Writer in Residence at Queen's University. He has been poet-in-residence at Sage Hill Writing Experience (Sask.), The Pierre Berton House (Dawson City, Yukon), & elsewhere. In 2007, BookThug published Phil’s long poem, White Porcupine. Also in 2007. he and his wife, Ann, walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. He is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, and lives near Perth, Ontario. Recent books include An Oak Hunch and The Little Seamstress. In 2011, he won Canada’s Governor General’s Award for Poetry for his most recent collection, Killdeer, a work the jury called “a masterly modulation of the elegiac through poetic time.” Killdeer was also nominated for the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize, and won the 2012 Trillium Book Prize.

Phil Hall's profile page

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