Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Poetry Canadian

the trick of staying and leaving

by (author) David Zieroth

Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd.
Initial publish date
Mar 2023
Canadian, Family, Places
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2023
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


From Governor General’s Award-winning poet David Zieroth comes a new collection about history, connections and travels in Europe.

Impromptu English lessons in a North Vancouver coffee shop, and subsequent trips to Bratislava, bring the speaker in these poems a warmer appreciation of friends and family as well as a wider vision of the interplay of folklore and culture, and of the human-made and natural world. These poems speak of affections that cross borders—geographical, historical and interpersonal—and that show us ways to love each other. Here are villages, people and landscapes in Slovakia, a post-Communist country with a complicated past and present, where Zieroth seeks what unites us across barriers. He brings this deeper sense of connection home with him, even when a part of his new sense of self and others lingers along the Danube.

About the author

David Zieroth’s The Fly in Autumn (Harbour, 2009) won the Governor General’s Literary Award and was nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and the Acorn-Plantos Award for People’s Poetry in 2010. Zieroth also won The Dorothy Livesay Poetry Award for How I Joined Humanity at Last (Harbour, 1998). Other publications include the trick of staying and leaving (Harbour, 2023), watching for life (McGill-Queen’s, 2022), the bridge from day to night (Harbour, 2018), Zoo and Crowbar (Guernica Editions, 2015), Albrecht Dürer and me (Harbour, 2014), The November Optimist (Gaspereau, 2013), The Village of Sliding Time (Harbour, 2006), The Education of Mr. Whippoorwill: A Country Boyhood (Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 2002) and Crows Do Not Have Retirement (Harbour, 2001). His poems have been included in the Best Canadian Poetry series, shortlisted for National Magazine and Relit Awards and featured on Vancouver buses three times as part of Poetry in Transit. He watches urban life from his third-floor balcony in North Vancouver, BC, where he runs The Alfred Gustav Press and produces handmade poetry chapbooks twice per year.

David Zieroth's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“In the trick of staying and leaving, David Zieroth delights and energizes with poetry filled with wonder and hope. His poems spill out a rich language we want to hold on our tongues and savour; it’s ‘the wet taste of talk that helps us.’ After traveling with Zieroth’s poems, we feel the reluctance in our soles when it’s time to return home.”

Al Rempel, author of <i>Undiscovered Country</i>

“In his wonderful new collection of poems, David Zieroth convincingly demonstrates how we see most when we see freshly. Employing his assured command of poetic skills—a mastery that has garnered him both a Governor General’s Literary Award in poetry and BC’s highest poetry honour—Zieroth portrays his astonishment and delight at connecting with a Slovakian family. ‘I was made new because I saw the new,’ the poet writes. The resulting poems communicate the author’s joy and insights that result from his introduction to Slovakian landscapes, hidden cultural assumptions, histories and language, even the position of ‘the tongue in English / and not in Slovak.’ A deep affection for the people and places described permeates these poems, as well as wonder at the strangeness both of finding himself in this new world late in life, and of what his discoveries teach him about home. As ever with Zieroth, these new poems vibrate with a precision of detail, musicality of vocabulary and poetic form, and a thoroughgoing honesty—as he says, ‘[Y]ou cannot be shy when you are singing.’”

Tom Wayman, author of <i>Dirty Snow</i> and <i>Watching a Man Break a Dog’s Back</i>

“ In the trick of staying and leaving, David Zieroth charts his exploration of the Slovak tongue, of the landscape of Slovakia itself, and of his friendship with Miro, who guides him along the way. The poems in this collection work as an extended lyrical narrative that moves from Canada to Europe and back again. It is a journey that invites the reader along, principally through the poems’ entirely compelling narrator, whose thoughtful reflections and gently self-deprecating tone lead us to appreciate the powerful effect of the experience on the speaker. Like the photo album of a memorable trip, this is a book that one can open to any page and be immediately immersed, so clearly and precisely drawn are the details and the imagery. They are more than enough to fuel one’s own wanderlust: aesthetic, linguistic or geographic.”

Terence Young, author of <i>Smithereens</i>

“Turn to any page of this collection and you’ll be made aware of a richness of human connection that is beyond words. The wonderful irony is that the connection comes about through the language of one part of the world encountering that of another, and vice versa. The trick of staying and leaving is a fine imaginative testament to friendship and family and an exploration of the mysterious, life-affirming fact that as different as our inheritances of language and culture can be and as distant from one another we can appear, we are all metaphors for one another. As David Zieroth says in one of the poems in this splendid book, ‘the light in the other’s eye … translated into a tumult of meaning … helps us as daily as bread, human as breath.’”

Russell Thornton, author of <i>Answer to Blue</i>

“Zieroth's is a calm, meditative voice that mesmerises, drawing the reader into a world of wonder. These poems conjure a sensibility deeply attuned to the natural world. Musical, deeply spiritual with a rare humility, the trick of staying and leaving offers us multitudes.”

Miranda Pearson, author of <i>Rail</i> and <i>The Fire Extinguisher</i>

“In the trick of staying and leaving, Zieroth makes the perfect travel companion because of his open-hearted attentiveness to the perspectives and stories of others, and how they help us make sense of our own lives. Every stumble on a foreign word is not a disconnect but an opportunity for wonder and kinship. I am moved by the gentle, unhurried wisdom of these poems, their delight in all things familiar and unfamiliar.”

Raoul Fernandes, author of <i>Transmitter and Receiver</i>

Other titles by