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Poetry Places

Vancouver for Beginners

by (author) Alex Leslie

Book*hug Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2019
Places, LGBT, Canadian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2019
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2019
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Winner of the 2020 Western Canada Jewish Book Awards, The Lohn Foundation Prize for Poetry

In Vancouver for Beginners, the nostalgia of place is dissected through the mapping of a city where readers are led past surrealist development proposals, post-apocalyptic postcards, childhood landmarks long gone and a developer who paces at the city's edge, shoring it up with aquariums.

In these poems you will traverse a city lined with rivers, not streets. Memory traps and tourist traps reveal themselves, and the ocean glints, elusive, in the background. Here there are many Vancouvers and no Vancouver, a city meant for elsewhere after the flood has swept through. This place of the living and the dead has been rewritten: forests are subsumed by parks, buildings sink and morph, and the climate has changed.

Vancouver for Beginners is a ghost story, an elegy, a love song for a city that is both indecipherable and a microcosm of a world on fire.

About the author

Alex Leslie was born and lives in Vancouver. She is the author of two short story collections, We All Need To Eat, a finalist for the 2019 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, the 2020 Nancy Richler Memorial Prize for Fiction, and the 2020 Kobzar Award, and People Who Disappear, a finalist for the 2013 Lambda Literary Award for Debut Fiction and the 2013 ReLit Award for Short Fiction. She is also the author of two prose poetry collections, Vancouver for Beginners, winner of the 2020 Lohn Foundation Prize for Poetry, The things I heard about you, which was shortlisted for the 2014 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. Alex’s writing has been included in the Journey Prize Anthology, The Best of Canadian Poetry in English, and in a special issue of Granta spotlighting Canadian writing, co-edited by Madeleine Thien and Catherine Leroux. She has received a CBC Literary Award, a Gold National Magazine Award, and the 2015 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers from the Writers' Trust of Canada.


Alex Leslie's profile page


  • Winner, Lohn Foundation Prize for Poetry, Western Canada Jewish Book Awards
  • Short-listed, City of Vancouver Book Award

Editorial Reviews

“Leslie’s poems are ingenious and complex, following versions of Vancouver past, present, and future… Every poem is assured, every word chosen for its weight, and the result is a beautiful collection that is both inspired by, and lamenting for, a city that is never satisfied.” —Canadian Literature

"A magnetic collection that must be read over and over." —Kirkus Reviews

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