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Poetry Canadian

Whiny Baby

by (author) Julie Paul

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2024
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2024
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2024
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Chomping / champing / championing / churlish / … / There’s a wolf at the door / that looks exactly like me

Who is the “whiny baby” in this book? Rather than calling names or hurling insults, the candid poems in this collection most often implicate the poet herself.

Expansive in form and voice, the poems in Julie Paul’s second collection offer both love letters and laments. They take us to construction sites, meadows, waiting rooms, beaches, alleys, gardens, and frozen rivers, from Montreal to Hornby Island. They ask us to live in the moment, despite the moment. Including a spirited long poem that riffs on the fairy tale “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” these poems are like old friends that at once console and confess. They blow kisses, they remember, and they celebrate the broken and the lost alongside the beautiful.

At turns frank, peevish, introspective, and mischievous, the poems share sincere and intimate perspectives on the changing female body, our natural and built landscapes, and the idiosyncrasies of modern life. Whiny Baby calls on us to simultaneously examine and exult in our brief time on earth.

About the author

Julie Paul is the author of The Jealousy Bone and The Pull of the Moon. Her stories, poems, and essays have been published in numerous journals, including the New Quarterly, the Malahat Review, the Fiddlehead, the Dalhousie Review, Geist, and Canadian Living, and in the anthologies Coming Attractions 07 and Women Behaving Badly. Learn more about Julie at

Julie Paul's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Whiny Baby is garden and grit, wit and compassion. Julie Paul is unafraid to name what visits us as writers and as human beings: longing and grief, lust and greed and hunger, and moments of a rich and clarifying light. Framed through humour and wry self-implication, these are poems of great generosity that speak the world in all of its fraught complexity.” Jenna Butler

“Paul displays genuine courage in confronting the question of whether artistic practice is a viable form of self-determination despite all that threatens to undermine it.” Montreal Review of Books

"Is it ‘smoke, pollen, the lack of self-restraint’ that has me tearing up as I dive, whole body, into the poems in Whiny Baby? Yes, but also it is the incredible female voice here, the deeply emotionally connected woman living and being in the world. It is middle age, childhood, and motherhood. It is the mother who irons her young adult son’s shirts to be close, it is the ‘chair that was never guaranteed to still be there / when the music stopped,’ and it is that ‘no one cooks for you’ once a beloved Nana is gone. It is the big questions and the small moments that nearly answer them. These poems recalibrate, they check in." Yvonne Blomer

"Julie Paul’s poems are suffused with daily light, with wit and humour, and with the unexpected gift of grace. ‘I am here to offer company,’ she writes, “… a gesture of love on a sunny morning.” Her company is the best kind, funny and wise. I love her careful craft, her supple lines that follow one another as naturally as water in a stream, riffling over rocks, and the deeply attentive care she pays to the world around her, at her feet, in the sky and in branches of the trees shading her walks. Read these poems for their beauty, their surprising turns of phrase, their emotional depth, and for the space they hold for all of us within this generous book." Theresa Kishkan

“Trust me, Whiny Baby is a song you want to hear on repeat. These poems demonstrate Julie Paul’s range; her voice is by turns tender, lyrically buoyant, clever, funny, and wryly self-aware. Some of these poems are as distilled as the best of Kay Ryan and some are abundant, lushly playful, offering the sort of wisdom and solace encountered in Mary Oliver’s work. In being attentive to ‘what humans do,’ Julie Paul’s poems illuminate ‘the struggle to love as best as possible what’s right in front of you.’ No small gift.” Susan Elmslie

"Whiny Baby’s perceptive heart spots a spelling mistake or a blue jay from a hundred feet away. The speaker in these poems is Cohen’s pretty woman in the darkened door, crying ‘why not ask for more.’ Her candour, her caramel syllables, keep me reading! More priest than queen, she listens to grass, floats dead man, is a reason to stay together. Whiny Baby is a self-aware witness in which feeling is the ground, the scars, the hope-soaked prayer between the lines." Cornelia Hoogland

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