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Poetry Canadian

Who We Thought We Were As We Fell

by (author) Michael Lithgow

Cormorant Books
Initial publish date
Apr 2021
Canadian, Death
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
    List Price

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In this second poetry collection by Michael Lithgow, intimations of something numinous and larger than life jostle with the material demands of the everyday, sparking an uncertainty about what lurks at the edges of things, if anything at all. The poems drift in the tension between a pleasing suburban life simply lived and unsettling moments that pull against it, intrusions of the surreal.

Civic uncertainty in the wilderness gives way to more intimate modes of circumspection, a working-through of different kinds of grieving – for a parent who withers from cancer, for family members murdered in war, for the platforms of death on which common conveniences like grocery stores depend.

The poems weigh harsh realities against promises of life and renewal, struggling to put into words something that would rather not be named. They are a thought-provoking meditation on being haunted by darker and more beautiful shadows than are apparent on a life's face level.

About the author

Michael Lithgow’s first collection of poetry, Waking in the Tree House, was shortlisted for the Quebec Writers Federation First Book Award. His poems and essays have appeared in numerous literary and academic journals and in Best Canadian Poetry (2012). Born in Ottawa, he changed cities frequently in his early years and moved to Vancouver in the mid-1980s, working as an activist journalist in community-based media and as a paralegal, before attending graduate school in Montreal and Ottawa to complete a PhD in Communication Studies. He currently lives in Edmonton with his wife and daughter, and teaches at Athabasca University.

Michael Lithgow's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“In a world where everyone must live with grief and perpetual indignity, it is a sincerely heartening thing to have effective literary examples, in terms of both reckoning and perseverance. It is a project of tremendous difficulty that Lithgow takes on with this book, and the high degree to which he succeeds is very much worthy of praise.”


“I'd say it's the best poetry book I've read in quite some time.”

Daybreak Alberta

“The poems are polished but the material is raw and bleeding.”

Alberta Views

Other titles by Michael Lithgow