How many nights must it take
one such as me to learn
that we aren’t, after all, made
from that bird that flies out of its ashes,
that for us
as we go up in flames, our one work
to open ourselves, to be
the flames?

—Galway Kinnell

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Chapbook “Summer” nominated for bpNichol Award

Really thrilled to tell you my chapbook, Summer, from Desert Pets Press, has just been announced as a finalist for the bpNichol Chapbook Award. We launched this on Oct 29, 2016, so it’s really a lovely anniversary gift! I’m living in & going to school in New York right now, & it’s a challenging transition, so this nomination is a deeply appreciated tether to my hometown & the community of writers who’ve raised me up.

I tend not to be nostalgic, but I have an inordinate amount of nostalgia for this chapbook. I wrote about some painful personal things in it, but I also played a lot w/ form & space in a way that was also really joyous. But I think so much of my nostalgia is rooted in the wonderful work Desert Pets Press did on the flow & layout. Stuff I’m so grateful they imagined! Just like the cover itself is split between light & dark, the second half of this chapbook features black pages, w/ white text. That section contains one long poem, “Dew,” which I’ve described as a “children’s picture book w/o pictures.” I am still so awed at how Emma Dolan (designer) & Catriona Wright (editor) shaped this work into such a beautiful artifact.

September/October poetry selections for This Magazine

I could not be more excited about the poets in the current issue of This Magazine: Billy-Ray Belcourt & Phoebe Wang.

Billy-Ray Belcourt is a Cree poet & a scholar (a Rhodes scholar, no less!), w/an an incredibly unique & urgent voice. His first book, This Wound is a World, just came out this September, & the poem in the issue, “Ode to Norther Alberta,” is from the collection (follow link on his book title to buy). I cannot, cannot recommend his work enough, & I can’t even begin to imagine how far & fast it is going to travel. I am genuinely honoured that Billy-Ray was willing to share his work w/ This. 

Phoebe Wang’s first book, Admission Requirements, was released this past spring from M&S, & I raved about it on Instagram & in The Globe & Mail at the time. It’s an incredibly wise & sensitive collection. You should buy it, too, if you haven’t! I’m extra thrilled about the poem Phoebe shared because it’s one of the first pcs she’s written & shared publicly since the book was released. I’m so grateful she entrusted me w/ her new work.

The September/October issue is on newsstands now, friends!

Poetry review: new books by Pheobe Wang & Shane Rhodes, in The Globe & Mail

I reviewed Admission Requirements by Phoebe Wang & Dead White Men by Shane Rhodes for The Globe & Mail. Both books are excellent & highly recommended!

Phoebe Wang’s Admission Requirements is a lyrical meditation on identity, migration, family and community. It examines invisible – and indivisible – connections and boundaries. Wang opens with a question: “Are we done at last/with the idea of breaking ground/now that every bit of terra nullius has been subdued?” Terra nullius is Latin for “nobody’s land” – an expression that informed international law and enabled occupation. This open challenge announces Wang’s incomparable voice and vision, as she proceeds to break new ground on every page.

Admission Requirements swells with bodies of water, longing across distances, the unpredictability of currents when swimming and the loaded menace of foreign species, as in Invasive Carp. In Night Ferry, Wang writes, “Like the deck of a Ouija board, the boat crawls” toward a city that is “burning its birthday candles.” There’s something necessarily unsettling about the relationship drawn between what’s ominous and what’s universal.

Read the rest of the review here.

Poetry review: new books by Michael V. Smith & Elana Wolff for Quill & Quire

I reviewed Bad Ideas by Michael V. Smith & Everything Reminds You of Something Else by Elana Wolff for Quill & Quire.

Michael V. Smith’s new poetry collection, Bad Ideas, is comprised of meditations on mourning, longing, sexuality, and gender. Throughout the book are poems about the passing of Smith’s father, poems that question masculinity, and poems that strive for joy. Oh, and there’s a bunch of loveable dogs in there, too.

Read the rest of the review here.