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Poetry

April was National Poetry Month, and we celebrated with these new poetry collections, many of which are from Canadian poets.


Searching for Signal

- by Lori Cayer

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Searching for Signal is a long poem that bears witness to the quotidian, disorienting shifts of grief as a father makes his way toward his death over 3 seasons. This is mourning conducted in situ, the gift of observing one man quietly taking his leave and the impacted hole it leaves behind. The language is mix of narrative lyric and fragmentary breath-spaced verse; the silences are his private silences, alluding to memory, family trauma and shame. The hunter, the gatherer who never stopped trying for epiphanies, a daughter engaged in the same effort, frankly facing the span of a swift human lifetime that may pass without revelation or resolution. If there is redemption it is in the daughter bringing clarity to the physical condition of living and dying and the emotional intricacies of existence.

The Trailer

- by James Scoles

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The Trailer explores the subtle art of balancing life on the edge of a city--indeed, perched precariously, metaphorically on the fringe of society--not exactly following a script for keeping up with the Joneses. The experiences of love and loss while living on that (not exactly) sharp edge build the foundation in this collection. Stylistically, the poems vary as they dig through the detritus daily to reveal the joy, beauty, and humour within the world of thin tin-walled hope and melamine dreams of a mobile home, of a live lived lagging just a little behind.

Hollywood Forever

- by Harmony Holiday

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Holiday curates poems-as-text and image-as-impression, lyricism and activism. The "legacies" of Miles Davis and MLK and Billie Holiday and other icons collide, harnessing taboos they upheld triumphantly. Layers of a story coalesce in restricted space producing ghettos, or a mythological advertising omniverse wherein shadow and light integrate, complicating our fantasies.

The New Mythology Begins to Love me

With an immediacy that seems at once artless and profoundly sophisticated. You know how Billie Holiday sounds vague and precise like an unmarked grave that might your father's but he had another name for his disappearance, he called it love eventfully shattered with enough of it

I heard black people don't get depressed, besides as luxury, and the bible says. What's popular now is the way the miracle of pure style cures or is it curses, crosses our heart, hopes to hide of what it don't get while new angels sing hexes into bottles of northern comfort. Uproar. Jesus, already these myths are obsolete too and fresh the cold details he was bleeding his twisted love into. He was bleeding his twisted love. He was bleeding his twisted love. He was bleeding his twisted love.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, poet and choreographerHarmony Holidaywas educated at the University of California, Berkeley and at Columbia University. Her debut collection of poems,Negro League Baseball(2011), won the Motherwell Prize.Go Find your Father/A Famous Blues, a "dos-a-dos" book featuring poetry, letters and essays, came out in late 2013. Holiday lives in Los Angeles.

Permanent Carnival Time

- by Colin Smith

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I'd rather have a transorbital lobotomy / Than a transnational economy. In his new book of poetry, Colin Smith's droll humour and meticulous control of language are metered out to explore the stakes of pain and the pain of folly. Language plays throughout the text, bringing a blithe tone to dark matters, and evoking fruitful tensions for the reader. Scattered topics of climate change, labour disputes, war, and massive inequities within cities are encountered by a voice that seems to scorn humanity as much as it delights in human language. Permanent Carnival Time is laugh-out-loud language poetry.

How to Love the World

- by James Crews

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What the world needs now featuring poems from inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, Ross Gay, Tracy K. Smith and more.

More and more people are turning to poetry as an antidote to divisiveness, negativity, anxiety, and the frenetic pace of life. How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope offers readers uplifting, deeply felt, and relatable poems by well-known poets from all walks of life and all parts of the US, including inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, Joy Harjo, Naomi Shihab Nye, Ross Gay, Tracy K. Smith, and others. The work of these poets captures the beauty, pleasure, and connection readers hunger for. How to Love the World, which contains new works by Ted Kooser, Mark Nepo, and Jane Hirshfield, invites readers to use poetry as part of their daily gratitude practice to uncover the simple gifts of abundance and joy to be found everywhere. With pauses for stillness and invitations for writing and reflection throughout, as well as reading group questions and topics for discussion in the back, this book can be used to facilitate discussion in a classroom or in any group setting.

Word Problems

- by Ian Williams

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From Ian Williams, author of Reproduction, winner of the Giller Prize and a June 2020 Indie Next Great Read Frustrated by how tough the issues of our time are to solve âEUR" racial inequality, our pernicious depression, the troubled relationships we have with other people âEUR" Ian Williams revisits the seemingly simple questions of grade school for inspiration: if Billy has five nickels and Jane hasthree dimes, how many Black men will be murdered by police? He finds no satisfaction, realizing that maybe there are no easy answers to ineffable questions. Williams uses his characteristic inventiveness to find not just new answers but new questions, reconsidering what poetry can be, using math and grammar lessons to shape poems that invite us to participate. Two long poems cut through the text like vibrating bass notes, curiosities circle endlessly, and microaggressions spin into lyric. And all done with a light touch and a joyful sense of humour.

Zom-Fam

- by Kama La Mackerel

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In their debut poetry collection, Kama La Mackerel mythologizes a queer/trans narrative of and for their home island, Mauritius. Composed of expansive lyric poems, ZOM-FAM (meaning "man-woman" or "transgender" in Mauritian Kreol) is a voyage into the coming of age of a gender-creative child growing up in the 80s and 90s on the plantation island, as they seek vocabularies for loving and honouring their queer/trans self amidst the legacy of colonial silences. Multiply voiced and imbued with complex storytelling, ZOM-FAM showcases a fluid narrative that summons ancestral voices, femme tongues, broken colonial languages, and a tender queer subjectivity, all of which grapple with the legacy of plantation servitude.

Emerging from a creative process in spoken word and live performance, these poems transform the page into a stage where the queer femme body is written and mapped onto the colonial space of the home/island. Interwoven with Kreol, ZOM-FAM showcases a unique lyrical sensibility, a musicality influenced by the both unforgiving and soothing rhythms of the ocean, where the poet enunciates the complexity of their displaced Indo-African roots, "the lineage of silence / that we weave in-between our intimacies."

Home Body

- by Rupi Kaur

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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey and the sun and her flowers comes her greatly anticipated third collection of poetry.

rupi kaur constantly embraces growth, and in home body, she walks readers through a reflective and intimate journey visiting the past, the present, and the potential of the self. home body is a collection of raw, honest conversations with oneself - reminding readers to fill up on love, acceptance, community, family, and embrace change. illustrated by the author, themes of nature and nurture, light and dark, rest here.

i dive into the well of my body
and end up in another world
everything i need
already exists in me
there's no need
to look anywhere else
--home

Dearly

- by Margaret Atwood

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

The collection of a lifetime from the bestselling novelist and poet.


By turns moving, playful and wise, the poems gathered in Dearly are about absences and endings, ageing and retrospection, but also about gifts and renewals. They explore bodies and minds in transition, as well as the everyday objects and rituals that embed us in the present. Werewolves, sirens and dreams make their appearance, as do various forms of animal life and fragments of our damaged environment.

Before she became one of the world's most important and loved novelists, Atwood was a poet. Dearly is her first collection in over a decade. It brings together many of her most recognizable and celebrated themes, but distilled - from minutely perfect descriptions of the natural world to startlingly witty encounters with aliens, from pressing political issues to myth and legend. It is a pure Atwood delight, and long-term readers and new fans alike will treasure its insight, empathy and humour.

Poetry Pharmacy

- by William Sieghart

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'Truly a marvellous collection ... There is balm for the soul, fire for the belly, a cooling compress for the fevered brow, solace for the wounded, an arm around the lonely shoulder - the whole collection is a matchless compound of hug, tonic and kiss' Stephen Fry

Sometimes only a poem will do. These poetic prescriptions and wise words of advice offer comfort, delight and inspiration for all; a space for reflection, and that precious realization - I'm not the only one who feels like this.

In the years since he first had the idea of prescribing short, powerful poems for all manner of spiritual ailments, William Sieghart has taken his Poetry Pharmacy around the length and breadth of Britain, into the pages of the Guardian, onto BBC Radio 4 and onto the television, honing his prescriptions all the time. This pocket-sized book presents the most essential poems in his dispensary: those which, again and again, have really shown themselves to work. Whether you are suffering from loneliness, lack of courage, heartbreak, hopelessness, or even from an excess of ego, there is something here to ease your pain.

'The book is delightful; it rightly resituates poetry in relation to its biggest and most serious task: helping us to live and die well' Alain de Botton

Beowulf

- by Maria D. Headley

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Picked for Kirkus Reviews' Best Fiction in Translation of 2020. Named a Book of the Year by NPR, Vox, and The New Statesman. Picked for Loyalty Books' Holiday List.

A new, feminist translation of Beowulf by the author of the much-buzzed-about novel The Mere Wife

"Brash and belligerent, lunatic and invigorating, with passages of sublime poetry punctuated by obscenities and social-media shorthand." --Ruth Franklin, The New Yorker

"The author of the crazy-cool Beowulf-inspired novel The Mere Wife tackles the Old English epic poem with a fierce new feminist translation that radically recontextualizes the tale." --Barbara VanDenburgh, USA Today

Nearly twenty years after Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf--and fifty years after the translation that continues to torment high-school students around the world--there is a radical new verse translation of the epic poem by Maria Dahvana Headley, which brings to light elements that have never before been translated into English, recontextualizing the binary narrative of monsters and heroes into a tale in which the two categories often entwine, justice is rarely served, and dragons live among us.

A man seeks to prove himself as a hero. A monster seeks silence in his territory. A warrior seeks to avenge her murdered son. A dragon ends it all. The familiar elements of the epic poem are seen with a novelist's eye toward gender, genre, and history--Beowulf has always been a tale of entitlement and encroachment, powerful men seeking to become more powerful, and one woman seeking justice for her child, but this version brings new context to an old story. While crafting her contemporary adaptation of Beowulf, Headley unearthed significant shifts lost over centuries of translation.

Averno

- by Louise Gluck

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WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE

Averno is a small crater lake in southern Italy, regarded by the ancient Romans as the entrance to the underworld. That place gives its name to Louise Glück's tenth collection: in a landscape turned irretrievably to winter, it is a gate or passageway that invites traffic between worlds while at the same time resisting their reconciliation. Averno is an extended lamentation, its long, restless poems no less spellbinding for being without conventional resoltution or consolation, no less ravishing for being savage, grief-stricken. What Averno provides is not a map to a point of arrival or departure, but a diagram of where we are, the harrowing, enduring present.

Averno is a 2006 National Book Award Finalist for Poetry.

God I Feel Modern Tonight

- by Catherine Cohen

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Poems of heartbreak and sex, self-care and self-critique, urban adventures and love on the road from the millennial quarantine queen and comedy sensation.
 
in L.A. we got naked and swam in the ocean
we ate cured meats and carrots
& sat in the back of a red pickup truck
like we were in a film where two old friends fight
& wrestle their way into a hug
heave-sobbing as the dust settles
I want to be famous for being the first person
who never feels bad again
 
In these short, captivating lyrics, Catherine Cohen, the one-woman stand-up chanteuse who electrified the downtown NYC comedy scene in her white go-go boots, and who has been posting poignant, unfiltered poems on social media since before Instagram was a thing, details her life on the prowl with her beaded bag; she ponders guys who call you "dude" after sex, true love during the pandemic, and English-major dreams. "I wish I were smart instead of on my phone," Cat Cohen confides; "heartbreak, / when it comes, and it will come / is always new." A Dorothy Parker for our time, a Starbucks philosophe with no primary-care doctor, she's a welcome new breed of everywoman--a larger-than-life best friend, who will say all the outrageous things we think but never say out loud ourselves.

Ex Nihilo

- by J. R. Leveille

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A bilingual collection of renga poetry by two of Canada's most celebrated poets in English and in French, each writing in his respective language in response to the other. A project of discourse itself, shared in dialogue between two poets, as they explore Novalis' definition of poetry as "the truly absolute real." The poetic act is world-changing, the agglomeration of atoms as they fall through space - a sort of "elective affinity", or state of grace - to constitute Being. If Lao Tzu reminds us that the Dao that can be named is not the eternal Dao, this renga, suffused with elements of the natural world, also recognizes that, in the words of Angelus Silesius, ''the unnameable, which we usually call God, is expressed and revealed through the Word.'' Léveillé and Bloggett share an unprecedented dialogue that possesses both paradox and complete clarity of word in Canada's two official languages.

Creeland

- by Dallas Hunt

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Creeland is a poetry collection concerned with notions of home and the quotidian attachments we feel to those notions, even across great distances. Even in an area such as Treaty Eight (northern Alberta), a geography decimated by resource extraction and development, people are creating, living, laughing, surviving and flourishing--or at least attempting to. The poems in this collection are preoccupied with the role of Indigenous aesthetics in the creation and nurturing of complex Indigenous lifeworlds. They aim to honour the encounters that everyday Cree economies enable, and the words that try--and ultimately fail--to articulate them. Hunt gestures to the movements, speech acts and relations that exceed available vocabularies, that may be housed within words like joy, but which the words themselves cannot fully convey. This debut collection is vital in the context of a colonial aesthetic designed to perpetually foreclose on Indigenous futures and erase Indigenous existence. the Cree word for constellation is a saskatoon berry bush in summertime the translation for policeman in Cree is mîci nisôkan, kohkôs the translation for genius in Cree is my kôhkom muttering in her sleep the Cree word for poetry is your four-year-old niece's cracked lips spilling out broken syllables of nêhiyawêwin in between the gaps in her teeth