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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.


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Goldenrod

- by Maggie Smith

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"To read Maggie Smith is to embrace the achingly precious beauty of the present moment." --Time

From the award-winning poet and bestselling author of Keep Moving and Good Bones, a stunning poetry collection that celebrates the beauty and messiness of life.

With her breakout bestseller Keep Moving, Maggie Smith captured the nation with her "meditations on kindness and hope" (NPR). Now, with Goldenrod, the award-winning poet returns with a powerful collection of poems that look at parenthood, solitude, love, and memory. Pulling objects from everyday life--a hallway mirror, a rock found in her son's pocket, a field of goldenrods at the side of the road--she reveals the magic of the present moment. Only Maggie Smith could turn an autocorrect mistake into a line of poetry, musing that her phone "doesn't observe / the high holidays, autocorrecting / shana tova to shaman tobacco, / Rosh Hashanah to rose has hands."

Slate called Smith's "superpower as a writer" her "ability to find the perfect concrete metaphor for inchoate human emotions and explore it with empathy and honesty." The poems in Goldenrod celebrate the contours of daily life, explore and delight in the space between thought and experience, and remind us that we decide what is beautiful.

Letters in a Bruised Cosmos

- by Liz Howard

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The latest from the author of the Griffin Poetry Prize Award-winning collection Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent.

I have to believe my account will outpace its ending.


The danger and necessity of living with each other is at the core of Liz Howard's daring and intimate second collection. Letters in a Bruised Cosmos asks who do we become after the worst has happened? Invoking the knowledge histories of Western and Indigenous astrophysical science, Howard takes us on a breakneck river course of radiant and perilous survival in which we are invited to "reforge [ourselves] inside tomorrow's humidex". Everyday observation, family history, and personal tragedy are sublimated here in a propulsive verse that is relentlessly its own. Part autobiography, part philosophical puzzlement, part love song, Letters in a Bruised Cosmos is a book that once read will not soon be forgotten.  
 

Cattail Skyline

- by Joanne Epp

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In her second poetry collection, Joanne Epp ventures from open prairie roads into little creek beds, down onto the warm earth of strawberry patches and far afield to the busy markets of Cambodia to examine the intimate ways we come to know and experience place. With vivid detail and a sense of quiet reverence, Cattail Skyline captures a myriad of landscapes where every change of season and slant of light reveals something previously unnoticed, and where even the most well- trodden paths hold the potential for new discovery.

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 - racial inequality, our pernicious depression, the troubled relationships we have with other people - 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.

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