Poetry City lands in Toronto, digitally and physically!
April 23, 2014
Emma Healey writes about a slightly self-conscious Toronto in today's poem, taken from her first full-length poetry collection, Begin with the End in Mind, published by ARP Books. Called "strange, seductive, and brainy" by Emily Schultz, Healey's collection of prose poems is definitely worth a look!
Emma Healey writes about a slightly self-conscious Toronto in today’s poem, taken from her first full-length poetry collection Begin with the End in Mind, published by ARP Books. Called “strange, seductive, and brainy” by Emily Schultz, Healey’s collection of prose poems is definitely worth a look!
And speaking of Toronto, if you’re in the city tonight don’t forget to stop by Ben McNally Books at 6 pm for some more poetry in celebration of National Poetry Month with Andrew Faulkner, Julie Joosten, Niki Koulouris, Kathryn Mockler, and Mike Spry.
Notes on “Torontoist” from Emma Healey
I grew up in Toronto and have been here on and off again for a while, but I actually wrote this poem when I was living in Ireland a few years ago. It was frustrating – I wanted to write about where I was at the time, but instead I kept doubling back. I guess you always project your own internal mess onto any place that feels familiar, but Toronto in particular has always felt like a dumb mood I can’t shake. My own personal baseline is a completely impractical mix of crippling self-doubt and unearned, childish self-assurance, but that’s also the GTA’s civic slogan, so it all ends up fitting together. There's a chorus you can hear in the air if you walk around Toronto long enough – Are we a world-class city? What does it mean to be us? Does anyone care? Does it matter? – that feels, sometimes, like SONAR repeating my own worst thoughts right back at me. Your own mind is a strange place to live, to choose to live in. Toronto's alright.
About Begin with the End in Mind
As a writer, I’m often preoccupied with the tug-of-war that can start to develop between a self and a place if one of them stays where they are long enough. The ways you navigate your city that don’t have to do with streets, how you and your apartment start encroaching on each others’ inner lives. The borders between you and what you live in always corrode and dissolve in weird spots. Things intrude, and I think a lot of the poems in Begin with the End in Mind ended up shot through with that intrusion, even when I didn’t intend it. Some of the poems in the book (like "Torontoist") are specific about their locations, but what’s always pulled my attention back hardest are the ways in which things that aren’t geography or jurisdiction end up marking off borders for you. Like, the "National Research Council Official Time Signal" has always felt far more real to me, as a place, than actual Canada, which I could barely point out to you on a map.
About Emma Healey
Emma Healey is a writer and editor who currently lives in Toronto or Montreal. Her fiction, poetry and non-fiction have been featured in various publications including Matrix, Joyland, Maisonneuve, Broken Pencil, the National Post, the Toronto Star, Said the Gramophone, the Void, CV2, and Lemon Hound. She was the recipient of the Irving Layton award for poetry in both 2010 and 2013. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of the Incongruous Quarterly, an online literary magazine devoted to the publication of unpublishable literature. You can follow her on twitter here.
Want more Emma? Check out Emma’s entry in our Writer’s Block column.
What other people are saying about Begin with the End in Mind
“These are poems that demand you pay attention. Pithy and persuasive, Healey’s “Heritage Moments” series in particular knocks out an offbeat version of the Canadian National Anthem that makes me want to rise and place hand over heart. Begin with the End in Mind is strange, seductive, and brainy.” —Emily Schultz, author of Songs for the Dancing Chicken and The Blondes
“Who needs a tightrope to stroll across Niagara Falls when you have the prose poem—pliable, surreal, infinitely hackable. These poems from Emma Healey signal the arrival of an exciting, nimble, new voice.” —Sina Queyras, author of Expressway and Lemon Hound
“Through the lens of Emma Healey’s poetry the narratives by which Canadian identity has been (and continues to be) formed are re-envisioned in powerful and at times poignant poems of profound personal and political import.” —Phillip Coleman, The Penny Dreadful
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