2022 ReLit Award Finalists

The ReLit Awards celebrate the best in poetry, short fiction, and novels published by independent Canadian presses every year. We love to see it! Browse the ALU finalists here.

All Books in this Collection

Showing 17–32 of 54 results

  • Falling for Myself

    Falling for Myself


    In this searing and seriously funny memoir, Dorothy Ellen Palmer falls down, a lot, and spends a lifetime learning to appreciate her disability. Born with two very different, very tiny feet, she was adopted as a toddler by an already wounded 1950s family. From childhood surgeries to decades as a feminist teacher, mom, improv coach and unionist, she tried to hide being different. But now, standing proud with her walker, she’s sharing her journey. Navigating abandonment, abuse and ableism, she finds her birth parents and a new chosen family in the disability community.

  • Flyway



    This Meditation on the impact of human and ecological trauma explores the cost of survival for three generations of women living between empires. Writing from within the disappearing tallgrass prairie, Sarah Ens follows connections between the Russian Mennonite diaspora and the disrupted migratory patterns of grassland birds. Drawing on family history, eco-poetics, and the rich tradition of the Canadian long poem, Flyway migrates along pathways of geography and the heart to grapple with complexities of home.

  • For As Far as the Eye Can See

    For As Far as the Eye Can See


    In a world where text is “as fluid as the rain we see running in the streets,” and the printed word “a monument as fragile as the grass,” what is the place of poetry? Impressionistic, seasonal, inspired by the Pléiade and the poets of present-day Québec, this calendar of 144 “light sonnets” is a measured meditation on art and mutability.

  • Fuse



    Drawing on her own experiences as a woman of Iranian and British Isle descent, writer Hollay Ghadery dives into conflicts and uncertainty surrounding the bi-racial female body and identity, especially as it butts up against the disparate expectations of each culture. Painfully and at times, reluctantly, Fuse probes and explores the documented prevalence of mental health issues in bi-racial women.

  • God Don’t Make No Junk

    God Don’t Make No Junk


    Accompany Bobbie as she traces back the path of her life; from her Ojibwa roots to her rejection of her culture following the horrific abuse she endured during her childhood. She reflects on her life with sadness and humor recalling her tumultuous marriage and divorce, her life as a single parent, her battle with drugs and alcohol and the long road back to her traditions that took decades.

  • Grey All Over

    Grey All Over


    “Please stay with me, please stay here, please cause poltergeists in my stupid apartment…”

    Late in the evening of December 13, 2007, Andrea Actis found her father, Jeff, facedown dead in her East Vancouver apartment. So began her passage through grief, self-reckoning, and graduate school in Providence, Rhode Island, where the poetics she studied (and sometimes repudiated) became integral to her gradual reconstruction of wholeness. An assemblage of “evidence” recovered from emails about paranormal encounters sent and received by Jeff (greyallover@yahoo.com), junk mail from false prophets, an annotated excerpt from Laura (Riding) Jackson’s The Serious Angels: A True Story, and transcripts of Actis’ dreams, conversations, and messages to the dead, Grey All Over not only celebrates a rare, close, complicated father-daughter bond, it also boldly expands the empathetic and critical capacities of poetry itself. In pulling us outside the comfort zones of received aesthetics and social norms, Actis asks us to embrace with whole seriousness “the pragmatics of intuition” in all the ways we read, live, and love.

    “When a loved one dies, there’s all this stuff to deal with, and in the midst of grief we begin to collect, sort, document, store, and discard. Andrea Actis has taken the stuff surrounding her father’s death and created a book that is, like grief, in turns heartbreaking, wise, chaotic, drunk, wry, and always unflinchingly honest. This powerful testament of survival is for anyone who has felt the ‘déjà vu in reverse’ of grief. It is for the living.” –Sachiko Murakami, author of Render

    “Love letter, experimental poem, meditation, conversation with the dead–Andrea Actis’s compelling debut is unlike any memoir I’ve ever read. In one passage, Actis digs out the biggest piece of bone she can find in the vessel of her father’s ashes and gently bites on it. Reading Grey All Over I had a similar sensation. Ash. Bone. Love.” –Jen Currin, author of Hider/Seeker

    “This absolutely beautiful work makes plain that seriousness feels like love.” –Aisha Sasha John, author of I have to live.

  • I Have Lived Four Lives

    I Have Lived Four Lives


    Commencing by explaining how the word Ininew?refers to the phrase ?mixing of four,?Wilfred Buck embarks upon a series of dazzling stories: ?herein is the story of how I lived and how I died and how I lived again along with the dreams I have dreamed and the visions I have seen.? In this unique collection of writings Buck, an Ininew Dream Keeper (Pawami niki titi cikiw), illustrates, four separate stages of personal experience. The stories in I Have Lived Four Lives? are designed as aids to the discovery and healing for Indigenous youth, and encompass a range of hilarious and vivid recollections that revolve around visions and dreams, and that ultimately trace Buck?s path to becoming a teacher in Indigenous cosmology and astronomy.

  • I, Gloria Grahame

    I, Gloria Grahame


    Shortlisted for the 2022 ReLit Award

    A professor of English literature writes the autobiography of his fantasy alter-ego, wanton movie star Gloria Grahame, while his own sexual desires go frustrated.

    Denton Moulton ? a shy, effeminate male professor ? lives inside his head, where he is really a long-dead movie star: the glamorous Gloria Grahame, from the golden age of Hollywood. Professor Moulton is desperate to reveal Gloria?s shocking secret before he dies. Does he have the right to tell this woman?s story? Who, in fact, has the right to tell anyone?s story at all?

    A scandalous, humorous novel of taboo desires and repression, I, Gloria Grahame alternates between Gloria?s imagined life with her film-director husband, Nicholas Ray, director of Rebel Without a Cause, and Denton?s increasingly frustrated real-life attempts to produce his own work of art: an all-male drag production of Shakespeare?s Venus and Adonis. The novel takes us from high-strung film sets to dark bars and the puritanical offices of government arts granting agencies, where Denton runs up against the sternest warnings that he may not, in fact, imagine himself as someone else, even in art.


  • In the Flesh

    In the Flesh


    Living is a process of continuous transformation: we have been embryos, children, adolescents, thin, fat, sick, better again. And as humans, we are always at odds with at least one part of our bodies. Have we inherited the family nose? Is there nothing to be done for our finicky stomach or our limp hair?

    In the Flesh is an intelligent, witty, and provocative look at how we think about—and live within—our bodies. The editors and writers in this collection describe what human bodies feel now. Each author’s candid essay focuses on one part of the body, and explores its function, its meanings, and the role it has played in his or her life.

    Featuring original essays by Caroline Adderson, André Alexis, Taiaiake Alfred, Brian Brett, Trevor Cole, Dede Crane, Lorna Crozier, Candace Fertile, Stephen Gauer, Julian Gunn, Heather Kuttai, Susan Olding, Kathy Page, Kate Pullinger, Merilyn Simonds, Richard Steel, Madeleine Thien, Sue Thomas, Margaret Thompson, and Lynne Van Luven.

  • In the Shadow of Evil

    In the Shadow of Evil


    This is the second novel by Beatrice Culleton Mosionier. This murder mystery is set in the foothills of the Rockies. The main character, Christine, is a Métis woman who struggles to deal with the sudden loss of her husband and child. Haunted by her own childhood of a broken family, sibling rivalry and foster homes, Christine’s life suddenly unravels revealing the ghosts and events of her past. All is brought to a suspenseful and surprising conclusion.

  • Ink Earl

    Ink Earl


    Shortlisted for the ReLit 2022 Poetry Award

    ink earl takes the popular subgenre of erasure poetry to its illogical conclusion.

    Starting with ad copy that extols the iconic Pink Pearl eraser, Holbrook erases and erases, revealing more and more. Rubbing out different words from this decidedly non-literary, noncanonical source text, she was left with the promise of “100 essays” and set about to find them. Among her discoveries are queer love poems, art projects, political commentary, lunch, songs, and entire extended families.

    The absurdity of the constraint lends itself to plenty of fun and funny, while reminding us of truths assiduously erased by normative forces. ink earl’s variations are testament in micro to the act of poiesis as not so much a building as an intrepid series of effacements; we rub away at the walls of language we’ve lived within in order to release both what’s been written over, and what we want to say now.

  • Instructor





    When Ydessa Bloom’s husband dies in a Cessna crash in a mid-Ontario lake, she rents a cottage at that lake, without really comprehending why, and stays for three months. There she meets three people who will influence her life dramatically—her landlady, a yoga teacher, and a precocious eight-year-old boy named Henry Rattle.

    Years later, at the age of twenty-five and reeling from personal tragedy, Henry seeks Ydessa out once again, and they find themselves alone on the day of the Northeast blackout, drawn into an encounter that will change them both.

    In Instructor, Beth Follett magnificently follows the natural tendencies of the human mind to dart and drift, to leap and eddy, creating an utterly compelling narrative at once patient and enthralling. Through grief, wonder, and introspection, Instructor captures the fluidity of the self, carrying readers away in the current of Follett’s inescapable prose.

  • Just Like a Real Person

    Just Like a Real Person


    Just Like a Real Person is a story about broken cars and broken people. A story of intoxication, sobriety, and potent memories of a woman in a yellow sundress. But, it’s also a story about love that asks what it means to finally feel, after years of feeling nothing but numb.

    The story begins with a crash, and throughout the story, we bear witness to many more – both literal and metaphorical – as cars wrap around lamp posts and jump medians, and as the humans inside them are unknotted from smouldering metal and the entanglements of their choices.

    “He” is a nameless, indiscriminate addict. A fuck-up without a driver’s license, who has caused forty-two car crashes in eight years, and makes his living by picking through the shattered belongings and lives he leaves behind. “She” is Lola, and Lola is unsure where she’s going, just that it’s far from there.

    Disorienting as an acid trip, the story winds through the aftermath, watching as he collides with recovery, women, and his own imperfect recollections while searching for the elusive girl in the yellow sundress.

  • Monster Child

    Monster Child


    In this powerful debut novel set in the spring of 2000, Rahela Nayebzadah introduces three unforgettable characters: Beh, Shabnam and Alif. In a world swirling with secrets, racism and danger we watch through the eyes of these three children as Nayebzadah’s family of Afghan immigrants try to find their way in an often uncaring Canadian society. But as the sexual assault of thirteen-year-old Beh spirals into a series of terrible events that threaten to unleash the past and destroy the family, the reader is left wondering who is the monster child? Is it Beh, who says she is called a disease? Is it Shabnam, who cries tears of blood? Is it Alif, who in the end declares, “We are a family of monsters”? Or are the monsters all around us?

  • Nothing Without Us Too

    Nothing Without Us Too


    Nothing Without Us Too follows the theme of Nothing Without Us (a 2020 Prix Aurora Award finalist), featuring more stories by authors who are disabled, d/Deaf or hard-of-hearing, Blind or visually impaired, neurodivergent, Spoonie, and/or who manage mental illness. The lived experiences of their protagonists are found across many demographics–such as race, culture, financial status, religion, gender, age, and/or sexual orientation. We want to present these stories because diversity is reality, and it belongs in literary and genre fiction.

    So, whether we’re being welcomed to Sensory Hell by hotel staff, witnessing a stare-down between a convenience store worker and an arrogant vampire, or unsure if our social media account is magic, these tales can teleport us elsewhere yet resonate deep within.

  • Our Inland Sea

    Our Inland Sea


    Step right up to Our Inland Sea!

    • Watch a funnel cloud pick a fight with a Ferris wheel!
    • Visit ghost towns of Ontario and China!
    • Tour the reclaimed Goldrush Hotel!
    • Meet the genius who realized windows are the opposite of mirrors!
    • Witness critics who wrangle yeti!
    • Learn about worms that like to be watched!

    With fantastical imagery and sharp pacing, these lines pull you into a carnival world where Stephen Harper might walk you to school, and Gordon Lish takes over a poem. In the pages of James Lindsay’s incredible new book, Our Inland Sea, you will discover all these marvels and many more.