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Covering Indigenous adventures from Ontario?s Walpole Island to Northern Saskatchewan to the BC coast, #IndianLovePoems is a poetry collection that delves into the humour and truths of love and lust within Indigenous communities. Sharing stories in search of The One, or even better, the One-Night-Stand, or the opening of boundaries this collection fearlessly sheds light on the sharing and honesty that comes with discussions of men, women, sex, and relationships, using humour to explore the complexities of race, culture and intent within relationships.
David Groulx’s latest collection offers his readers a handful of poems as cutting and brilliant as glass shards, offering glimpses of the anger, pain and lost beauties of his ancestors. These poems cut deep with their clear-eyed honesty, their stripped away pain and suffering. A subtle weaving of black humour and fleeting touches of beauty, as well at the careful craftsmanship of the writing make these poems iconic. This is a collection that should not be missed.
In his new book of poems, A Matins Flywheel, John Lent brings a life-long fascination with literary forms to the hybrid prose/poetry of a new long poem called “Matins for St. Agnes of The Crossroads: 62nd Avenue and 109th Street, Edmonton,” and to the new, loose, genre-mixing poems and prose sketches about growing up in Edmonton, Lent’s love of jazz, his travel to Prague, and his remembering the writing legacy of Robert Kroetsch. Because these meditations and poems are rooted in the visceral struggles to find the necessary love and honesty required to live through some harrowing health mysteries, these meditations surface close to the bones of our contemporary lives and celebrate an almost unearthly delight of skin and texture and breath and light and love. This writing is not fooling around; it wants a lot. And like the work of Lent’s self-declared models — Robert Kroetsch, Sheila Watson, Eileen Myles, John Berger, W.G. Sebald, Per Petterson, Pierre Michon, Jake Kennedy and Marilyn Robinson — he sings the reader right smack dab back into the density of these times and some of its luminous joys and sorrows. “I feel I have been writing towards this book all my life,” Lent says, explaining what he was trying to do in A Matins Flywheel. “[The book] tries to run with everything I have learned about forms of consciousness in literature into a kind of baffling wonder at the truth of those shattering, fragmented forms themselves, the human exhilaration in them as subject and object.” A Matins Flywheel is an exciting, new book by an accomplished, innovative writer.
Winner, Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers; American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book; Finalist, Lambda Literary Award and Publishing Triangle Award for Trans and Gender Variant Literature
This extraordinary poetry collection is a vivid, beautifully wrought journey to the place where forgotten ancestors live and monstrous women roam–and where the distinctions between body, land, and language are lost. In these fierce yet tender narrative poems, Kai Cheng Thom draws equally from memory and mythology to create new maps of gender, race, sexuality, and violence. In the world of a place called No Homeland, the bodies of the marginalized–queer and transgender communities, survivors of abuse and assault, and children of diaspora–are celebrated, survival songs are sung, and the ancestors offer you forgiveness for not remembering their names.
Descended from the traditions of oral storytelling, spoken word, and queer punk poetry, Kai Cheng Thom’s debut collection is evocative and unforgettable.
I dream warm, wet
That rise and tremble and swell with the moon
To give birth to babies connected
By blue-river veins of memory
Deluxe redesign of the Gerald Lampert Award-winning classic.
On the occasion of the press’s 40th anniversary, Brick Books is proud to present the fourth of six new editions of classic books from our back catalogue. This edition of A Really Good Brown Girl features a new Introduction by Lee Maracle, a new Afterword by the author and a new cover and design by the renowned typographer Robert Bringhurst.
First published in 1996, A Really Good Brown Girl is a fierce, honest and courageous account of what it takes to grow into one’s self and one’s Métis heritage in the face of myriad institutional and cultural obstacles. It is an indispensable contribution to Canadian literature.
I am looking at a school picture, grade five, I am smiling easily … I look poised, settled, like I belong. I won an award that year for most improved student. I learned to follow really well. –from “Memoirs of a Really Good Brown Girl”
“No other book so exonerates us, elevates us and at the same time indicts Canada in language so eloquent it almost hurts to hear it.” –Lee Maracle, from the Introduction
In this poetry collection, Joséphine Bacon challenges our traditional notions of culture and perception, landscape and wilderness, the limits of experience, and the nature of human being. With a surreal blend of emotions and memories, “A Tea in the Tundra / Nipishapui Nete Mushuat” portrays a complex and ever-shifting landscape of possibilities. The author passionately reveals a finely wrought sensibility, which elevates the subtle scenery of life’s everyday events. The French-language edition of this book was shortlisted for the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry.
An extraordinary debut set in Toronto, unfurling against the backdrop of an ancient Persian love story.
The story of Layla and Majnun, made immortal by the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi in the 12th century, has been retold thousands of times, in thousands of different ways, throughout literature. Against the backdrop of this story, to the sound-track of modern hip-hop, and amid the struggle of an immigrant family to instill an old faith under new conditions, Irfan Ali’s Accretion hurtles towards an unsustainable, “greater madness.” Majnun, one of the foundational literary characters who haunt Accretion, is also an Arabic epithet for “possessed.” In this tradition, Ali has written a book from the places where the self is no longer the self; places where, in order not to shut down forever, the debris must be cleared, and the soul must inch towards love and hope, “on memory’s dusty beams.”
Accretion is written in a contemporary lyricism that honours ancient poetic traditions. It is a familiar story, imbued with a particularity and honesty that only Irfan Ali could bring to the table.
“Irfan Ali delves fearlessly into the beauty and cruelty of a utilitarian city and the chasms between people. The struggle between head and heart binds these poems. In fact, Accretion might be considered a roadmap for finding love in everything–ourselves, family, soul mates, urban life, and faith.” –Emily Pohl-Weary, author of Ghost Sick
Jane Byers’ Acquired Community is both a collection of narrative poems about seminal moments in North American lesbian and gay history, mostly post-World War II, and a series of first person poems that act as a touchstone to compare the narrator’s coming out experience within the larger context of the gay liberation movement.
The “parade” poems such as “Celebration Was a Side Effect, 1992” explores the important role parades have played in the queer movement and how they have transformed from activism to celebration. “St Patrick’s Day Parade, 2014” takes the Boston St. Patrick’s Day committee’s homophobia to task, reminding us that this is not ancient history, but an ever-transforming experience. In her long poem, “Keen,” Byers imagines a dialogue between a young queer university student and Michael Lynch, an AIDS activist, poet and scholar who helped found many gay community institutions.
In this compelling poem we are reminded that the AIDS epidemic had a rippling effect, touching the lives of everyone within the gay community and well beyond. In this second book by Byers her poems go beyond the historical perspective of LGBT rights and are living examples of progress. Acquired Community examines and celebrates community resilience.
A poetic primer on mothering and motherhood, After Birth is unflinching in its celebration of new life. Proffering poems that are both alchemical and personal, Elizabeth Ross taps into the contradictions of creation ? joy, distress, lassitude ?all while her speaker tenderly hovers, like Nosferatu, over newborns. After Birth ?blood[ies] the word,? and marks Elizabeth Ross as a writer to watch.
“Intermittently funny, heart-wrenching, clever, and quirky, the book’s potpourri of forms is connected by inventive images and consistently exquisite line breaks. In the sonnet “Elegy”—a standout—Alexander stitches together sarcasm, outrage, and caring description as his speaker looks at an oven-ready roasting chicken.” – Canadian Literature, January 25, 2019, reviewed by Neil Surkan
Poems that form an eloquent, searching contemplation of “the warp and weft of being and nonbeing.”
All the Names Between is Nova Scotia poet Julia McCarthy’s meditative and crackling-with-dark-energy third collection. From her observation of “long-horned beetles… rearranging the landscape” to an apperception of “part of me /…seeded by dust / of meteors and asteroids,” McCarthy makes palpable, in richly layered imagery and with attentiveness that unfolds stillness, the “Singing Emptiness” that informs and quickens the crow’s flight, the stones’ weight, and our own being as we move in “the defined world both elegant / and maimed.” Concerned with both the inadequacy and the necessity of word to convey world, the poems move through a shifting landscape of seasons and creatures, of the remembered dead, and of scattered stones reading the Akashic field.
Grounded in the experience of presence, where the external and internal meet, a crossroads of consciousness where “a language without a name / remembers us” and the poem is a votive act, All the Names Between reflects the shadow-light of being, of what is and what isn’t, the seen and the unseen, the forgotten and the remembered where
every elegy has an ode at its centre
every ode has an elegy around its edges.
(from “Ode with an Elegy around its Edges”)
Praise for All the Names Between:
“It is Julia McCarthy’s incomparable eloquence as a poet to, as an experienced photographer might, wield darkness as an ever more powerful lens to reveal the intricate beauty of the world as she finds it. And it is with this extraordinary vision, that McCarthy ushers us into her newest collection, All the Names Between, ‘where the dead gather like trees in their white coats’ and bats hover overhead, ‘lucifugal as ashes from invisible fires.’ These are poems scintillate with vision and stunningly intimate–showing us page after page the full, and exquisite measure of ‘night’s worth.’” –Clarise Foster, Editor, Contemporary Verse 2
“Here is a book of meditations for even those immune to poetry, a poetry with no comfort zones. McCarthy takes readers to a world where the marriage between solitude and nature gives birth to memorable, haunting lines, where the mystery of poetry lies just between the words. I have no doubt readers will embrace this book as their own.” –Goran Simić, author of Immigrant Blues and From Sarajevo, with Sorrow
AnHonest Woman by Jónína Kirton confronts us with beauty and ugliness in the wholesome riot that is sex, love, and marriage. From the perspective of a mixed-race woman, Kirton engages with Simone de Beauvoir and Donald Trump to unravel the norms of femininity and sexuality that continue to adhere today.
Kirton recalls her own upbringing, during which she was told to find a good husband who would “make an honest woman” out of her. Exploring the lives of many women, including her mother, her contemporaries, and well-known sex-crime stories such as the case of Elisabeth Fritzl, Kirton mines the personal to loosen the grip of patriarchal and colonial impositions.
An Honest Woman explores the many ways the female body is shaped by questions that have been too political to ask: What happens when a woman decides to take her sexuality into her own hands, dismissing cultural norms and the expectations of her parents? How is a young woman’s sexuality influenced when she is perceived as an “exotic” other? Can a woman reconnect with her Indigenous community by choosing Indigenous lovers?
Daring and tender in their honesty and wisdom, these poems challenge the perception of women’s bodies as glamorous and marketable commodities and imagine an embodied female experience that accommodates the role of creativity and a nurturing relationship with the land.
Katie Vatour’s extraordinary debut collection is an eclectic examination of the space where humans and animals meet, where migratory patterns encounter commercial flights, and birds appear as fishermen, security guards, and street performers. There are riffs on the chameleon and lyrebird, odes to buffalo and shark. With poems that are at once intuitive yet idiosyncratic, visceral yet cerebral, and that flourish an unconventional sense of effortless motion, An Unorthodox Guide to Wildlife considers how animals exist in our lives and imaginations: as autonomous beings, as mimics and metaphors of our own lives, and as bellwethers of environmental damage. At times humourous, tragic, or both, these poems tell the story of natural existence in a sometimes unnatural world.
Following Surani’s previous collection Operations, which excavated the debasement done to language by nations worldwide, how does one return to using language for poetry? Are the Rivers in Your Poems Real responds to this question. Amidst the dangers of figurative language, the coercion of sentimentality and the insidious freight of abstraction, these poems embody the necessity for the critical, the communal, the real. This collection uses conceptual critiques of public discourse and experimental social cartographies, as well as lyrics of intimacy, to defy prescribed ways of being.
Are the Rivers in Your Poems Real is an act of resistance against dangerous and domineering narratives, and the power they inscribe.
This poetry collection creatively reveals the beautiful and bitter essences of the world from a distinctive Indigenous female voice. Speaking from her unique Mohawk perspective, the poet unapologetically sings words of wisdom and cultural confidence. By using this creative foundation to unite distinctive communities, she expresses raw emotion throughout her journey toward inner peace from a uniquely Indigenous point of view. It is this strong expression that the poet hopes will become a global guide for her communities to follow and interpret while encountering their truths and identity.
Whether speaking of erotic love, domestic life, spiritual wilderness, or family entanglements, the poems of Auguries, the much-anticipated second collection from Yukon poet Clea Roberts, are saturated with their northern landscape. Roberts is well versed in the distances and dynamics between tedium and ecstasy, light and dark, isolation and solitude, freeze and thaw, flow and stillness. Her poems are spare and clean, each like a single larch in an immense white plain; their exactness startling and arresting. As the Gerald Lampert Award jury citation for her celebrated first book noted, “Her images . . . are not only crisp and precise, but manage to speak about the physical conditions of this place and its emotional landscape in one and the same lyrical breath . . .”
Written during a period in which Roberts both became a parent and lost a parent, the poems in Auguries lend themselves to prayer, surrender, celebration, reconciliation, meditation, and auspice.
how to breathe
and the beautiful,
slow with cold. (from “Cold Snap”)
“Clea Roberts writes poems of clear, quiet beauty. They contain the silence of perception: alive to the world with open eye and open heart.” — Anne Michaels
A gender-fluid trickster character leaps from Cree stories to inhabit this racous and rebellious new work by award-winning poet Louise Bernice Halfe.
There are no pronouns in Cree for gender; awâsis (which means illuminated child) reveals herself through shape-shifting, adopting different genders, exploring the English language with merriment, and sharing his journey of mishaps with humor, mystery, and spirituality. Opening with a joyful and intimate Introduction from Elder Maria Campbell, awâsis – kinky and dishevelled is a force of Indigenous resurgence, resistance, and soul-healing laughter.
If you’ve read Halfe’s previous books, prepared to be surprised by this one. Raging in the dark, uncovering the painful facts wrought on her and her people’s lives by colonialism, racism, religion, and residential schools, she has walked us through raw realities with unabashed courage and intense, precise lyricism. But for her fifth book, another choice presented itself. Would she carve her way with determined ferocity into the still-powerful destructive forces of colonialism, despite Canada’s official, hollow promises to make things better? After a soul-searching Truth and Reconciliation process, the drinking water still hasn’t improved, and Louise began to wonder whether inspiration had deserted her.
Then awâsis showed up–a trickster, teacher, healer, wheeler-dealer, shapeshifter, woman, man, nuisance, inspiration. A Holy Fool with their fly open, speaking Cree, awâsis came to Louise out of the ancient stories of her people, her Elders, from community input (through tears and laughter), from her own full heart and her three-dimensional dreams. Following awâsis’s lead, Louise has flipped her blanket over, revealing a joking, mischievous, unapologetic alter ego–right on time.
“Louise Halfe knows, without question, how to make miyo-iskotêw, a beautiful fire with her kindling of words and moss gathered from a sacred place known only to her, to the Old Ones. These poems, sharp and crackling, are among one of the most beautiful fires I’ve ever sat beside.” –Gregory Scofield, author of Witness, I Am
“Louise makes awâsis out of irreverent sacred text. The darkness enlightens. She uses humor as a scalpel and sometimes as a butcher knife, to cut away, or hack off, our hurts, our pain, our grief and our traumas. In the end we laugh and laugh and laugh.” –Harold R. Johnson, author of Peace and Good Order: The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada
“This is all about Indigenizing and reconciliation among ourselves. It’s the kind of funny, shake up, poking, smacking and farting we all need while laughing our guts out. It’s beautiful, gentle and loving.” –Maria Campbell, author of Halfbreed (from the Introduction)
“There really isn’t any template for telling stories as experienced from within Indigenous minds. In her book awâsis – kinky and dishevelled, Cree poet Louise Bernice Halfe – Skydancer presents a whole new way to experience story poems. It’s kinda like she writes in English but thinks in Cree. Lovely, revealing, funny, stunning. A whole new way to write!” –Buffy Sainte-Marie
Much of the language that makes up Better Nature—the first book-length poetry collection by writer and academic Fenn Stewart—is drawn from a diary that Walt Whitman wrote while travelling through Canada at the end of the nineteenth century.
But rather than waxing poetic about the untouched Great White North, Stewart inlays found materials (early settler archives, news stories, email spam, fundraising for environmental NGOs, and more) to present a unique view of Canada’s “pioneering” attitude towards “wilderness”—one that considers deeper issues of the settler appropriation of Indigenous lands, the notion of terra nullius, and the strategies and techniques used to produce a “better nature” (that is, one that better serves the nation).