Winner of the 2018 Lansdowne Prize for Poetry
It was a long silence that brought me to the erasure poem. Not mine, but my brother's, during his many months in a coma. I came across a notebook of his--a pocket-sized, handwritten field guide of prairie grasses. I read it for companionship, signs of consciousness, attention. I read it for the rhythms of his still and distant hand. ... I was reading a taxonomy of grief: silique drifted into soliloquy.
Comma is a poetry infused with pause and quaver, inspired by Jennifer Still's collaboration with her ailing brother's hand-written field guide to prairie grasses. Trusting the instability of words, she attends to torn paper, shadings, erasures, and intervals, venturing inside the chrysalis, the breathing tube, and the brittle lexicon of botany to achieve a lyrical foliation of grief. From coma to comma, the held breath sprouts, and hums.
Praise for Comma
Comma is a living, breathing field guide to the unconscious--Still's poems flicker and leap from the page. This collection is an immersive, tactile wonder, a compassionate, steadfast companion: a truly remarkable exploration by a truly remarkable artist. --Christine Fellows, singer/songwriter/poet and author of Burning Daylight
Jennifer Still's poetry has appeared in numerous Canadian journals such as spring, Other Voices, New West Review, Fiddlehead, Prairie Fire and Event, and has been broadcast on CBC radio. She is co-founder of the chapbook publisher, JackPine Press and lives in Saskatoon with her husband and daughter.