On CBC Books' list of 29 works of Canadian poetry to watch for in spring 2020
In Tanja Bartel’s riveting poetry debut, the bucolic Vancouver suburbs clash with the interpersonal. The reader dips into the lives of individuals whose day-to-day is anything but peaceful, altered by luck and choice, fear and failure. In poems that light upon themes such as regret, guilt, and human empathy, Bartel highlights the arbitrary nature of life and the demons that persist within.
Unsentimental and blunt, but ultimately forgiving, Everyone at This Party scans the suburbs and tries to make sense of our private selves.
"To be a willing attendee to Bartel's 'party,' means pulling up a bar stool and being prepared 'to percolate failure'; to listen to a string of 'faux pas' and phobias. Fear of failure, aging, crowds, opinions, noise numerals — and it would seem, grief itself — run rife . .. Reader, if this is your idea of a party, then Tanja Bartel’s is a book for you!"
— Jami Macarty
"Tanja Bartel’s prose is at its freest when it focuses on minutia. . .. She has a way of latching onto the smallest of details and making you pause to feel them strongly, with more curiosity, reminding you that your eyes have memory, too. "
— Jane Willsie
"Bartel’s powerful debut collection perches 'on the edge of a great loss and a great green field,' held together by the sharp observations of an observer attuned to the ironies and absurdities of everyday life. In this collection, 'the suburbs teem with alcoholic fits,' phobias are opportunities for humor, and parties are places to be 'a single rude unit. ' The heart may be a 'chamber of regret,' but that doesn’t stop these poems from joking about death and hoping for good luck. With Bartel’s ear for music and eye for resonant imagery, these poems consistently surprise. "
— Jen Currin, author of <i>Hider/Seeker</i>
"A bracing collection. These are tough-minded poems that pull no punches but still express a tough love for the world and its often hapless human inhabitants. Bartel’s voice is fresh and startling and painfully honest as it reflects on our flaws and fallacies, as well as our moments of grace within loss. "
— Rhea Tregebov, author of <i>All Souls’</i>
"The collection is tough, yet vulnerable, much like a friend insisting that she is 'fine' through gritted teeth. "
"The long party of modernity is almost over, the food and drink all but done. Yet still revelers rage into the night light-headed, quixotic, and heedless. Everyone at This Party is alive to the strange and provocative peculiarities of this moment. These are surreal and revelatory poems in which 'the predictability of eulogies offers zero comfort' while a 'neighbour removes the earth’s crust with a pressure washer. '"
— Adam Dickinson, author of <i>Anatomic</i>
"Everyone at This Party delves into a person’s relationship to their environment, their peers, and themselves in a seemingly cynical and yet humorous, honest, and lighthearted way. "
— Emma Rhodes