For Your Safety Please Hold On is a truly remarkable first poetry collection from debut talent Kayla Czaga. Her poems are already making waves--several from this collection have received award attention, including: The Fiddlehead's 23rd annual Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize, The Malahat Review's 2012 Far Horizon's Award for Poetry and an Editor's Choice Award in ARC Poetry Magazine's 2012 Poem of the Year Contest. They have also been shortlisted for The New Quarterly's 2013 Occasional Verse Contest, longlisted for CBC's 2013 Canada Writes Poetry Contest and have appeared in literary publications across North America.
The poems in For Your Safety Please Hold On move in thematic focus from family, to girlhood, to adulthood, each permeated by Czaga's lively voice and quick-witted, playful language. They test the line between honest humour and bitter reality in a sophisticated, incisive manner that tugs at the gut and feels true.
The linguistic hopscotch of Czaga's poems about girlhood is often beautifully juxtaposed with feelings of menace or a first taste of smothering expectations--"She sits. She sips her bright pink fingers. / She slips into smart short haircuts, yes, / she does so, and does herself up just so. " While her pin prick meditations on contemporary adulthood suggest a yearning for personal meaning and purpose on a larger scale--"I still wander, sometimes, / my coat closing the world out of my body, with pockets / full of garbage, with my slender steady want. I still / make the bed and at bedtime unmake it. "
The irrepressible energy of the poems in For Your Safety Please Hold On, paired with their complex balancing act between light and dark, humour and melancholy, innocence and danger, make this collection an extraordinary first offering.
Kayla Czaga grew up in Kitimat and now lives in Vancouver, BC, where she recently earned her MFA in Creative Writing at UBC. In 2016, she received the Emerging Writer Award from the Canadian Authors Association. Her poetry, non-fiction and fiction has been published in The Walrus, Best Canadian Poetry 2013, Room Magazine, Event and The Antigonish Review, among others. For Your Safety Please Hold On is her first book.
Her debut book, For Your Safety Please Hold On, was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award (2015), the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (2015), and the Debut-litzer Prize (2015), and it won the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. (2015)
Gerald Lampert Memorial Award 2015, Winner
Governor General's Literary Award 2015, Short-listed
Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize 2015, Short-listed
Debut-litzer Prize 2015, Short-listed
"Funny, smart, sophisticated, guileless: reading Czaga is like drinking a glass of water in a desert. Every once in a while there arrives a young poet whose astonishing aptitude for the craft rises so clearly, so beautifully, the relief is palpable. For Your Safety Please Hold On is Czaga's answer to Moure's Domestic Fuel and Solie's Short Haul Engine. .. and like Moure and Solie we don't need to expect great things from her. Great things are already here. "
"Expansive, precocious, melodic and radiant, Kayla Czaga's poetry simmers with joy and a quickened curiosity. This is poetry that pokes the stuff of earth with a stick, that overturns the stone to see what lies beneath--and then sings about it. Whether playfully deconstructing the mythic stature of Stalin or meditating on the nature of girlhood imagination, Czaga possesses a voice that is honest to the bone and an imagination lit up like an illuminated manuscript. . .. To read one of her poems is to zigzag between heartbreak and hilarity. "
--Carla Funk, Arc
"Kayla Czaga's For Your Safety Please Hold On recalls what was radical about Robert Lowell's Life Studies a half century ago. With wit and empathy, it moves beyond the confessional to reclaim the intimate and personal as an adventurous subject for poetry. Reading it is like being brought into someone's home and told all the family secrets--never an imposition, it feels rather like an initiation into the clan. I thoroughly enjoyed it. "
Praise for Kayla Czaga's poem "gertrude stein loves a girl," as winner of the Malahat Review's 2012 Far Horizons Award for Poetry:
"Playful, sprightly, shifting among tones of exuberance, irony, and sorrow, the poem fuses subject and form. Both meditation and enactment, it fizzes and twists in its trampolining cadences, its deft (and often funny) repetitions and turns, its sometimes startling diction. It creates a sense of irrepressible energy, even as the lineation suggests restriction. "
--Mary Dalton, author of Merrybegot
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