Lunar Tides

By Shannon Webb-Campbell

Lunar Tides
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Expansive and enveloping, Webb-Campbell's collection asks, "Who am I in relation to the moon?" These poems explore the primordial connections between love, grief, and water, structured within the lunar calendar.

The poetics follow rhythms of the body, the tides, the moon, and ... Read more


Expansive and enveloping, Webb-Campbell's collection asks, "Who am I in relation to the moon?" These poems explore the primordial connections between love, grief, and water, structured within the lunar calendar.

The poetics follow rhythms of the body, the tides, the moon, and long, deep familial relationships that are both personal and ancestral. Originating from Webb-Campbell's deep grief of losing her mother, Lunar Tides charts the arc to finding her again in the waves. Written from a mixed Mi'kmaq/settler perspective, this work also explores the legacies of colonialism, kinship and Indigenous resurgence.

Lunar Tides is the ocean floor and a moonlit night: full of possibility and fundamental connections.



Shannon Webb-Campbell

Shannon Webb-Campbell is a mixed Indigenous (Mi'kmaq) settler poet, writer, and critic. She is the author of Still No Word (2015), recipient of Eagle Canada's Out in Print Award, and I Am a Body of Land (2019; finalist for the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry). Shannon holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, and a MA in English Literature at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, and is a doctoral candidate at the University of New Brunswick in the Department of English. She is the editor of Visual Arts News Magazine. Shannon is a member of Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation and lives in Kijpuktuk/Halifax in Mi'kma'ki.


Time: A Biography

"A poet is Atlantic and lion in one. While one drowns us the other gnaws us. If we survive the teeth, we succumb to the waves”
—Virginia Woolf, Orlando

I: Beginning

A baby is born in a room to a body. Recognizes a voice outside the walls. The baby wants to return to womb waters. What is this room? What is this body? Living is a stretch. Doctors assign sex. Only hours until you hear tides. Nothing prepares you for life. I was born three months premature. Are the grandmothers in my body? Doctors don’t like to answer questions. Life becomes a quest of origin. Mother reminds us why light thins. Passing into night, you return somewhere like wind.

A room. Body. Baby.

II: Middle

In the room, in my body, mother tells the story of breath. I fell out of her one afternoon, nearly an entire season too early. She was floored I was able to breathe. The nurses pushed plastic tubes up my nose, put me in a glass box. Was she in the room? Was I in her body? Birth explodes a new kind of meaning. Nothing prepared my mother to mother. Sex assigned her body. The hospital staff told her to go on home. I needed to keep breathing. She needed breath. Nurses took me away, and she was left to imagine holding her baby. Grandmother was islanded in time, thousands of miles away.

The room. The body. Mother.

III: End

Life happens in a room. Grief takes up with body. Mother never peed in front of me, illness yellowed her, and took her socks. Palliative care is a tenth-floor view with an aluminum garden overlooking the city. Called in the middle of the night to be with her as she goes. Kin piled in cars, drove downtown, followed high-way lines. A woman who wanted us to be there when she stopped breathing. A mother whose body never felt at home. Death exhausts in spectacle. Nothing prepared us for our last morning together. Was I in in the room? Was she in her body? I sat in the hospital window while her tiny 60-year-old body slept. I couldn’t take my eyes off her chest. Watching her labored breath become a final hour. It’s okay to go. I imagined a baby cradled in my arms, the way she once held me. Passing my baby to her, I cried oceans over. This is the closest I get to giving her a grandchild.

The room. The body. Mother.


  • A. M. Klein Prize for Poetry 2019, Short-listed


"The poems in Lunar Tides seek to define grief, and ultimately find a path toward healing. We, all of us, have two mothers: Our human mothers, as well as our Mother Earth. To understand that connection is to understand ourselves. " —Roses and Reviews

"There is an arc of light in Shannon Webb-Campbell's Lunar Tides that passes through a mother's death, a poet's birth, and the moon in orbit over the Atlantic. These are poetics of nature told from the lip of Eastern Canada where a desire to know reveals a desire to remember. 'Life becomes a quest of origin,' the poet tells us. And in this way, we are shown how even grief can be transformed. "; —Tawhida Tanya Evanson, author of Book of Wings

"Webb-Campbell explores the idea of 'mother' as meta-origin birthplace/home and also the literal mother of the poems' speaker, who is grieving her own mother's death. " —The Washington Independent Review of Books

"Lunar Tides is both expansive and exacting, inviting us to feel our own relationship to the ocean, belonging and mortality. " —Shalan Joudry, author of Walking Ground

"Lunar Tides, Shannon Webb-Campbell exposes a heart that's broken but also carried across the gulf between the moon and the sea, a heart that knows how "grief takes up with the body. " She shows us that grief is tidal, its ebb and flow pulsing like the moon and dog-earring our memories. This book reminds us that, grieving or not, we "need to be held by something other than a theory. " —Douglas Walbourne-Gough, author of Crow Gulch

"The structure of the collection, following as it does the waxing and waning of the moon, the ebbing and flowing of the tide, both reinforces the ongoing harm of colonial and capitalist ways of thinking, ways that insist on a tidy and timely resolution of grief and, later in the collection, assembles an alternative vision: 'Learn that loss has its own time, and you are a small animal reeling. '" —Winnipeg Free Press

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