Essential Tremor

By (author): Barbara Nickel

Taking the name of a nervous system disorder that causes involuntary shaking, Essential Tremor undertakes an exploration of the body that holds disruption at its heart. The captivating and timely poems in Essential Tremor attend to many bodies–the body of the world, changing, unreachable, at times momentarily illumined; the human body, loved, ill, mourning, passing or passed from this world; and the divine body, questioned, encountered and not, sought by people from the margins in the body of a biblical palimpsest.

In her third collection, award-winning poet Barbara Nickel blends sonnets in sequences and scattered stand-alones with more formal innovations and extensions–erasures of the notes accompanying da Vinci’s anatomical drawings, lines found from Beethoven’s autopsy, and the musings of poet isolating in the midst of a twenty-first-century pandemic. Nickel asks her readers to consider the many facets of the body, how it finds the words, lines and poems that together form an essential life, a gift among our deepest wounds and terrors.


Barbara Nickel

Barbara Nickel is an award-winning writer and editor. Essential Tremor is Nickel’s third collection of poetry. Her first collection, The Gladys Elegies, won the Pat Lowther Award and her second, Domain, was a Quill & Quire Best Book of the Year. Nickel’s work has also appeared in many magazines and anthologies including The Walrus, Poetry Ireland Review, Arc Poetry Magazine, and The Malahat Review. Nickel is also an author of books for young people, one of which won a BC Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award and the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year. Her other children’s titles have been nominated for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award, as well as several Young Readers’ Choice awards. Barbara Nickel lives and writes in Yarrow, BC.


“Like Wallace Stevens, invoked through epigraph and structural echo in Essential Tremor, Barbara Nickel grapples with the relation between spirit and the world of sensation in this compelling new book. Her brilliant sonnet sequence, “Corona,” is likely to stand among the finest (most nuanced) art to emerge from this harrowing time. Equally powerful is the consonantal riffing of her poem-set focusing on the body and its parts (sacrum/sacred). Sonically rich, formally adept, and allusively dense, Essential Tremor widens out to consider the nature of the body, of suffering, and of compassion through time. The vision is unsparing, yet leavened by grace.”

–Mary Dalton, Poet Laureate of the City of St. John’s


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80 Pages
8.00in * 5.50in * .25in


April 03, 2021


Caitlin Press



Book Subjects:

POETRY / Canadian

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