Gold Rush

By (author): Claire Caldwell

From the Klondike to an all-girls summer camp to the frontier of outer space, Gold Rush explores what it means to be a settler woman in the wilderness. Drawing on and subverting portrayals of nature from Susanna Moodie to Cheryl Strayed, Caldwell’s poems examine the tension between the violence and empowerment women have often sought and found in wild places; this is the violence young girls inflict on each other; colonial violence perpetrated by white, settler women; violence against nature itself. Many of these poems portray a climate in crisis, suggesting that even wilderness buffs are complicit in climate change. Whether they’re trekking the Chilkoot Trail, exploring the frontiers of their own bodies and desires, or navigating an unstable, unfamiliar climate, the girls and women in these poems are pioneers—in all the complexities contained by the term.


Claire Caldwell

Claire Caldwell is a poet and editor living in Toronto. She was the 2013 winner of the Malahat Review‘s Long Poem Prize, and her work has appeared in many magazines and journals, including Maisonneuve and Prism International. Claire holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph.


“A salute to Neil Young’s enduring prophecy, “mother nature on the run,” but it’s scarier now—it’s not the 1970s. Claire Caldwell is an environmental doomsayer, but she’s also a comedic, antic storyteller, and she’s great at dark endings. Wilderness women are her storytellers; they speak with the melancholy of country music. “One day, I vanished,” says one. Another says, “To wear the moon like a breast.” From actresses fording a river: “Applause had softened us.” Nothing soft about these poems.”—John Irving

​​”Gold Rush conjures images of women exploring the natural world, pushing against stereotypes embedded in Canadian “frontier” stories… Here women take up their rightful space.”Kim Fahner, Herizons

“Caldwell manages a feat many poets attempt and few achieve: making pop culture imagery actually work to emotional affect… Caldwell’s always adept at fun but exact imagery: “Sometimes the day / is a dead trout / and night slams over it / like a cooler’s lid.” Who hasn’t had one of those days?”Winnipeg Free Press

“There is something in Caldwell’s candour, verbal energy, and her roving eye for material that made me smile often, that reinforced my hope in language and the peculiar clarity of poetry… Caldwell always let her wit, plus the imagery and connections of poetry do their wonderful work.”The Fiddlehead

“Claire Caldwell’s second collection starts with a mammoth shinbone, stored in her parents’ garage. And it gets weirder and more ordinary from there, from the erasure poem Caldwell created from the diaries of homesteading women, full of longing and disconnection, to the epic anti-nature poem “How to See Moose.” Caldwell reminds us, magically, savagely, that we have celestial bodies but, also, that we are all meat. My only response? ‘Oh, yes, this.'”—Ariel Gordon


There are no awards found for this book.
Excerpts & Samples ×


It starts with the mammoth shin

in your parents’ garage, holed up in a lean-to

of cross-country skis. Then it’s the maybe-owl,

ptarmigrouse, mating call mistaken

for motorboat. Nothing

is what it used to be: the Gerber jar on the piano

filled not with spare buttons but prehistoric

horse teeth. You wobble

into bed on four woolly ankles.

Wake in the greenhouse, fists swollen

with chard. No one warned you

your body could feel like coming home

knowing strangers have been there.

Empty frame on the dresser,

bent fork in your underwear

drawer. But now you recognize a carnivore

slope in women’s shoulders, whiskers

stubbling their jaws.

Stop asking what will come

loping toward you, start with “When?”

Your hair splits: an oil spill

around your horns.

Reader Reviews



80 Pages
7.0in * 4.75in * 0.3in


April 01, 2020



Book Subjects:

POETRY / Subjects & Themes / Animals & Nature

Featured In:

All Books



No author posts found.

Related Blog Posts

There are no posts with this book.

Other books by Claire Caldwell