Women Crush Wednesday: Poetry Authors

In celebration of International Women’s Month, each Wednesday we will be highlighting a few amazing women authors and their books in our new Women Crush Wednesday blog column. Keep your eye on these poets.


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Ky Perraun | Author ofMiraculous Sickness (At Bay Press)

Ky Perraun is an Edmonton poet and writing group facilitator, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1997. Having had her first poetry publication in 1983, while in journalism school, she continued submitting to magazines and anthologies throughout the decades, despite her diagnosis. In the early 2000s she helped form Right Heart Press, a micropress collective, which published her chapbook, Paging Dr.G.. In 2017 she received a Canada Council Cultivate Grant to produce a manuscript detailing schizophrenic treatments throughout history, which became Miraculous Sickness, to be released by At Bay Press in 2021.Miraculous Sickness deals with society’s views and treatment of schizophrenia from ancient times to modern day. From the cure for demon possession to the recovery model, Miraculous Sickness sheds light on a subject matter still shrouded in misconceptions and myth. In this collection of poetry, we get a sense how our approach to dealing with mental illness and those affected has evolved, yet how far we have yet to go. Skillfully wrought poems that detail her own lived experience, the poet expounds upon difficult terrain with careful footing so as to create a dialogue for all to consider.

Maria Caltabiano | Author ofDrawing Daybreak (Guernica Editions)

Born in Italy, Maria Montuori Caltabiano immigrated to Canada with her parents and siblings in 1961. She holds degrees in English Literature, Journalism, and Public Relations from Concordia University, and has worked as a teacher, magazine editor, news and weather person for Tele Italia Montreal, and journalist for CBC Radio Canada International. Drawing Daybreak is Maria’s first collection of poems, the fulfillment of a childhood dream she shared with her husband before he succumbed to cancer. Her poetry has appeared in various literary publications, and her long poem “Il Nibbio” was published in the anthology Celebrating Calabria: Writing Heritage and Memory. Although poetry is her first love, Maria also enjoys painting and music. She lives in Montreal with her family, and when she’s not writing poetry, she helps her 89-year-old father run the family restaurant, now celebrating sixty years in business.Drawing Daybreak: Maria Caltabiano’s poems are the result of years of ponderings and musings about life after losing her husband to cancer. They paint moments that clung to her and begged expression. Most try to work through the sadness and introspection that accompanies loss and mourning. But they also depict a healing process that imposes a new perspective as one embarks on an unknown road: the fears, the guilt, the joys. Nature figures prominently as a teacher and a source of solace. A sanctum away from a troubled world, be it the inner world, or the outer one of politics, religion, and human relationships.

Mallory Amirault | Author ofBrine (Arbeiter Ring Publishing Ltd.)

Born in Nova Scotia, Mi’kma’ki, Mallory Amirault is a queer artist whose Acadian and Mi’kmaq heritage belongs to the Kespukwitk district of Yarmouth, otherwise known as the lobster’s ass when referring to the province. Their artistic practice engages in critical poetics, literary performance, and humour. As a person enmeshed in the legacy of colonization and cultural diaspora in the Maritimes, they think, read and write about the idiosyncrasies of belonging and identity, and memory as a palimpsest. They currently live alongside the Halfway River, a tributary that flows into the Minas Basin, an inlet of the Bay of Fundy.BrineMallory Amirault’s debut collection is an ambitious land-metaphor; merging history and imagination, it’s a work of poetry that doubles as a prose novel. Subtly unfolding character-led intimacies, it acts as an interruption to long-standing Maritime coloniality. Amirault describes Brine as an aboiteau at the shoreline of a colonial event. Engaging the elemental and political act of arriving and departing, the story is a mechanism that slowly removes salt from the Maritimes, and points to say wound. 

Carol Harvey Steski | Author ofrump + flank (NeWest Press)

Carol Harvey Steski grew up under the wide Winnipeg sky. Her poems have been published in the poetry anthology Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology, and literary magazines including Room, Prairie Fire, FreeFall, untethered, Contemporary Verse 2, and CAROUSEL. Her work was featured in Winnipeg Transit’s “Poetry in Motion” program and tootled around town on buses. Twice she was a finalist in FreeFall’s annual poetry contest. As a young-adult survivor of melanoma she has been a guest on CBC Radio-Manitoba speaking about the therapeutic benefits of writing through disease. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter, working in corporate communications. rump + flank is her debut poetry collection. rump + flankCarol Harvey Steski’s tenacious and unapologetic debut, explores the body in nature’s many incarnations: human, animal, plant, microbe, even chemical. The result is a fantastical poetic work that sheds light on what bodies–especially female ones–endure, probing the full range of experiences from pleasure and hope to deep loss and trauma. These poems are piercingly humorous, sexy, and peppered with startling absurdities, but are grounded by an undercurrent of nostalgia (and a soupçon of feminist rage): mercury reproduces like funhouse mirrors, oysters are whole notes dropped into eternal song, cancer is a surly character taking and discarding lovers, a domestic chore turns dark as a mother channels her inner Lady Macbeth. Lush imagery melds with organic rhythms to spawn a visceral experience, a tendon-and-muscle-driven engine that readers can feel racing within their own bodies.

Sarah Venart | Author ofI Am the Big Heart (Brick Books)

Sarah Venarts’s poetry has been published in Numero Cinq, Concrete and River, The New Quarterly, The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, This Magazine, Prism International, and on CBC Radio. She is the author of Woodshedding (Brick Books, 2007) and Neither Apple Nor Pear. Sarah lives in Montreal and teaches writing at John Abbott College.I am the Big Heart: What does it mean to be the big heart? Or to hope to be the big heart? Or to fail to be that big heart? How far can a heart stretch?  How does being a parent stretch it further? How does a heart manage under the pressure of children, of self, of hospital technician, of partner, of death? In this collection, big heartedness is both demand and desire. It emerges from family life—the kid who says to your face that she prefers her other parent; the father monkeying around in the art gallery; the mother who “gets on with it” in silence; the husband, distant and intimate under the marriage yoke. There is also in this collection the stirring of wilder desires than family is supposed to nurture, feelings more fiercely self-assertive than a parent—a mother particularly—is supposed to admit. This collection asks how to rise to the occasions that family presents and also how to let oneself spill over the bounds of familial roles. Venart’s poems reach into the past but don’t get lost there; they look the present in the face—they have to: the clock is ticking, the children calling, there are hot dogs to be sliced and the dog won’t walk itself. The title is ironic. And also kind of secretly stoically hoping that it’s not ironic. But it is.

Jaclyn Desforges | Author ofDanger Flower (Palimpsest Press)

Jaclyn Desforges is a Pushcart-nominated poet and the author of a picture book, Why Are You So Quiet? (Annick Press, 2020). She’s the winner of the 2018 RBC/PEN Canada New Voices Award, two 2019 Short Works Prizes, and the 2020 Hamilton Emerging Artist Award for Writing. Jaclyn’s work has been featured in Room Magazine, THIS Magazine, The Fiddlehead, The Puritan, Contemporary Verse 2 and others. Currently, she works on the editorial board of the Hamilton Review of Books as Poetry Reviews Editor, and is a creative writing MFA candidate at the University of British Columbia. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario with her partner and daughter.Danger FlowerA baby transforms into a reverse mermaid in a baptism gone wrong. After being stepped on, a snail exacts revenge. Jaclyn Desforges leads enlightened witnesses through a wild garden where archetypal tales are treated with tongue-in-cheek irreverence. Amidst nesting dolls and opossums, poison oak and Tamagotchis, the poet navigates gender roles, sexual indiscretions, episodic depression, and mothering, forming essential survival strategies for a changing world. Danger Flower is a necessary debut.

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