Brick Book Club 2017
AUGURIES BY CLEA ROBERTS – lives in Whitehorse – second poetry collection – April 2017
Poems like single larches, each in an immense white plain—spare and clean, their exactness startling and arresting
Whether speaking of erotic love, domestic life, spiritual wilderness, or family entanglements, the poems of Auguries, the much-anticipated second collection from Yukon poet Clea Roberts, are saturated with their northern landscape. Roberts is well versed in the distances and dynamics between tedium and ecstasy, light and dark, isolation and solitude, freeze and thaw, flow and stillness. Her poems are spare and clean, each like a single larch in an immense white plain; their exactness startling and arresting. As the Gerald Lampert Award jury citation for her celebrated first book noted, “Her images . . . are not only crisp and precise, but manage to speak about the physical conditions of this place and its emotional landscape in one and the same lyrical breath . . .”
ALL THE NAMES BETWEEN BY JULIA MCCARTHY – lives in Upper Kennetcook, Nova Scotia – third poetry collection – April 2017
Poems that form an eloquent, searching contemplation of “the warp and weft of being and nonbeing”
All the Names Between is Julia McCarthy’s third collection. Grounded in the experience of presence in which the external and internal meet, a crossroads of consciousness where “a language without a name / remembers us” and the poem is a votive act, All the Names Between reflects the shadow-light of being, of what is and what isn’t, of the seen and the unseen, the forgotten and the remembered; here “every elegy has an ode at its centre / every ode has an elegy around its edges.”
THIN AIR OF THE KNOWABLE BY WENDY DONAWA – lives in Victoria – first poetry collection – April 2017
An elegiac and incisive debut that blends poems of social justice with poems of ordinary life
In her first collection, Thin Air of the Knowable, the physical landscapes of Wendy Donawa’s life—West Coast, Caribbean, prairies—ground many of her poems and often reflect the inner geography of her preoccupations. A road-trip poem moves from prairie winter, “an icy scatter of gravel / the moving centre of this unpeopled world,” past a cattle liner on its way to the slaughter house, but it also passes beneath the sky’s “blazing scroll of light,” and magpies “flashing black and teal in the sun.” Landscape also functions metaphorically to suggest how historical settings play out in the exigencies of individual lives.
OTHER HOUSES BY KATE CAYLEY – lives in Toronto – second poetry collection – May 2017
From acclaimed fiction writer and playwright Kate Cayley—poems that illuminate the deep strangeness of the familiar
In Other Houses, Kate Cayley’s second collection of poetry, objects are alive with the presence of the people who have handled them. Myths and legends are interwoven with daily life. Visionaries, mystics, charlatans, artists, and the dead speak to us like chatty neighbours. An imaginary library catalogues missing people. Reading becomes a way of remembering the dead. Home is an elsewhere we are “called to,” a mystery that impels children to wander off, and adults to grow in unexpected directions.
THE GIRLS WITH STONE FACES BY ARLEEN PARE – lives in Victoria – fourth poetry collection – September 2017
A long poem memorializing the art and lives of sculptors Frances Loring and Florence Wyle
Arleen Paré, in her first book-length poem after her Governor General Literary Award–winning Lake of Two Mountains, turns her cool, benevolent eye to the shared lives of Florence Wyle and Frances Loring, two of Canada’s greatest artists, whose sculptures she comes face to face with at the National Gallery of Canada. In the guise of a curator, Paré takes us on a moving, carefully structured tour through the rooms where their work is displayed, the Gallery’s walls falling away to travel in time to Chicago (where they met at art school and fell in love in the 1910s), New York, and Toronto (where they lived and worked for the next six decades). Along the way, Paré looks at fashions in art, the politics of gender, and the love that longtime proximity calls forth in us.
CRIES FROM THE ARK BY DAN MACISAAC – lives in Victoria – first poetry collection – September 2017
A pitch-perfect debut and a call to act in the service of Earth through radiant attention
Humankind, at present, has breached floodgates that have only been breached before in ancient stories of angry gods, or so far back on geologic and biological timelines as to seem more past than past. Against this catastrophic backdrop (at the end of consolations, at the high-water mark), and equipped with a periscopic eye and a sublime metaphorical reach, poet Dan MacIsaac has crowded his debut vessel with sloths and gipsy-birds, mummified remains and bumbling explorers, German expressionists and Neolithic cave-painters.
MUSEUM OF KINDNESS BY SUSAN ELMSLIE – lives in Montreal – second poetry collection – October 2017
A meditative and piercing collection that explores traumas both ordinary and out of the ordinary
Museum of Kindness, Montreal poet Susan Elmslie’s second collection of poetry, is a book that bravely examines “genres” familiar and hard to fathom: the school shooting, PTSD, raising a child who has a disability. It is a collection about thresholds big and small. In poems grounded in the domestic and in workaday life, poems burnished by silence and the weight of the unspoken, poems by turns ironic and sincere, Elmslie asks “What, exactly, is / unthinkable?” Confronted by “the mismatch / between our need for meaning / and our inability to find it,” the poet reflects on the possibility of the miraculous in hard-won insights, in “a comparatively / uncomplicated joy.”