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The Chat with Lorna Crozier

Poet Jan Zwicky calls the work,"Lyric art of the highest order. The voice, relieved of everything nonessential, speaks with effortless assurance of last, and first, things.”

Patrick Lane, considered by most writers and critics to be one of Canada's finest poets, was born in 1939 in Nelson, BC. He won nearly every literary prize in Canada, from the Governor General's Literary Award to the Canadian Authors Association Award to the Dorothy Livesay Prize. In 2014, he became an Officer of the Order of Canada, an honour that recognizes a lifetime of achievement and merit of a high degree. His poetry and fiction have been widely anthologized and translated into many languages. His more recent books include Witness: Selected Poems 1962–2010 (Harbour Publishing, 2010), The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane (Harbour Publishing, 2011), Washita (Harbour Publishing, 2014; shortlisted for the 2015 Governor General's Literary Award), Deep River Night (McClelland & Stewart, 2018) and a posthumous collection, The Quiet in Me (2022). Lane spent the later part of his life in Victoria, BC, with his wife, the poet Lorna Crozier. He died in 2019.

Lorna Crozier is the author of the memoir Through the Garden, a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction. She has …

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10 Books by Spoken Word Artists: Poetry Slam Edition

I was once told that poetry slam is “the monster truck rally of the literary scene.” While it was meant as an insult, I actually loved the description, because what’s cooler than a freaking monster truck rally? This is a list of books done by poets I have competed with in poetry slams we all took turns winning, losing, and organizing.

This list also includes our trailblazers, people who fought so that the publishing world would pay attention to the importance of spoken word poetry. There are some excellent feats of editing here; knowing how to make a page speak is no small miracle, and each of these collections begs to be read out loud.

I’m pleased to say I had to stop at 10 books but could have recommended more. It’s wonderful to see spoken word find a home on the page, while holding the elements of the stage.

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Make the World New, by Lillian Allen

All hail Lillian Allen! Okay, so she’s not a competitive poet, but I must first acknowledge Lillian’s presence and influence. Without her persistence of spoken word and dub poetry being important …

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Reading Eclectically

My most recent book of poems, The Last Show on Earth is perhaps not a happy book, but happiness is hard won these days. It is, however, a book full of people, as Rob Taylor says in his blurb: “teems not only with names, but with beings.” So, I thought I’d capture a few of the non-Canadians and then dive into Canadian books and writers that inspired this book or inspire me in multiple ways. I want to just say that a lot of the books I will talk about influenced poems already written, and also influence poems that I’m working on now.

International writers include Denise Riley, Mary Oliver, Lorca, Charles Wright (I have fallen in love with his poetry again recently), Virginia Woolf (she’s always kind of floating around), Ilya Kaminski, Anna Akhmatova, Odysseas Elytis, Sylvia Plath, and Rilke. I am aware that Ilya Kaminsky has become particularly called on as Russia invades Ukraine and he is called on to speak to how poetry can respond to war and I am thankful for him and his voice.

Now, here is my more fulsome list of Canadian books I have read over the past while and return to. I just finished a marvellous kids book with my son called Dragons in a Bag, by Zetta Elliot, who is from Canada but lives in the US. We both loved the story and characters and that i …

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Most Anticipated: Our Spring 2022 Poetry Preview

This latest installment of our 2022 Spring Preview offers new books by celebrated poets including Paul Zits, Alexandra Oliver, Madhur Anand, Yvonne Blomer, Lorna Goodison, Evelyn Lau, Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang, rob mclennan, Katherine Lawrence, and more, plus many exciting debuts.

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The poems in Maleea Acker’s Hesitating Once to Feel Glory (April) cajole and praise both the world and interior life with both an erotic charge and enduring hope. In Parasitic Oscillations (March), Madhur Anand examines various aspects of living and practicing as both a poet and scientist in the Anthropocene during a time of unravelling. And Hypatia’s Wake (June), by Susan Andrews Grace, presents Hypatia of Alexandria, the Neoplatonic philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician who was murdered by Christians in the fifth century.

Patterned on a series of dream states, David Barrick’s Nightlight (May) delves into the surreal nature of the human imagination, even at its most unconscious. In Cut to Fortress (April), Tawahum Bige confronts colonialism, relationships, grief a …

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GGBooks Special: The Chat with Sadiqa de Meijer

Language as the mother of bond and breach is beautifully storied in Sadiqa de Meijer’s poignant and provocative memoir, alfabet/alphabet. This is a book that dreams of transforming migration, citizenship, families, nationhood and the very utterances upon which each is built. A deeply hopeful narrative about language itself, a singular exploration of the way that words build a home. – 2021 Peer Assessment Committee

Author Headshot Sadiqa De Maijer

Sadiqa de Meijer is the author of the poetry collections Leaving Howe Island and The Outer Wards. Her work has won the CBC Poetry Prize and Arc’s Poem of the Year Contest, and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. She lives with her family in Kingston, Ontario.

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Congrats on your Governor General’s Award, Sadiqa. The book explores your transition from speaking Dutch to English. Why was it important for you to explore this terrain?

Thank you! After my first book of poems, I started asking myself what it meant for me to write in English, and the answers turned out to go far deeper than I’d imagined. Until then, my languages existed within me in a togetherness that I took for granted; writing alfabet/alphabet was the process of bringing their overlap and borders into consciousness. 

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GGBooks Special: The Chat with Tolu Oloruntoba

"Tolu Oloruntoba’s voice in The Junta of Happenstance is at once thoughtful and authoritative, metaphorically rich and lyrically surprising. Oloruntoba’s language travels through history and myth to speak to today and engage with a future transformed by new understanding. The combination of craft and spirit cuts a fine place for this debut work, expanding our literary view."—2021 Peer Assessment Committee

Tolu Oloruntoba spent his early career as a primary care physician. He currently manages virtual health projects, and has lived in Nigeria, the United States, and Canada. His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, while his debut chapbook, Manubrium, was a bpNichol Chapbook Award finalist. The Junta of Happenstance is his first full-length collection of poetry. He lives in the metro area of Coast Salish lands known as Vancouver.

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The Junta of Happenstance is your first full-length collection of poetry. How does it feel to be recognized with a Governor General’s Award at this early point in your career?

Thanks, Trevor. I suppose it is early in my career, since I hope to have a long one, but I have been writing poetry since 2001 (although I am glad all my earlier attempts to put out a full-length book failed, because I wasn’t ready). But to answer your question, and if I can be honest, it has been surreal and a little terrifying. Dionne Brand, Anne Carson, and so many other lights have won this award. I am not even slightly close to being credibly considered …

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The Chat with Hasan Namir

Hasan Namir_Author Photo_Credit Tarn Khare

Praising the work, Griffin Poetry Prize winner Kaie Kellough says, “Umbilical Cord’s poems have a lucent quality and a supple rhythm that carries their tenderness to a reader. In an instant, the poems can become as raw, as immediate as touch. This work begins in heat and heartbeat, as a relationship and a family come into being, and it reflects the intimacies, anxieties, and devotions of love.  At once personally revealing and focused outward on the challenges that queer families face, in Umbilical Cord love triumphs over intolerance, and the future, named “Malek,” is nurtured by two devoted fathers.” 

Hasan Namir is an Iraqi-Canadian author. He graduated from Simon Fraser University with a BA in English and received the Ying Chen Creative Writing Student Award. He is the author of God in Pink (2015), which won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Fiction and was chosen as one of the Top 100 Books of 2015 by The Globe and Mail. His work has also been in media across Canada. He is also the author of the poetry book War/Torn (2019, Book*hug Press) which received the 2020 Barbara Gittings Honor Book Award from the Stonewall Book Awards, and children’s book The Name I Call Myself (2020). Hasan lives in Vancouver with his husband and child.

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Trevor Corkum …

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Book Beyond the Poem—Poem Beyond the Book

Book Cover Hell Light Flesh

The QWF Literary Awards celebrate the best books and plays by English-language writers, playwrights, and translators in Quebec, as well as those translating English works from Quebec into French. Each award comes with a purse of $3,000.

For more information about the Awards and to see Giller Prize-winning author Sean Michaels announce all the finalists, check out the Gala page on our website.

Hell Light Flesh, by Klara du Plessis, is a finalist for the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry.

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This list foregrounds the unravelling of the poem as a discreet entity and models expansion. Through modes of formal lengthening, seriality, interdisciplinarity or disciplinary coexistence, these poets exceed the tradition of book as self-contained object, and break print materiality to cross over into other genres and practices. While the work of these authors feels central to my personal reading practice, I am keenly aware of the limitations of inclusion—the other ones, the unread ones, the ones from across borders.

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An Autobiography of the Autobiography of Reading, …

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Books That Helped Me Heal

It takes me a long time to write a book. Whether it’s poems or a novel, I feel like I’m at it over a lifetime. Death Becomes Us contains poems written mostly after my late husband died, and during that time I read a lot of books that helped me to heal. Survival wells inside us all, and whether a book is exploring how to survive life or death, it is comforting to read other writers’ experiences with that survival.

Here are a few books that I read that helped provide me with context, with compassion, as I grappled with my own loss.

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St. Boniface Elegies, by Catherine Hunter

I find something strangely intimate in reading poems that are set in my hometown. This lovely volume of poetry, separated into four sections, explores death and loss with a gentle humour, all the while describing places I know well but feel I have never seen properly. Hunter has a clear vision, and is a master at depicting the scene. Her writing puts me in mind of the director of a movie, walking around with a whirring camera, capturing images with precision, each given its o …

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Thinking Books, Not Tidy Books

The QWF Literary Awards celebrate the best books and plays by English-language writers, playwrights, and translators in Quebec, as well as those translating English works from Quebec into French. Each award comes with a purse of $3,000.

For more information about the Awards and to see Giller Prize-winning author Sean Michaels announce all the finalists, check out the Gala page on our website.

Jessie Jones' The Fool is a finalist for the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry.

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I read many of these books while I was writing and editing The Fool. They investigate not only an object, character, or idea, but the ambient area around it, drawing the eye to details it might normally pass over, or causing you to sit with a thought that you might normally ignore or suppress. These are not tidy books, they are thinking books, and they’ve greatly expanded my understanding of what writing can do.

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Index Cards, by Moyra Davey

Whether in her visual art or her writing (or some vibrant combination of the two), Moyra Davey works toward ideas in the most fascinating way possi …

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Books Like Old Friends

Every September since 1997, the Winnipeg International Writers Festival presents THIN AIR, a celebration of books and ideas. Their curated line-up is a perfect fit for curious readers who are ready to discover strong voices and great storytelling in practically every genre. This year, they're presenting a hybrid festival featuring 60 writers, live events, and a dynamic website.

To watch video content Molly Cross-Blanchard has prepared for them, visit the festival website.

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Book Cover Exhibitionist

I find it difficult to read other writers when developing my own voice, as I did slowly throughout the process of building my first collection, Exhibitionist. But there were a small bundle of books that I held hands with during that time, and which were instrumental in finding the rhythm of wry, conversational, and confessional language in my own work. Books that spoke to me like old friends, as I also hoped to speak to my readers. I hope you’ll make friends with them, too.

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8 Books that Explore Memory and Place

Fawn Parker—whose latest novel Dumb-Show has been described by Adnan Khan as “vivid and vicious”—recommends eight books of fiction, memoir, and poetry exploring themes of memory and physical place.

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Householders, by Kate Cayley

The stories in Householders are haunting and enigmatic, with a clarity of emotion that cuts through the dreamlike atmosphere Cayley has crafted. With the first sentence of the opening story, “A Crooked Man,” we are introduced to the feeling of isolation that runs throughout the book: “Martha regarded herself skeptically and assumed skepticism from the other mothers at the table.” In “A Beautiful Bare Room” a strange infectious rash spreads among Palo Alto. A woman in a bunker considers whether she is “there to be amusing to languid virtual people, if the distinction between virtual and actual was meaningful anymore.” With incredible attention to the nuance of interpersonal relationships—whether familial, romantic, situational, dysfunctional—each story in Householders is a window into an eerie but …

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