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Filling the Gaps, Minding the Gaps: the Unconventional (Mostly) Small Town Girls of CanLit

My latest poetry collection, Gaptoothed, is about my own bashful, lusty Wife of Bath smile. Yet it is also about gaps in identity, memory, history—flaws, holes, spaces and absences, that when looked at from a certain angle, become powerful instruments of poetic expression. The collection, released by Gaspereau Press this past spring, is also about gender, girlhood, and the unconventional and vulnerable girls who too often fall through the cracks—or gaps—in a system that was never built to help the likes of them. The collection is dedicated to my late grandmother; she was supposed to be one of forgotten, cast-aside girls, but her tremendous wit, her razor-sharp tongue, her vitality made her unforgettable. The book is about the beauty of the one-of-a-kind that tells you off for not noticing sooner.

The books listed below have filled in the gaps for me over the years on a literary landscape that so often seemed full of holes—that still seems to be short so many vibrant and vital stories and poems and voices.

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Monkey Beach, by Eden Robinson

This is …

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Most Anticipated: Our 2020 Fall Poetry Preview

Our Fall Preview continues with poetry, with an intriguing selection of debuts, selected/collected works, and other excellent new releases.

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(Re)Generation (January) contains selected poetry by Anishinaabe writer Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm that deals with a range of issues: from violence against Indigenous women and lands to Indigenous erotica and the joyous intimate encounters between bodies. Susan Alexander’s Nothing You Can Carry (September) is rooted in a keen, even holy, sense of place within the natural world. Text Messages (September) is the first multi-genre collection by Montreal-based Iraqi hip-hop artist, activist, and professor Yassin “Narcy” Alsalman. And Dearly (November) is Margaret Atwood’s first collection in over a decade, bringing together many of her most recognizable and celebrated themes, but distilled.

The concerns of Swivelmount (September)—the collapse of subject and world, eros and law, knowledge and bafflement—gain new urgency as Ken Babstock fiercely reimagines and reassembles the remnants into a viable order. A b …

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The Chat with Cicely Belle Blain

This week on the Chat, we’re in conversation with Cicely Belle Blain, author of the forthcoming poetry collection Burning Sugar (VS. Books/Arsenal Pulp Press).

Author Jillian Christmas says,“Cicely Belle Blain's Burning Sugar beautifully narrates a journey over more than lands and waters. It is an exploration of the near perfect bliss of brazen blackness, interrupted by in all its forms. But even that intrusion is outmatched by the beauty of Blain's wildest dreams that offer a sharp and unflinching analysis, with a tender belly and a steady voice. Each poem pulls its teeth from the book's title, and offers the soft and deliberate sweetness of what could have been—before the burning.” 

Cicely Belle Blain is a Black/mixed, queer femme from London, now living on the lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. At the heart of their work, Cicely Belle harnesses their passion for justice, liberation, and meaningful change via transformative education, always with laughter, and fearlessly, in the face of resistance. They are noted for founding Black Lives Matter Vancouver and subsequently being listed as one of Vancouver magazine’s 50 most powerful people, BCBusiness’s 30 under 30, and the CBC’s 150 Black women and non-binary people making change across Canada. They are now the CEO of Cicely Blain Consulting, a social justice–informed diversity and inclusion consulting company with over 100 clients across North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Cicel …

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Launchpad: Murmurations, by Annick MacAskill

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

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Today we're launching Murmurations, by Annick MacAskill, whose previous book was nominated for the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and shortlisted for the J. M. Abraham Poetry Award (Atlantic Book Awards).

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

Murmurations is a book of love poems, heavy on the bird imagery.

Describe your ideal reader.

Any reader is my ideal reader! But to play fair: anyone who’s wondered what lovers and birds have to do with each other, or w …

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Launchpad: the broken boat, by Daniela Elza

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching the broken boat, by Daniela Elza, described by Miranda Pearson as "both lament and praise for the ending of a marriage. The poems, fractured and musical on the page, are at once stark and complex, surreal and familiar. There is a vertiginous sense of unsteady balance, of climbing, rung to rung. And yet, a delicate strength is here—a learning how to move through grief.”

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

This book is all about asking questions to stay aflo …

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Launchpad: Glass Float, by Jane Munro

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Glass Float, by Jane Munro, of which Ian Williams writes, "Like glass floats themselves, these neat, clear poems contain Munro's breath. They cross oceans."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

Like glass floats themselves—with someone’s breath inside them—these neat, clear poems cross oceans, connecting mind and body, self and others, physical and metaphysical, art and nature, east and west, north and south.

Describe your ideal reader.

An observant walk …

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Launchpad: The World is Mostly Sky, by Sarah Ens

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching The World is Mostly Sky, by Sarah Ens, which is celebrated by Rhea Tregebov who writes, "Whether she’s writing of girlhood or womanhood, of the prairies or the city, Ens’ vivid, forceful language fully engages and challenges her readers."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

The World Is Mostly Sky depicts self-discovery and healing in the midst of catastrophe—both global and personal—made possible by sisterhood and shared story. 

Describe your ideal rea …

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Launchpad: Devolution, by Kim Goldberg

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Devolution, by Kim Goldberg, who Sonnet L'Abbé calls "a climate-voyant, offering visions of time-warped ecologies and malignantly inverted processes of nature."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

Devolution is a surreal and often absurd look at a world in collapse through poems and fables about ecopocalypse.

Describe your ideal reader.

A person who doesn’t know where the horse is headed, or whether the horse is even constrained by Newtonian physics, but is w …

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Launchpad: Sweet Water, by Yvonne Blomer

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Sweet Water: Poems for the Watersheds, an anthology edited by Yvonne Blomer, a book on which Maude Barlow advises, "Stop. Slow down. Suspend time. Let your soul come to rest in this haunting book as you take a quiet journey to a watershed that someone cherishes."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

Sweet Water: Poems for the Watersheds is the second of a trilogy of water-based poetry anthologies, a gathering of voices emerging and established in a beautiful a …

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Launchpad: The Outer Wards, by Sadiqa de Meijer

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching The Outer Wards, by Sadiqa de Meijer, whom Michael Crummey calls "A voice of authority and grace."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

The Outer Wards is a collection that revolves around a speaker who has fallen ill while her child is young; the resulting poems are a concentrated exploration of questions that all parents are aware of at the edges of their experience. 

Describe your ideal reader.
One of the beautiful things about writing is that this isn't pred …

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Launchpad: Endlings, by Joanna Lilley

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Endlings, by Joanna Lilley, which David Suzuki calls "a frightening reminder that Nature is our Mother and source of life."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

It’s a book of poems about extinct animals but it includes species who lived long before we did so it’s not just a rant against humans, and it will probably make you cry.

Describe your ideal reader.

Loves animals, can’t watch films with animals in them because they never end well, not sure if poet …

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Launchpad: Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart, by Beatriz Hausner

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart, by Beatriz Hausner, which Tamara Faith Berger calls ""Elegant, thirsty and visionary poems, echoing with song."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

It’s a trip through the many permutations of love, often explicit, where mostly punk songs are juxtaposed to the moods of Ovid, the troubadour poets and other Classics.

Describe your ideal reader.

Loves Annie Lennox, sophisticated sex, elegant storytelling and time travel (between …

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