Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Poetry Nature

A History of the Theories of Rain

by (author) Stephen Collis

Initial publish date
Feb 2021
Nature, Canadian, Environmental Conservation & Protection
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2021
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


A History of the Theories of Rain explores the strange effect our current sense of impending doom has on our relation to time, approaching the unfolding climate catastrophe through its dissolution of the categories of “man-made” and “natural.” How do we go on with our daily lives while a disastrous future impinges upon every moment?

Stephen Collis provides no easy answers and offers no simple hope. Instead, he probes our current state of anxiety with care, humour, and an unflinching gazing into the darkness we have gathered around ourselves. Asking what form a resistance to the tenor of these out-of-joint times might take, A History of the Theories of Rain explores the links between climate’s “tipping points” and the borders constraining the plants, animals, and peoples forcibly displaced by a radically altered world ecology.

About the author

Stephen Collis is the author of seven books of poetry, including the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize–winning On the Material (Talonbooks, 2010). Other titles include Anarchive (New Star, 2005, also nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize), The Commons (Talonbooks, 2008, 2014), To the Barricades (Talonbooks, 2013), Decomp (co-authored with Jordan Scott, Coach House, 2013), Once in Blockadia (Talonbooks, 2016), and A History of the Theories of Rain (Talonbooks, 2021), nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. An activist and social critic, his writing on the Occupy movement is collected in Dispatches from the Occupation (Talonbooks, 2012).Collis is also the author of two book-length studies, Phyllis Webb and the Common Good (Talonbooks, 2007) and Through Words of Others: Susan Howe and Anarcho-Scholasticism (ELS Editions, 2006), as well as the editor, with Graham Lyons, of Reading Duncan Reading: Robert Duncan and the Poetics of Derivation (Iowa University Press, 2012). His memoir, Almost Islands: Phyllis Webb and the Pursuit of the Unwritten, was published by Talonbooks in 2018. He teaches contemporary poetry and poetics at Simon Fraser University.Collis was the 2019 recipient of the Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize, which is given to a mid-career poet in recognition of a remarkable body of work, and in anticipation of future contributions to Canadian poetry.

Stephen Collis' profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Taken together, these poems are as much an account of how we humans are grappling with a terrifying environmental predicament ... as they are odes to Earth itself.”
Poetry Foundation


Collis’s “work is immediate, timely and timeless, providing amplification to what the lyric has long held as a quiet, underlying thread; by Collis, this eco-poetic is not mere flowering, but magnified... Collis has become one of our most essentially-engaged contemporary poets... [his poetry] is a rare lyric that includes actual action.”
—rob mclennan, periodicities


“The past was imperfect, the present is imperfect, and so is the future. No naïve idealism lurks in the words carefully chosen by Collis, who warns us that every step is a risk ... Collis reminds us of the consequences of homocentric thinking in a world that depends on diversity.”
Ormsby Review


“Stephen Collis has achieved something remarkable: an invigorating body of work that convincingly addresses both the urgency of the present moment and the long echoes of our historical and lyrical past … The depth and scope of Collis’s vision is startling and impressive; so are the courage, precision, and care he brings to the poems he creates.”
—Hoa Nguyen and Margo Wheaton


Related lists