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Poetry Canadian

I left nothing inside on purpose

by (author) Stevie Howell

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Mar 2018
Canadian, English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Places
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2018
    List Price

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The highly anticipated second collection from the Irish-Canadian poet whose work has garnered international attention.

Poems of stringent aesthetic demands and volcanic emotional release make up Stevie Howell's wondrous I left nothing inside on purpose. These poems--bewildering in their linguistic beauty--verge on prayer in their intense plea to be truly seen by another, a sort of devotional sequence addressing the psychological construct of attachment. Can we change? Has anyone ever changed? Does it matter? Lives marred by injury and violence, both physical and psychic, emerge in the book as meditations on trust, endurance, faith, destruction, and love. Howell's voice combines ferocious intimacy and moral rigour with precision and compassion.

The Hawaiian surf, the neuropsychologist's lab, the deliriums of social media, and the recovery room. From geology to theology, lyric pain to the contemplative mind of the quasi-saint, I left nothing inside on purpose is a deeply affecting, glittering analysis of who we are when we claim to be ourselves in the world.

About the author

Stevie Howell is an Irish-Canadian writer, critic, and editor. Their first collection of poetry, Sharps, was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Stevie's poetry has appeared in U.S. publications, including BOAAT, Prelude, and Gigantic Sequins; in Canadian publications, including Hazlitt, The Walrus, and Maisonneuve; and in overseas publications including The Rialto, The Moth, and Southword. They have written literary criticism for The Rumpus, Ploughshares, and the Globe and Mail. Stevie Howell is the poetry editor at THIS Magazine, and is an MFA candidate in creative writing at NYU.

Stevie Howell's profile page

Editorial Reviews




"The sense that the world ought to be comprehensible cannot be overcome or out-thought, and so at the irreducible core of everything is a shard of betraying—there is, after all, no ought in nature. Again and again, the poems in Stevie Howell's I left nothing inside on purpose attempt to provide that ought—'Yr mother worked for the doctor. She was also the doctor'—which is to say, I left nothing inside on purpose is a book of bewildered lament, as only the truest and smartest books are." —Shane McCrae, author of In the Language of My Captor

"If you mend a broken bowl with a seam of gold then the fracture becomes more precious than the bowl itself. Stevie Howell's poems are that sort of precious. Stevie's voice is funny, in a dark, tragic, self-conscious sort of way. Restless, in a wise, far-reaching sort of way. Beautiful, in a broken sort of way. I return to them again and again." —Nick Flynn, author of My Feelings

"Stevie Howell’s poems create a dazzling sense of contemporary experience, with all its wounds, as well as the bruising quality of the past: an AI bot named Tay learns to be racist and sexist from 'Talking w/ humans;' Kintsugi pottery and fragments from Kierkegaard, D.H. Lawrence, and the vocabulary of self-help rattle through the deceptive transparency of Howell’s lines. The voice here insists on ironic distance and uncomfortable intimacy, poetic history and the banality of the present, 'crowdfunded innocence' and 'how pain never knows when to stop.' This collection is sophisticated, funny, and sad, often within the same line." --Jury Citation, Raymond Souster Award

"Stevie Howell’s I left nothing inside on purpose is a tour-de-force with its own short-hand, its own formal ingenuity and its own off-kilter insights. The poems explore a range of topics, from a concussion-induced trip to a Hawaiian hospital, to the unlikely geological accident that results in the formation of malachite; from romantic strife to struggles with infertility and alcoholism, to the absurd phenomenon of being a human self in this strange multifarious world. Throughout, the poems are vulnerable, innovative, funny, and piercingly smart.” —Jury Citation, Trillium Book Award for Poetry

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