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Poetry Lgbt

The Emily Valentine Poems

Tenth Anniversary Edition

by (author) Zoe Whittall

Invisible Publishing
Initial publish date
Oct 2016
LGBT, Canadian, Women Authors
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2016
    List Price

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The Emily Valentine Poems is an innovative book that challenges the impossible notions of femininity that permeate our culture. The texts within include self-portraits, prose poems, fake fan letters, and confessional lyric snapshots. These are pharmaceutically enhanced tributes to the hangovers of twenty-something love and to the pop icons from an unconventional 1980s childhood. With The Emily Valentine Poems, Zoe Whittall provides us with the perfect soundtrack for the culturally literate rebel in all of us.

“Zoe Whittall might just be the cockiest, brashest, funniest, toughest, most life-affirming, elegant, scruffy, no-holds-barred writer to emerge from Montreal since Mordecai Richler.”The Globe and Mail

“This reminds me that I would like to know everything about this person.”—Eileen Myles

About the author

ZOE WHITTALL’s third novel, The Best Kind of People is currently being adapted for limited series by director Sarah Polley. It was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, named Indigo’s #1 Book of 2016, a Heather’s Pick and a Best Book of the Year by the Walrus, the Globe and Mail, Toronto Life and the National Post. Her second novel, Holding Still for as Long as Possible, won a Lambda Literary Award for trans fiction and was an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book. Her debut novel, Bottle Rocket Hearts, won the Dayne Ogilvie Prize and is being adapted for screen. In 2014 Whittall sold her first sitcom, Breaking, to CTV, and recently optioned the half-hour comedy Wellville to CBC. She has worked as a TV writer on the Emmy Award–winning comedy Schitt’s Creek and the Baroness Von Sketch Show, for which she won a 2018 Canadian Screen Award. She has written three volumes of poetry, most recently an anniversary reissue of The Emily Valentine Poems, about which Eileen Myles said, “I would like to know everything about this person.” Zoe Whittall was born on a sheep farm in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, has an MFA from the University of Guelph and has called Toronto home since 1997. 

Zoe Whittall's profile page

Excerpt: The Emily Valentine Poems: Tenth Anniversary Edition (by (author) Zoe Whittall)

Serenade from the Porch at the Parkdale Gem

1. I had a wisdom tooth pulled by a macho dentist at King and Dufferin whose nitrous machine didn’t work. Through the window I watched a woman in cut-off sweat shorts throw her red pumps at a guy in plaid pants while the dentist sewed up my 3 stitches.

He called me tough.

My lover kept the tooth in a small tube meant for cocaine in a necklace around her neck. I mistook her action for devotion when it was simply accessorizing.

2. The first day of a bruise.

A June bug is making out with the porch light again. 40 watts vs. Scarab beetle.

Repeat : a giant ladybug with vertigo.

Rhonda’s chihuahua barks at the ceramic bunny formed with willing hands to smile constantly. Leader of all porch ornaments, staring down the tiny shrubs, candy wrappers, water-logged paperbacks from the library at the end of the street. In the park the swing pines for WD-40.

I feel defeated pinching the bruise around its edge; my thumb and fingernail are making skinny hearts. Starving is not holy.

3. I’m nervous. Expecting sutures instead of flat skin

I’m waiting.

My eyebrows are giving me panic attacks.

4. Toronto Welcomes the Pope. Suddenly even the guy who punches people outside the 7-11 is a believer.

Pilgrims are selling memorabilia on my way to work at the cafe on Roncesvalles. Uniform red shoulder bags walking in packs, singing hymns. Their eyes announce We Are Coming to Get You. I drink too much coffee. It’s free. I blend it with Fair Trade sugar and cinnamon.

2 giant blue cups of water for the pregnant woman at table 2.

The cops sweep up undesirables—

please step back and allow the visitors to enjoy

the unobstructed view.

I sweep up the cafe floor.

At 3am on Church street, red-shouldered boys with Jesus T-shirts kiss each other on the steps outside the Second Cup.

Later they yell fucking dykes when we walk to Blockbuster to rent Ma Vie En Rose for the fourth time.

5. I almost died in a freight elevator on my way to get laid

by someone twice my age I couldn’t even really talk to.

I chewed my nails until they bled, watered down prayers when the box went black and the cables paused. Ridiculous faith when fingers crossed. I wish I may, I wish I might.

The click and whirr sound of being saved

by invention.

6. Today I kicked the bank machine

other peoples’ receipts stuck to my boot.

Editorial Reviews

“Zoe Whittall might just be the cockiest, brashest, funniest, toughest, most life-affirming, elegant, scruffy, no-holds-barred writer to emerge from Montreal since Mordecai Richler.”The Globe and Mail

"Whittal is able to compactly reveal the sadness, anxiety, madness, and desire of her poetic subjects, using potent imagery and dark humour."Montreal Review of Books

“Zoe Whittall’s book of poetry begins with a sense of frustration: ‘You have love and the word love, but the two will never meet.’ Once into this attractively packaged collection, you can quickly deem Whittall’s frustration with language unnecessary. Her words, dense with meaning, flow in such a serene manner that they beg to be read aloud. With these words, Whittall transforms you into a shameless voyeur, peering into the speaker’s strangest emotions and wildest weekends.”—Broken Pencil

"Zoe Whittall’s works in The Emily Valentine Poems will have you smiling, sneering, smirking, and just plain irking in no time at all."Black Heart Magazine

“This reminds me that I would like to know everything about this person.”—Eileen Myles

“Zoe Whittall’s poems are snake bite cures masquerading as candy.”—RM Vaughan

"Whittall's big sense of humour is the under-coat on all these poems but it doesn't take much reminding that the serious side of Zoe Whittall is stone cold."—Michael Dennis