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Poetry Lgbt

The Gospel of Breaking

by (author) Jillian Christmas

Arsenal Pulp Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2020
LGBT, Women Authors
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2020
    List Price

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Winner, Writers' Trust of Canada Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers
Shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award

In The Gospel of Breaking, Jillian Christmas confirms what followers of her performance and artistic curation have long known: there is magic in her words. Befitting someone who "speaks things into being," Christmas extracts from family history, queer lineage, and the political landscape of a racialized life to create a rich, softly defiant collection of poems.

Christmas draws a circle around the things she calls "holy": the family line that cannot find its root but survived to fill the skies with radiant flesh; the body, broken and unbroken and broken and new again; the lover lost, the friend lost, and the loss itself; and the hands that hold them all with brilliant, tender care. Expansive and beautiful, these poems allow readers to swim in Jillian Christmas's mother-tongue and to dream at her shores.

About the author

Jillian Christmas is a queer, afro-Caribbean writer living on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam people (Vancouver, BC). Jillian works as an artist, educator, curator and consultant, she is the long-time spoken word curator of the Vancouver Writers Fest, and former artistic director of Verses Festival of Words. She has won numerous Grand Poetry Slam Championship titles and represented both Toronto and Vancouver at eleven national poetry events, notably breaking ground as the first Canadian to perform on the final stage of the Women of the World Poetry Slam. Christmas is the author of The Gospel of Breaking (Arsenal Pulp Press 2020), and the forthcoming children’s book, The Magic Shell (Flamingo Rampant Press 2021).


Jillian Christmas' profile page


  • Short-listed, Gerald Lampert Memorial Award
  • Short-listed, Pat Lowther Memorial Award
  • Winner, Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers

Editorial Reviews

I am taken by the adventurous forms that leap off the page in The Gospel of Breaking and how those forms are complemented by the ability of Jillian Christmas. The winding forms are held together by pristine imagery, a crisp attention to narrative, and illuminating metaphor. This book, among many other things, is a showcase of how many different ways a poet can show themselves to be dazzling. -Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, author of They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us

An amazing and beautiful collection of poems. -Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian

In her incandescent debut volume The Gospel of Breaking, Christmas has given readers a chance to hear her heart beating. -Vancouver Sun

The Gospel of Breaking is both a tender and swift-kicking collection. From gentle folk poems of love, longing, and community to Tobagonian family narratives and confident spoken word pieces in Canadian West Coast vernacular, this work shows a poet shifting between the flexible power of performance and the immovable page. These are the witch hymns of becoming. They are the proud songs of a queer, black, unapologetic womxn on the rise with the breeze of the Pacific Northwest and Caribbean at her back. In her own words, 'reminder to the audience: / there is a bright body alive on the stage / invite them into the space / can you feel their generous bending / swell of a praise-song quick and rocking at the back of our throats.' -Tanya Evanson, author of Nouveau Griot

Jillian Christmas is incantatory and disarming, sensitive and cerebral, fiercely defiant and courageously tender. 'I love hard as I know how,' she writes, distilling the project of our time. -David Chariandy, author of Brother and Soucouyant

Jillian Christmas richly expresses the revered and the intimate, handling readers with care. -Quill and Quire

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