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Desperately Seeking Susans
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Desperately Seeking Susans

By 49thShelf
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A gathering of Poetic Susans, as inspired by http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/03/02/desperately-seeking-susans/
Joy Is So Exhausting

Joy Is So Exhausting

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tagged : canadian

Joyfully melding knowing humour and torqued-up wordplay, Holbrook’s second collection is a comic fusion of the experimental and the experiential, the procedural and the lyric. Punch lines become sucker punches, line breaks slip into breakdowns, the serious plays comical and the comical turns deadly serious. Holbrook's poems don’t use humour as much as they deconstruct the comic impulse, exposing its roots in the political, the psychological and the emotional life of the mind. Many of these p …

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A powerful diptych juxtaposing our rootedness in family love with a report from the precipice of planetary disintegration.

Sue Goyette's outskirts is a tour de force. Its originality lies in Goyette's refusal of despair, her conviction that the connections among people, their conversation, curiosity, empathy and awe, can help us see a way forward. Her aim is to find energy in human love, a way to walk the darkness rather than hide from it. This book will name you, and frighten you; make you laugh …

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Origami Dove

Origami Dove

tagged : canadian

The first collection of new poems in more than a decade from one of Canada's most vibrant and original writers.

With her first major collection in ten years, Susan Musgrave displays a range of form and expression that may surprise even her most faithful readers. The quiet, lapidary elegies of “Obituary of Light” are set against the furious mischief of “Random Acts of Poetry,” where the lines move with the inventive energy of a natural storyteller, while “Heroines” wrests a harsh and …

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Another Valentine’s Day behind bars
and I bring you light from the stars
that you might find your way back to us
out of darkness. I bring you memories
of me – naked, happy, nine months’ pregnant
tasting applesauce in the kitchen.

I bring you the wind, the way
our house creaked as you rocked
our newborn daughter who couldn’t sleep.

I bring a handful of rain
that you may remember the sound of it,
and the smell of the earth
when you turn it in your hands.
I don’t know why our life took
the turn it did, but now the smell
of earth reminds you – the magnolia
tree you planted the day
our daughter was born: did it live?

I bring you tears, the ones you wept
mixed with the milky scent of those I kept
locked up in me as we sang our daughter
to sleep those first merciful years –
if I could I would give you wings
to carry you up to the sky.
When I kiss your eyes, your sudden cry
startles the magnolia to a deeper white.

smelled of Madagascar vanilla.
After touching you for the last time
I scrubbed the scent from my skin – I would try
to remember later what the water felt like
on my hands but it was like trying to remember
thirst when you are drowning. They say love
doesn’t take much, you just have to be there
when it comes around. I’d been there
from the beginning, I’ve been here all along.

I believed in everything: the hope
in you, your brokenness, the way
you arranged cut flowers on a tray
beside my blue- and- white teacup, the cracked
cup I’d told you brought me luck, the note
you wrote, These flowers are a little ragged
– like your husband. The day you died

of an overdose in Vancouver
I found a moonshell in the forest, far
from the sea; when I picked it up
and pressed it to my ear I could hear you
taking the last breath you had the sad luck

to breathe. Our daughter cupped her hands
over her ears, as if she could stop death
from entering the life she had believed in
up until now. Childhood as she had known it
was over: the slap
of the breakers, the wind bruising the sea
tells her she is no longer safe in this world –
it’s you she needs. I see you pulling away
after shooting up in the car while we
stood crying on the road, begging
you to come home. The vast sky
does not stop wild clouds
from flying. This boundless grieving,
for whom is it carried on?

Nothing out of the ordinary, only
a doe and her fawn nudging
the hard yellow apple
you left on the grass, a fist- sized
Golden Delicious, the kind
that makes your mouth bleed
when you bite into it. The doe
raises her head when you step out
onto the deck to smoke your last
cigarette of the evening. Nothing
out of the ordinary, only the same
forgivable habit. I say, nothing
when you ask what’s the matter
later, and then I start weeping
I can’t help it I can’t

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I, Nadja and Other Poems

I, Nadja and Other Poems

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Poems that reach towards the lost or the might have been.

In her debut collection, Susan Elmslie delves into the life and mental illness of the real person behind André Breton's surrealist romance, Nadja, recovering the story of a flesh and blood woman who became a symbol for the unknowability of the feminine and the irrational side of the human psyche. Ultimately, I, Nadja is about many women as Elmslie’s lyrically astute, confident lines move into the daily world of motherhood, adolescent me …

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Swimming Among the Ruins

Swimming Among the Ruins

tagged : canadian

These poems imagine the reconciliation of material reality with the spirit's longing, through travel, the physical displacement of time and space, through contemplation, and through the unsettling of language. The submerged foundations of a ruined city, place names that recall the past, ancient statuary, a drop of water echoing in an empty tomb, personal memories, heat left on a path walked by generations?these remnants of passage are examined intensely, often through a lens rippled by water or …

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Blackberries, Brambles

Akhmatova wrote, "O look!—that fresh dark elderberry branch is like a letter from Marina..." And she was right, branches criss- cross, words sharpen. We lop them down, fit them into envelopes. But I forget: you don't do letters: Too much tangled in thickets and desperation.

Did I say envelopes? I meant elevators. See, I've snagged favourite sweaters in high rises, snarled hair in hedges, given up skin scrapings for blackberries, tongueburst, the sweet stain, explosion under light canine pressure. Don't you just wish you were a dog sometimes? No panic. Romping through brambles.

Even in delirium, near death, Akhmatova remembered. Her bitter friend had been dead a long time. Love. Don't think I'm thinking about you. Anything but you.



The lake is still, after the flash rain.

A water spider crosses from shore to dock propelled by snapping legs fine as a strand of hair.

I lie on my stomach on rough cedar, watch through one of the gaps a green wedge of this strange world. The sun wraps me in a warm skin, dries the damp behind my knees and in the small of my back, brushes the hair on my neck. Heat passes through me. I am cooled in stripes by the fresh water under me. A young eel writhes into the green, spirals between minnows like a lost necklace falling through time into obscuring grass. I miss you. My fingers slip into the crack beside my eyes.

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Clarity Between Clouds

Clarity Between Clouds

tagged : canadian

In Clarity Between Clouds, Susan Ioannou's disarmingly intimate voice strikes piercingly close to the harsh realities of existence, breaking open to reveal startling insights and sly bits of aphoristic wisdom. For Ioannou, poetry is a highly personal act which surfaces from everyday existence, permitting her to confront mortality and discover what is truly human. But Susan Ioannou's world is by no means narrowly composed. Rather, the poems in this collection expand beyond the everyday to include …

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Running in Prospect Cemetary

Running in Prospect Cemetary

New and Selected Poems
tagged : canadian

Running in Prospect Cemetery includes the best work from Susan Glickman's four previous volumes, as well as a large selection of superb new poems that continue to demonstrate her versatility, confidence, compassion and humour. Glickman has been a Signal poet since the publication of Complicity in 1983, a collection that prompted The Journal of Commonwealth Literature to hail her as "one of the finest of the new generation of Canadian writers," a promise she has brilliantly fulfilled in an extrao …

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A Paper Affair

A Paper Affair

Poems Selected and New
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This new collection from one of our premier poets showcases works of uncommon spirituality, explorations into philosophy and science, as well as evocations of love, grief, and unexpected comfort. This selection includes both new and out-of-print poems from: Until the Light Bends, Uncommon Prayer, Learning to Ride, The Hummingbird Murders, Dangerous Graces, and Dark Galaxies.

A Paper Affairencompasses all the stages of McMaster’s lyrical and engaging “page poetry” from her first solo collec …

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