Poetry has a very specific power—the power of being able to convey an entire world in a sentence, a fragment of a sentence, or even two or three words. This April, we’re excited to highlight and feature four books from Canadian poets writing at the top of their game. The worlds in these books are conveyed deftly and with devastating prevision—this is writing from the margins that will shake and rock the ground beneath your feet.
Acclaimed poet Souvankham Thammavongsa returns with her fourth collection, a book about meaning. Meaning can sometimes blow up, crack something we had not seen, or darken what had been seen so clear to us. Meaning can happen with so little and go on to take so much from us. Meaning can sometimes take a long time to arrive, years even, if ever. And it’s possible meaning does not mean, and that in itself could be meaningful. Whatever happens to meaning, it is always there. It means even when you don’t want it. Every poem in this book looks at meaning and the ways in which it arrives, if at all.
In Mythical Man, David Ly builds, and then tears down, an army of men in a quest to explore personhood in the 21st century. Tenderness, toxic masculinity, nuances of queer love, and questions of race and identity mix in Ly’s poetry, casting a spell that enters like “a warm tongue on a first date.”
This Is How We Disappear is at once an exploration of the physical and emotional disappearance of women and a celebration of the magic of shapeshifting as an act of survival too. The poems sit in conversation with each other in a way that highlights how women survive and thrive in spite of the obstacles often stacked against them. The collection is about our small and large acts of resistance, how we choose life, how we are the architects of our own joy even in the face of death.
Part manifesto, part memoir, This Wound is a World is an invitation to “cut a hole in the sky to world inside.” Billy-Ray Belcourt issues a call to turn to love and sex to understand how Indigenous peoples shoulder sadness and pain like theirs without giving up on the future. His poems upset genre and play with form, scavenging for a decolonial kind of heaven where “everyone is at least a little gay.”