A book of poetry from a small press
For National Poetry month, we’re reading books of poetry from small presses. Have a look at our recommendations below!
Another Nirvana, by Archa Sahni
These poems explore the meaning of home and belonging and a search for transcendence through love and art. They reflect on what it means to live between cultures and continents, question traditional female roles, ponder over the role of art in life. The poet’s search for home leads her to different places: in her aboriginal friend she finds “a lost part of India/that Columbus never found.” In McLeod Ganj, also known as “Little Tibet,” she imagines a path to Tibet’s freedom. In “Another Nirvana” she grapples with nostalgia as her memories move between parts of India and Toronto, questioning the meaning of home, departure, and belonging.
Your Therapist Says It's Magical Thinking, by Sadie McCarney
Sadie McCarney’s Your Therapist Says It’s Magical Thinking is a buoyant second collection that playfully navigates the turbulent waters of life with mental illness and neurodivergence. In much of the book, history and science are treated the way they are often viewed by a brain in mental turmoil: places and events get switched around, facts get rewritten, and the fantastical reigns supreme. Through poems ranging from didactic (the horrible “self-care” advice received by the poet when she was struggling most) to historical fiction (patients in an asylum in 1800s England), to the quirky and unexpectedly fantastical (a rainbow carpool unicorn, a young child’s timeline reversing each morning, and an everything bagel that includes competing theories of time), McCarney digs deep into the muck of her own lived experience. She resurfaces with, if not gold, at least an old time capsule and a few treasured hunks of bone. Your Therapist Says It’s Magical Thinking highlights the sometimes dubious (but always jubilant) inner workings of a mentally unwell brain at play — especially within the context of a larger society that frequently seeks to tamp down this weird and rare form of magic.
The Punishment, by Joseph Dandurand
The Punishment is the latest addition to the oeuvre of prolific Kwantlen writer Joseph Dandurand, whose stunning previous collection, The East Side of It All, was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize.
In The Punishment, Joseph Dandurand’s now-familiar storyteller’s voice wrangles trauma, grief, forgiveness and love. His poems illustrate the poet’s solitary existence. With scenes of residential school, the psych ward, the streets and the river, Dandurand reveals an arduous journey: one poet’s need to both understand his life and find ways to escape it. Through poetry, he shares with us all his lovers. He shares the streets. He shares what he sees: the great eagles and small birds; his culture and teachings; the East Side; self-pity; the deception of love; the deception of hate; sasquatches; spirits; and his people, the Kwantlen.
At root, The Punishment is about survival. Dandurand’s poems will show you disease. They’ll show you cedar. They’ll show you music. They’ll show you shadows. They’ll show you forgiveness, and they’ll show you punishment.
You Still Look The Same, by Farzana Doctor (Available on Audible Canada)
This debut poetry collection from acclaimed novelist Farzana Doctor (Seven) is both an intimate deep dive and a humorous glance at the tumultuous decade of her forties. Through crisp and vivid language, Doctor explores mid-life breakups and dating, female genital cutting, imprints of racism and misogyny, and the oddness of sex and love, and urges us to take a second look at the ways in which human relationships are never what we expect them to be.
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