April is Poetry Month! Along with 4 stunning collections of poetry comes a graphic memoir about living with cancer, a tale from one of Canada’s funniest literary talents, and an inspiring true story about two young concentration camp survivors.
A Pillow Book by Suzanne Buffam
Available: April 09
Not a narrative. Not an essay. Not a shopping list. Not a song. Not a diary. Not an etiquette manual. Not a confession. Not a prayer. Not a secret letter sent through the silent palace hallways before dawn. Staking its claim on the slightest of subjects, A Pillow Book leads the reader on a darkly comic tour through the dim-lit valley of fitful sleep. The miscellaneous memoranda, minutiae, dreamscapes, and lists that comprise this book-length work disclose a prismatic meditation on the price of privilege; the petty grievances of marriage, motherhood, art, and office politics; the indignities of age; and the putative properties of dreams, among other themes, set in the dead of winter in a townhouse on the South Side of Chicago, on the eve of the end of geohistory. Feather-light in its touch, quixotic in its turns, and resolutely deadpan in its delivery, A Pillow Book offers a twenty-first-century response to a thousand-year-old Japanese genre which resists, while slyly absorbing, all attempts to define it.
Box Kite by Roo Borson & Kim Maltman
Available: April 09
“A piece of paper with writing on it is flat, but when what is written on that paper fills the mind of a reader, it takes off into the wind like a box kite on a windy day,” writes Baziju — the shared voice of poets Roo Borson and Kim Maltman. This exquisite, collaboratively written sequence of prose poems, unfolding through rich, delicate imagery, journeys through streets and gardens, houses and temples, cities and countryside, Canada and China. It is a meditation on the way we travel between places and between times, and how words and ideas travel between languages.
Baziju explores the literature of China, from centuries past to the present, exploring, at the same time, the meaning of hope and of home: childhood homes, the homes we grow into, and the homes in our minds. In Lu Xun’s classic story “My Old Home,” the hero returns from a distant city to the home he left two decades earlier. Hope, he ponders, “is just like the roads of the earth. . . . [T]o begin with the earth has no roads, but where many people pass, there a road is made.”
These sensual, deeply personal prose poems ponder change, loss, friendship, and belonging. In a life in which every detail has significance, the smallest observation grows, and spreads like the branches of wisteria.
Little Dogs by Michael Crummey
Available: April 09
Twenty years after the publication of his debut, Little Dogs: New and Selected Poems brings together selections from Michael Crummey’s first four books of poetry with a significant offering of new work. In this collection, Crummey emerges not only as the master storyteller we know him to be, but also as one of our great poets of connection. Whether reporting from a solitary room or a shared bed, recalling the barbed delirium of adolescence, the subtler negotiations of mature love, or the generational echoes between fathers and sons, these poems are deeply engaged in the business of living with others. Of living with the absence of those who have shaped and sometimes scarred us. Unafraid of confronting the darker corners of desire or of digging into the past to make sense of the present, Crummey has already given us a tremendous body of work. Little Dogs showcases the evolution of one the most distinct and celebrated Canadian writers of his generation.
The Waking Comes Late by Steven Heighton
Available: April 09
Governor General’s Literary Award finalist and bestselling author Steven Heighton returns with a collection of laments and celebrations that reflect on our struggle to believe in the future of a world that continues to disappoint us. The poet challenges the boundaries of sleep and even death in these meditations on what lies just beneath the surface of contemporary life. These are poems that trouble over the idea of failure even as they continually recommit to the present moment. This is fierce music performed in a minor key.
Today I learned It Was You by Edward Riche
Available: April 16
Hilariously sending up the drama and dysfunction of local politics, overzealous rights activists, and the perils of contemporary social media, Today I Learned It Was You is another bitingly brilliant comic novel from one of Canada’s funniest and most astute literary talents.
When a retired actor who frequents a city park is purported to be transitioning from man to deer, municipal authorities in St. John’s, Newfoundland, find themselves confronted by an exasperatingly difficult problem. Complications mount as advocates, bureaucrats, police, and local politicians try to corral the situation, which escalates into an even bigger problem after the story blows up on Facebook.
Leading the charge is the mayor himself. A former professional hockey player and local hero, Mayor Matt Olford is juggling a number of personal challenges on top of his city’s man-deer problem: his wife has become a born-again Christian and he’s found himself attracted to one of his colleagues at City Hall. When the Prime Minister’s Office calls to ask if he’ll run as a Conservative in the next federal election, Mayor Olford finds himself at a crossroads: Surrender his political values or remain as the sole voice of reason on the increasingly ineffective city council?
In-Between Days by Teva Harrison
Available: April 23
Teva Harrison was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at the age of 37. In this brilliant and inspiring graphic memoir, she documents through comic illustration and short personal essays what it means to live with the disease. She confronts with heartbreaking honesty the crises of identity that cancer brings: a lifelong vegetarian, Teva agrees to use experimental drugs that have been tested on animals. She struggles to reconcile her long-term goals with an uncertain future, balancing the innate sadness of cancer with everyday acts of hope and wonder. She also examines those quiet moments of helplessness and loving with her husband, her family, and her friends, while they all adjust to the new normal.
Ultimately, In-Between Days is redemptive and uplifting, reminding each one of us of how beautiful life is, and what a gift.
Fever at Dawn by Péter Gárdos
Available: April 30
Twenty-five-year-old Holocaust survivor Miklós is being shipped from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp to Gotland, Sweden, to receive treatment at the Larbro Hospital. Here he is sentenced to death again: he is diagnosed with tuberculosis and his doctors inform him that he has six months to live. But Miklós decides to wage war on his own fate: he writes 117 letters to 117 Hungarian girls, all of whom are being treated in the Swedish camps, with the aim of eventually choosing a wife from among them.
Two hundred kilometres away, in another Swedish rehabilitation camp, nineteen-year-old Lili receives Miklós’s letter. Since she is bedridden for three weeks due to a serious kidney problem, out of boredom — and curiosity — she decides to write back.
The slightly formal exchange of letters becomes increasingly intimate. When the two finally manage to meet, they fall in love and are determined to marry, despite the odds that are against them.
Based on the ninety-six original letters written by Miklós and Lili, Fever at Dawn is a tale of passion, striving, and betrayal; true and false friendships; doubt and faith; and the redeeming power of love.