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Not One of These Poems Is About You

Written by Teva Harrison

Published January 07, 2020 | ISBN 9781487006921

Cover of Not One of These Poems Is About You

Regular price $21.95 CAD

104 pages | 8 in × 5.875 in
Print Format

Also Available as an Ebook

About this book

Not One of These Poems Is About You

Teva Harrison

From Teva Harrison, the award-winning author and illustrator of In-Between Days, comes a powerful work of poetry and art in which she continues to explore what it means to live with metastatic breast cancer.

In this remarkable, frank, and gut-wrenching mix of words and images, Teva continues on her journey, grappling with what it means to live with metastatic breast cancer. She plunges deep into her inner world, shadowing the progression of the disease. Reality takes on sharp edges: the swell of cancer and its retreat with chemo. Her inner corporeal reality versus her outer manifestation of health, vitality, and femininity. Holding fast to the great love of her life, while preparing to leave him behind. Contemplating who she was before cancer, and who she is now.

Starkly honest and wholly profound, Not One of These Poems Is About You distills life to its essence. Teva Harrison continues to gift the world with her clear-eyed insight and her open heart.

Awards and Praise


“In Not One of These Poems Is About You, author and artist Teva Harrison has documented the beauty, fullness, and magic of life and human connection in an honest, vulnerable, and tender collection of poems and line drawings.” — Globe and Mail

Not One of These Poems Is About You is an intimate consideration of the oceanic, immense nature of endings and the tidal ever-afters left for the living. Passionate and defiant in the face of metastatic cancer, Harrison’s poems ‘stand/alone/with [their] own truths, acute/supercharged.’ These poems shine as she did: with fierce lucidity and everyday magic.” — Dani Couture, award-winning author of Listen Before Transmit and Algoma

“Chiaroscuro is, in art, the treatment of light and shade used to create depth and dimension. Teva’s poems have that play of light and shadow. They beam such love and the very whole of life, its essence at the very moment when her own life is receding. She asks us to lean in and listen, and though her voice may be a whisper, it can still shatter glass. Her words hold duality. They are deeply personal, profoundly universal. They are profane and sacred. She is not with us, but she is with us. The poems, each word painstakingly chosen, are polished stones fetched up on the shores of our lives. I am so grateful for this collection: to hear her voice again now, and always.” — Shelagh Rogers, O.C., host and producer of The Next Chapter, CBC Radio

Not One of These Poems Is About You is a radical act of witness — a testimony to being alive with terminal cancer. Teva Harrison’s rawness and vulnerability, her lucid eye and tired body become, here, vital sites of reckoning. This is her offering — to say, it was like this, to say, live, to say, remember. Buy this book. Gift it to others. Love while you can.” — Aislinn Hunter, award-winning author of Linger, Still and Possible Past

“This achingly honest and tender collection is a precious gift from an artist who savoured life more fully than anyone else I know. From intimate moments shared with a lover, to the fear and isolation of illness, these poems are Teva’s candid and generous invitation to join her on her journey from life into death. Not One of These Poems Is About You is one of the few books I can think of that makes me a little less afraid of dying, and a little less afraid of losing those I love.” — Jordan Tannahill, award-winning playwright and author of Liminal


Winner, Kobo Emerging Writer Prize: Nonfiction
Finalist, Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction
Finalist, Joe Shuster Award: Cartoonist or Auteur
A Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year
A National Post Best Book of the Year
A Kobo Best Book of the Year
A Quill & Quire Book of the Year
A Globe and Mail Most Anticipated Book of the Year
Named One of 16 Torontonians to Watch by the Globe and Mail

“In her heartbreakingly honest exploration of these spaces in-between, Harrison provides a useful guide for those who cannot know the thoughts and fears of someone living with chronic illness; and for those experiencing a similar situation, the book shows that even in the most personal of journeys, you are not alone. At its heart, In-Between Days is a firm statement that joy and hope can exist in the same space as anxiety and fear; that each day we are given should be lived, as Harrison says, ‘With a sense of wonder and delight.’” — National Post

“Harrison’s drawing style is more freeform than finicky, and her linework has an appealing vulnerability. But even beyond that aesthetic quality, there’s a remarkable directness to seeing vignettes from a life coloured by cancer that cuts to the quick.” — Maclean’s Magazine

“This unforgettable memoir takes readers on a grueling and very personal journey into cancer treatment … With brutally honest writing, she describes the challenge of balancing pain management with being fully immersed in her life, and the problem with hope … Harrison’s short, sharp essays are raw, brilliant, thought-provoking, and very disquieting.” — Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“A devastating and inspiring cancer memoir mixing drawings and essays, hope and dread … The narrative amplifies the art, as each single-page comic is followed by a short essay with the same title, the words illuminating the theme with greater depth and nuance, the drawings conveying feelings and experiences so powerful that they transcend expression in words … The memoir expands from a single woman’s treatment into the legacy left by cancer within her blood ties. It is also a love story, as the author felt an almost immediate connection with the man who would soon become her husband and has remained so supportive throughout the pain, the treatments, and the hope. This isn’t easy reading, for cancer isn’t an easy disease. As the title of the graphic memoir suggests, the author feels like she is in limbo, that she is dying with a fatal disease yet continuing to find passion and purpose in living a day at a time. The narrative has a cathartic power for her, but it also serves a greater purpose, giving readers the sort of account she wished she’d had … What Harrison has learned through her ordeal is that whatever she is feeling, it is natural to feel — and that, ultimately, all of us are living with the same finite mortality. An impressive graphic memoir.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Harrison openly shares her inner doubts, joys, and pain — not as a hero but as a human. That she does so makes this one of the most powerful memoirs on the subject.” — Quill & Quire

“Teva Harrison’s memoir is a frank, moving, powerfully minimalist yet deceptively complex work of art. With seemingly simple, but ingeniously pared-down strokes, Harrison bestows upon her readers the gift of complete empathy. Without forcing a thing she makes her readers FEEL how she feels — it’s remarkable! — and by the end of this powerful shared experience, by allowing her readers into her heart and mind, she occupies with us both our present and future. We’re all in great shape, we realize thanks to Harrison, as living, feeling, loving human beings.” — Guy Maddin

“As someone recovering from a serious illness, I related so deeply to Teva’s work. No one writes about illness like this, it was hard to stop crying (in a happy way) because I felt so understood.” — Kathleen Hanna, artist, musician (Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, The Julie Ruin), and feminist activist

“With insight and honesty, Teva Harrison invites us to join her on this deeply personal, beautifully expressed journey with cancer. Through this remarkable book, we encounter awkward ironies, the quietly harrowing reality of our mortal human condition, and moments of distilled life and beauty. Wryly unflinching in her examination of her condition, its treatment, and herself, Teva shares with us the gift that emerges from her in-between days.” — Vincent Lam, author of The Headmaster’s Wager

“Beautiful, heartbreaking, honest, and true, In-Between Days explores not just what it means to live with terminal cancer, but what it means to live with integrity in the face of our mortality. I couldn’t put it down.” — Alison Pick, author of Between Gods and Far to Go

“With great wisdom, Teva Harrison understands that her cancer doesn’t make her special. But this book certainly does. Through her art and her words, we are reminded of the power of creativity, and that hope for the future is an essentially creative act.” — Andrew Westoll, author of The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary

“Teva Harrison’s diagnosis with incurable cancer removes the expectation of an abundance of more — more dreams fulfilled, more time — but focuses her attention on the near and immediate. In this honest and raw memoir, Harrison examines and discovers, grieves, and celebrates, and takes us with her as she crafts a ragged and resonant beauty from her experience in these In-Between Days.” — Miranda Hill, author of Sleeping Funny

“How does a person live with meaning — and joy — in the face of a terminal cancer diagnosis? Teva Harrison answers this question with pitch-perfect honesty and clarity, even when delving into her own complex contradictions. From Harrison’s rigorous honesty comes wisdom. In-Between Days is a beautiful offering. This book fills my heart. The world is lucky to have Teva Harrison. She truly knows how to live, and to love.” — Angie Abdou, author of Between

“Teva’s art and reflections powerfully capture the struggles of being young and facing the certain, yet uncertain end of your life. May we all be this honest with ourselves as we deal with life’s challenges. Inspiring, insightful, contemplative, thank you Teva.” — Geoff Eaton, Executive Director, Young Adult Cancer Canada

“There’s no real preparation for how hard Teva Harrison’s stunning graphic novel will hit you. It doesn’t humanize the disease — that would be banal — and it doesn’t aggrandize the journey — that would be self-help bunk. Rather, it portrays the process as something achingly human, a daily tumult of stuff that roughly amounts to survival. Teva Harrison has stared into the abyss. And what has stared back but love?” — Richard Poplak, author of Ja No Man

“Teva Harrison is a metastatic voice that I believe is breaking through. By using humour and creativity to draw people in to a challenging topic, Teva is expanding the breast cancer conversation and shedding light on the complexities and nuances of the disease. I believe In-Between Days will help improve public understanding as well as empower and support others dealing with metastatic breast cancer. Beautifully done.” — MJ DeCoteau, Founder and Executive Director of ReThink Breast Cancer

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