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2023 Fall Preview: Poetry, Memoir, and Biography


Theophylline: A Poetic Migration via the Modernisms of Rukeyser, Bishop, Grimké (de Castro, Vallejo)
Erín Moure and Elisa Sampedrín
House of Anansi Press, August

Award-winning poet and translator Erín Moure looks for the future of poetry in its queer and female past by approaching the work of American poets Muriel Rukeyser, Elizabeth Bishop, and Angelina Weld Grimké as though to translate them – even though the poetry is already in English. Also credited for the book is Elisa Sampedrín, Moure’s alter ego, who intrudes on the work and is noted in the author bio as being “undependable.” –Cassandra Drudi

Bottom Rail on Top
D.M. Bradford
Brick Books, September

From Montreal-based, Griffin Poetry Prize–shortlisted writer D.M. Bradford comes a new poetry collection that explores the interconnections between Black American life both before and after emancipation, and personal and familial traumas. Deeply rooted in history, Bottom Rail on Top undoes linear historical narratives and reintegrates their moments, documents, and figures into a study of self, diaspora, and legacy. –Andrew Woodrow-Butcher

After That
Lorna Crozier
McClelland & Stewart, September

In her 19th collection, celebrated poet Lorna Crozier engages with the grief she experienced after the death of poet Patrick Lane, with whom she lived for 40 years. Crozier shines a light on sorrow and illuminates the metaphysical space beyond the domestic and natural worlds, revealing everyday creatures such as paper wasps and herons as library doyens and aging monks. –CD

Love Language
Nasser Hussain
Coach House Books, September

On the heels of his successful SKY WRI TEI NGS, a collection of poems written entirely in airport codes, comes U.K.-based academic and poet Nasser Hussain’s new work, Love Language. With his signature humour and penchant for formal experimentation, Hussain playfully looks at what exactly constitutes the language(s) of love, while simultaneously revelling in his own love of language. –AWB

Soft Inheritance
Fawn Parker
Palimpsest Press, September

Giller-nominated author Fawn Parker makes her poetic debut with this collection of poems that meditate on grief and illness. Written after her mother was diagnosed with cancer, the poems in Soft Inheritance come from the ever-shifting reality disease brings to a life, as Parker addresses both the sick body as well as what comes after, including post-caretaking and post-death. –CD

Sonnets from a Cell
Bradley Peters
Brick Books, September

B.C. poet, actor, and carpenter Bradley Peters draws on his own experiences as a teenager and young adult in the Canadian prison system in these poems that are both for and about the incarcerated. In poems that are at once tough and tender, Peters mixes the lexicon of inmates with skateboard slang and contemporary lyricism to bring readers into places that are usually beyond reach for most people. –CD

Sandra Ridley
Book*hug, October

Award-winning poet Sandra Ridley’s fourth book deploys the figure of the fox in its examination of the connections between sexual violence and the idea of the hunt. On the verge of ecological collapse, in places or moments when the domestic and the wild intermingle or clash, Vixen offers a strange and compelling tour of cruelty and defiance. –AWB

From the Lost and Found Department: New and Selected Poems
Joy Kogawa
McClelland & Stewart/Penguin Random House Canada, November

This collection combines new work from the groundbreaking poet and author with a selection of some of the best of Kogawa’s work from five collections spanning from 1967 to 2003. –Attila Berki


Becoming a Matriarch
Helen Knott
Alchemy by Knopf Canada/Penguin Random House Canada, August

The author of the critically acclaimed memoir In My Own Moccasins confronts the grief of losing her mother and grandmother in this exploration of generational and personal change, and the real meaning of matriarchy. –AB

Terry & Me: The Inside Story of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope
Bill Vigars
Sutherland House, August

Bill Vigars shares an inside look at Terry Fox’s cross-Canada quest for the first time. As the director of public relations and fundraising for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Ontario division, Vigars was Fox’s public relations organizer and friend on the endeavour, and explores the logistics and boardroom disputes while sharing an insightful portrait of a famous Canadian. –CD

Like Every Form of Love: A Memoir of Friendship and True Crime
Padma Viswanathan
Random House Canada, August

Padma Viswanathan’s chance encounter with a gay, working-class man on Vancouver Island led to a long friendship, and his revelations about the colourful figures in his life inspired the Giller Prize finalist to turn her hand to an unusual biography that encompasses revolutionaries, criminality, fairy tales, class, and sexual identity – and a consideration of the nature of biography itself. –AB

Cracking the Nazi Code: The Untold Story of Canada’s Greatest Spy
Jason Bell
HarperCollins, September

Using recently declassified documents, this first biography of Halifax’s Dr. Winthrop Bell reveals the Harvard philosophy professor and businessman to have been a remarkable MI6 spy. Bell not only provided the first warning of Nazi ideology in 1919, then the Nazi’s plans for war, but was also the first to crack Hitler’s code for the Holocaust. –AB

When My Ghost Sings: A Memoir of Stroke, Recovery & Transformation
Tara Sidhoo Fraser
Arsenal Pulp Press, September

Tara Sidhoo Fraser suffered amnesia after a stroke at age 32, and fragments of returning memories were experienced as if through a ghost’s eyes. A fascinating story of coming to terms with how you are known and seen in the world in contrast to how you feel – and reclaiming a sense of self. –AB

Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World
Naomi Klein
Knopf Canada, September

Part memoir, part reportage, and part cultural critique, Doppelganger explores the dangerous duplicities of our era. A public intellectual who has been mistaken and confused for another cultural theorist named Naomi for much of her career, Klein uses that experience as a starting point for her examination of the ways in which double-talk, slippery online identities, and confusion are playing out in our current political moment. –AWB

I Escaped a Chinese Internment Camp
Anthony Del Col, Fahmida Azim, ill., and Josh Adams, art director
Lev Gleason/Comic House, September

This book of graphic reportage offers Zumrat Dawut’s first-person account of being held in a detention camp for Uyghur women, before eventually escaping and fleeing to the U.S. Writer Anthony Del Col’s interviews with Dawut, as well as her testimony at the UN Human Rights Council, form the basis for the work, which won a Pulitzer Prize for illustrated reporting in its original online serialization. –AWB

Skid Dogs
Emelia Symington-Fedy
Douglas & McIntyre, September

The murder of a teenager along the railroad tracks where Emelia Symington-Fedy and her gang used to hang out two decades earlier brings her back to Armstrong, B.C., and becomes the genesis for this page-turner of a memoir about teenage friendships and the developing sexuality of girls that examines society’s casual misogyny and ’90s rape culture. –AB

Seeking Social Democracy: Seven Decades in the Fight for Equality
Ed Broadbent, Frances Abele, Jonathan Sas, Luke Savage
ECW Press, October

In a book that is part memoir, part political history, and part manifesto, former federal NDP leader Ed Broadbent looks back over his seven-decade career in public life. Written with professor and research fellow Frances Abele, policy and political worker Jonathan Sas, and journalist Luke Savage, Seeking Social Democracy follows Broadbent’s life from his 1930s childhood in Oshawa, Ontario, to the present day. –CD

Instead: Navigating the Adventures of a Childfree Life
Maria Coffey
Rocky Mountain Books, October

The decision to eschew parenthood sprang from Maria Coffey’s experiences with adventurers,  her decision to pursue her own adventures, and the freedom to travel the globe. In a new memoir, the author of Fragile Edge: Loss on Everest and Explorers of the Infinite writes about choosing the unconventional path and how that choice has informed her life. –AB

How to Restore a Timeline: On Violence and Memory
Peter Counter
House of Anansi Press, October

This essay collection explores the nature of trauma and how it fragments memory, a sense of time, and the self. Based on his experience of coping with the shooting of his father, Peter Counter examines how humans deal with both real violence in their lives and a culture ubiquitous with portrayals of conflict and death. –AB

Daddy Lessons
Steacy Easton
Coach House Books, October

Writer and visual artist Steacy Easton explores their sexual awakening in Daddy Lessons, a book that is part memoir and part literary study. Easton explores the spaces of their past, from Anglican boarding schools and Mormon missionaries to Montreal classrooms and back rooms in prairie bars, as well as the formative texts of their youth, including Frank O’Hara and Kip Moore. –CD

Lifeline: An Elegy
Stephanie Kain
ECW Press, October

In this experimental memoir, Stephanie Kain reflects on the complicated relationship she had with a woman diagnosed with suicidal depression. Through personal essays, pieces of prose, poetry, and text-message threads, Kain reveals the intimate and pressing nature of caring for someone with a treatment-resistant condition that ultimately proves fatal. –CD

By the Ghost Light: Wars, Memory, and Families
R.H. Thomson
Knopf Canada/Penguin Random House Canada, October

Inspired by a huge cache of letters written by his family during the First World War, actor and creator of the “The World Remembers” project R.H. Thomson provides a powerful look at how we understand war on an individual, societal, and historical basis. –AB

Protecting the Prairies: Lorne Scott and the Politics of Conservation
Andrea Olive
University of Regina Press, November

Through the biography of unsung environmentalist hero Lorne Scott – a farmer, naturalist, and former provincial environment minister – Andrea Olive provides a history of first-in-Canada wildlife and land conservation initiatives and laws that came about in response to the massive destruction of Saskatchewan’s richly biodiverse grassland ecosystem. –AB

Sleep is Now a Foreign Country: Encounters with the Uncanny
Mike Barnes
Biblioasis, November

Poet and novelist Mike Barnes crafts a memoir of madness, looking back at the psychic break he experienced at the age of 22, reconstructing, analyzing, and exploring what led to the moment and the experience of hallucination, imagination, and a mind hyper-aware of itself. –AB


These fall titles differ in genre, but each provides a look at a particular aspect or person in CanLit.

Farley and Claire: A Love Story
Michael Harris
Greystone Books, October

CanLit icon Farley Mowat and Claire Wheeler met in 1960 and became lovers soon after, despite his marriage to someone else at the time. Journalist and author Michael Harris tells the story of their 54-year relationship, using their letters from the time, as well as Claire’s diaries and archival photographs. –CD

Bait & Switch: Essays, Reviews, Conversations, and Views on Canadian Poetry
Jim Johnstone
Porcupine’s Quill, November

Poet, editor, and critic Jim Johnstone takes an expansive look at Canadian poetry, examining everything from the legacy of science poetry in Canada and the works of poets Christian Bök and Michael Prior, to Johnstone’s own editorial work to promote and mentor Canadian poets. This is one of two books out this fall from Johnstone; the other is the poetry collection The King of Terrors (Coach House Books, September). –CD

Off the Record: Interviews with Writers on Writing
John Metcalf, ed.
Biblioasis, November

Curated by noted editor and critic John Metcalf, this collection of essays and stories explores the routines and inspirations behind the work of writing. Contributors include Caroline Adderson, Kristyn Dunnion, Cynthia Flood, and Shaena Lambert. –CD

Coming up next in the fall preview:
August 2: Nonfiction

Correction, July 27: This post has been updated to reflect the fact that Ed Broadbent grew up in Oshawa, Ontario, not Ottawa.

By: Attila Berki; Cassandra Drudi; Andrew Woodrow-Butcher

July 26th, 2023

11:59 am

Category: Industry News, Preview

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