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Trailer for “Colour Theory”

colour theory coverWe’re very excited to announce our second book trailer for 2016!

A letter of apology to Vincent Van Gogh, a flat-footed dialogue with Bernini’s Pope Gregory, a searing glimpse into a young dissident’s life between the Wars — Colour Theory catapults readers back in time to unpack the human condition through vivid imagery and gripping narratives. It investigates how the mind deconstructs and regenerates events. The poems speak to each other and contribute to a steady momentum that’s both elegant and elastic. Collectively, they paint a visceral and highly emotive picture of the universal desire to find meaning, compassion and belonging where even the most ordinary details shimmer with new light and lyrical intensity.

Toronto writer Megan Mueller worked as a senior editor at Harcourt, Oxford University Press and Canadian Scholars’ Press for nearly two decades. She has contributed to numerous Canadian arts and literary journals including Geist, The Antigonish Review and The Dalhousie Review. Colour Theory is her first volume of poetry.

Click here to see the book trailer for Megan Mueller’s wonderful collection of poetry!

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Michael Dennis Reviews Rosemary Clewes’ “Paper Wings”

paper wingsMichael Dennis recently wrote an article for his “Today’s Book of Poetry” blog which focuses on Guernica poet Rosemary Clewes’ collection Paper Wings. Dennis praises Clewes’ ability to draw the reader in by referring to poems from the collection, such as “Shadows” and “Dawn Puddle on Lake Huron”. He states, “Clewes writes with a thorough clarity that has you instantly involved and invested in her narrative. These narratives travel, visit the arctic, fall in love, age graceful and curious”.

Clewes’ poems draw on her experiences as a kayaker, which also inspired two other books (Thule Explorer: Kayaking North of 77 Degrees and Once Houses Could Fly: Kayaking North of 79 Degrees). Dennis states that Clewes portrays the act of kayaking with careful poetic skill: “Clewes tells us ‘the geometry of light is incalculable” but that doesn’t stop her from showering her considerable light in calculated measures sure as a metronome. Today’s book of poetry was touched to my fragile heart by how Rosemary Clewes understood water from a kayak’s point of view. Kayaking is a relatively new experience for me but Clewes gives words to the most eloquent of my own imaginings in such a way that I am both jealous and grateful”.

Dennis concludes his review of Paper Wings by stating “Paper Wings is from Guernica Edition’s ‘Essential Poets’ series and Today’s book of poetry couldn’t agree more, every poetry collection should have some Clewes in it”. Dennis explains that Clewes poetry manages to remain wise and well-arranged in spite of the tenderness of its topics: “This is smart poetry by a witty and wise woman who sees the universe with optimism. There’s no sentimentalism in the Clewes canon but there sure is a lot of grace”.

Rosemary Clewes is a Toronto author who was nominated by The Malahat Review in 2005 for The National Magazine Awards, and was a finalist in the CBC Literary Awards in 2006. She has made seven trips to the Arctic, travelling by kayak, rift and icebreaker.

Paper Wings is a collection of poems in five parts, seen through the lens of history, geography, familial loss and celebration. Whether travelling by icebreaker, kayak or on foot, or weaving memory into new landscapes of the heart, these poems incline to the marvelous and metaphysical. Each asks in different ways the question: “Where is home?” The conclusion: Home is found within our selves and without, anywhere, anytime.

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Timothy Niedermann’s Review of “No Safeguards”

nosafeguardsTimothy Niedermann reviewed H. Nigel ThomasNo Safeguards in a recent article for The Ottawa Review of Books.

Niedermann begins by explaining that Thomas’ novel tells the story of two brothers, Paul and Jay, who have immigrated to Montreal. Although Paul and Jay are gay, Niedermann states that rather than focusing on their homosexuality, “’No Safeguards’ is about how these two brothers grow up, separately and together – who and what nurtures them, injures them, makes them what they now are”.

Niedermann states that Thomas tells the story of these two brothers with skillful characterization: “’No Safeguards’ is filled with wonderful scenes of island life, made alive by the use of colourful dialect and vivid characters – Grama, in particular, is a force of nature. A tangible sense of pathos is present in several other characters as well. Anna comes across as tragic yet human in her losing struggle against what life has thrown at her. And above all there is poignancy in the frustration and confusion of both boys as they grow up while trying to sort out their troubled and conflicted relationship with their parents and grandmother”.

By referring to Thomas’ own background, as a gay immigrant from St. Vincent, Niedermann considers how No Safeguards is shaped by Thomas’ own experiences. Niedermann states that the novel “has re-created the disjunction of every immigrant, especially the children, who must exchange the set of norms and expectations they developed in their homeland for another that is neither familiar nor explained”.

Niedermann concludes his review by returning to “the poignancy of [the brothers’] lives”, stating that by the end of the novel, “one comes away with an appreciation of the strength of these two boys, now men, who have experienced so much yet retained a commitment to each other that cannot be broken”.

No Safeguards is the first in a trilogy of novels focusing on Jay and his brother Paul from childhood to young adulthood. The book deals with the impact of fundamentalist Christianity on their family, the ways that this becomes even more poignant when they leave their grandmother’s home in St. Vincent to join their mother in Montreal, and the further oppression that the brothers encounter when it is revealed that they are gay.

Nigel Thomas was born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and has been living in Montreal since 1986. He has written three other novels, Spirits in the Dark, Behind the Face of Winter, and Return to Arcadia, along with three collections of short stories, How Loud Can the Village Cock Crow, Lives: Whole and Otherwise (translated into French as Des vies cassées), and When the Bottom Falls Out and Other Stories. He has also written a collection of poems, Moving through Darkness, and two scholarly texts.

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Open Book Toronto’s Profile of Majlinda Bashllari

love is a very long word coverOpen Book Toronto recently interviewed Majlinda Bashllari as part of their “Poets in Profile” series. The article for this interview begins with a description of Majlinda’s poetry collection entitled Love is a very long word, stating “the collection draws on both the lyrical nature of the Albanian poetry tradition as well as modern, innovative techniques, to explore the tension between love and freedom”.

Majlinda discusses her various sources of inspiration during the interview. When Majlinda is asked “Can you describe an experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a poet?” She replies, “Two separate things contributed to this: experiencing the beauty of Albanian weddings and facing the sorrow of leaving my country. During my childhood, I was in love with weddings. They were true spectacles — a combination of lyricism and drama. Ordinary men and women that I knew — family friends or cousins — instantly became transformed into great artists. A magic thing. I was dreaming of making up lyrics and rhymes, and becoming one of them. The second experience took place many years later. As cliché as it may sound, it was the sorrow of leaving my country and adjusting to a new life — a process which was very emotional and difficult for me”.

She also states that the first poem she remembers being affected by is “Andrra e jetës” — (The dream of life) by Ndre Mjeda”. She calls this poem “a very deep, philosophical poem from one of the Albanian National Awakening poets. A true masterpiece”. When asked which poem she wishes that she had written, she replies by stating “I wish I had written ‘A man in his life’ by Yehuda Amichai and ‘True love’ by Wislawa Szymborska”. Although Majlinda’s poems are inspired by the work of these poets, she also states that her most unlikely source of inspiration is the daily morning news on CBC radio.

Love is a very long word explores the parallel, ambiguous realms of freedom and love – much coveted yet unnatural states of the human mind. Combining the tradition of Balkan lyricism with narrative modernist techniques, these bold poems witness the cross-cultural world of their subjects – from wounds to hope, struggle to wry triumph.

Born in Albania, Majlinda Bashllari’s first poetry collection, Një udhë për në shtëpi (A road to home), was published in Tirana, Albania (Morava, 2007). Bashllari’s work has appeared in numerous Albanian art and literature magazines and in Albanian anthologies of essays and short stories. Love is a very long word is her first English-language collection of poems. She lives with her family in Toronto.

 

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Trailer for “Love is a very long word”

love is a very long word coverWe’re excited to present our first book trailer of 2016!

Love is a very long word explores the parallel, ambiguous realms of freedom and love – much coveted yet unnatural states of the human mind. Combining the tradition of Balkan lyricism with narrative modernist techniques, these bold poems witness the cross-cultural world of their subjects – from wounds to hope, struggle to wry triumph.

Born in Albania, Majlinda Bashllari’s first poetry collection, Një udhë për në shtëpi (A road to home), was published in Tirana, Albania (Morava, 2007). Bashllari’s work has appeared in numerous Albanian art and literature magazines and in Albanian anthologies of essays and short stories. Love is a very long word is her first English-language collection of poems. She lives with her family in Toronto.

Click here to watch the video trailer for Majlinda Bashllari’s poetry collection Love is a very long word!

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Profile of Poet Steve Meagher by Open Book Toronto

steve meagher photoAs part of the “Poets in Profile” series, Open Book Toronto recently interviewed Guernica author Steve Meagher, whose collection of poems Navy Blue will be released by Guernica Editions this spring.

The article begins by stating, “the poems in Steve Meagher’s Navy Blue (Guernica Editions) capture the late night colouring of its title – exhilarating, sharp, urban and smart. It’s an insightful debut that takes on everything from tabloid news to childhood heroes, tipping its hat to Ray Souster, Irving Layton and others”.

Steve is asked several questions about the experiences that contributed to him becoming a poet and about his sources of inspiration. When asked, “What is the first poem you remember being affected by?” Steve replies, “I’m not sure if this qualifies, but when I was around 14 or 15 years old I got really into hip-hop music. Artists like The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, All Natural, Nas and Talib Kweli were a big deal for me. It was the early 2000s, right before digital music really took off, and I was always making mixtapes to listen to at lunch and after school with my friends. Some of that music definitely opened me up to the power of verse. The way these emcees could stack words and images on top of each other to paint a picture or convey a message. It was a great discovery”.

Steve also describes how much of an influence other poets have had on his writing. He states that if he had to pick a poem that he wished he’d written, he would likely choose a poem by Roque Dalton or Roberto Bolaño. He explains, “There’s something about those two poets that draws me in. I think it’s the way they always seemed to write it in blood. Reading them, I walk away with the feeling that poetry isn’t just a creative exercise or form of expression. It’s a weapon to go to war with. Since I can only choose one, I’ll go with ‘Lupe’ by Roberto Bolaño. That’s one of my favourites of his”.

Currently, Steve has been reading Thomas Merton’s Collected Poems as well as Ian Williams’ Personals. He states, “[Williams’] poem ‘Rings’ is so damn good. I read it over Christmas and it’s been running through my head ever since”.

Steve Meagher grew up in Oakville, Ontario and now lives in Toronto. His poems have appeared in Carousel, The Nashwaak Review and Ottawa Arts Review. Navy Blue is his first book.

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Nancy Anne Miller on Exilic Writing

Nancy Anne MillerIn a recent article by Afshan Shafi for The Missing Slate’s Poet of the Month series, Shafi interviews Guernica poet Nancy Anne Miller, drawing on Miller’s relationship with her birthplace, Bermuda. Although Miller has lived in Connecticut and England, her poetry is heavily inspired by her time spent in Bermuda. She states: ““I am certain being surrounded by an ocean, on an island where one could never be more than half a mile from the sea, gave me this profuse and profound sense of the force and power of a cyclical movement”.

This “cyclical movement” that Miller identifies with her experience of Bermuda informs her approach towards writing. Shafi states that Miller’s “work uses that cyclical force and power to disrupt traditional assumptions about the linearity of the lyric poem, challenging the domination of ‘what Woolf would refer to as the masculine sentence’”. In the interview, Miller explains that her poems are motivated by an impulse to resist the uniformity of meaning that exists in much of today’s poetry. Instead, Miller’s use of metaphors “make the poem radiate out across the page, shimmer with many meanings”.

Speaking on her relationship with transnationalism, Miller identifies as one who writes from exile. She states: “as Peter Strirr said, every poet writes from exile. For myself, it took me a long time to acknowledge I was an immigrant. The experience of moving from Bermuda to Farmington CT looked quite seamless on the outside…only after I realized the profound difference of growing up on a British Colonial semitropical isle almost seven hundred miles out at sea, versus the Northeast in America, did I know who I was and what I had to write about”.

As such a poet, Miller has an attentive understanding of language – in particular the differences between English and Bermudian dialect. She states: “Bermudian dialect was my first language, the words I used to create my world with and I think that first naming remains very deep within my body. My saying loquat in an accent resides in me at a physical level that a recently acquired word such as apps never will. Again those first words opened the world to me, gave me entrance into it and an ownership of it. It is where I created my Eden, become a part of the landscape.”

Nancy Anne Miller is the author of Somersault. She is also a MacDowell Fellow whose work has been published in Edinburgh Review, Agenda, New Welsh Review, The Fiddlehead, The Moth, The Caribbean Writer, Poetry Salzburg Review and Journal of Postcolonial Writing. She makes her home in the town of Washington, Connecticut.

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All Lit Up on Pietro Corsi’s “Halifax: The Other Door to America”

halifaxA recent article for All Lit Up’s “Where in Canada” blog showcases Guernica author Pietro Corsi’s Halifax: The Other Door to America in relation to the historic Pier 21.

Halifax: The Other Door to America focuses on the “combination of immigrants, war brides, British children escaping the war, and refugees totaled nearly 1,500,000” who passed through Halifax’s Pier 21 between 1928 and 1971. By giving thorough and well-researched descriptions, Corsi weaves together a very human portrait of this historic entry point. As the blog states, “Corsi details the trials and joys of this journey for so many immigrants who named Canada their new home, as well as the ‘door’ they used to enter: that of Pier 21”.

Corsi’s book tells of “arriving immigrants [who] brought their most precious items from home: work tools, sewing machines, stoves, jewelry. One family even brought a dismantled fireplace from home, intended for rebuilding once settled in their new country”. One section of Corsi’s book describes how a young boy waiting in line managed to make a sandwich out of the seized breads and salamis!

All Lit Up’s “Where in Canada” blog concludes by mentioning the reopening of Pier 21, which “reopened its doors thanks to the efforts of the Pier 21 Society, a group that strove to raise public and political awareness about Canadian immigrant stories that began after their ships docked there”. The blog continues to explain, “the site is now home to a museum celebrating Canadian immigration from every route and coast”.

Pietro Corsi was born in the region of Molise, Italy in 1937. In the mid-50s he moved to Rome, where he worked as a translator while co-creating radio programs for RAI, the official Italian radio organization. He was visiting Canada in 1959, when he was offered a job by the Italian weekly newspaper ‘Il Cittadino Canadese’. During that time, he wrote his first work of fiction (La Giobba, or Winter in Montreal in English, published by Guernica Editions and winner of the G.B. Bressani Prize of 2002). After becoming involved with the Italian cruise industry, effectively pioneering service standards for Princess Cruises, Pietro decided to retire in 1992 and chose to focus on his writing career. His latest book, The light of the soul: Neruda, the white raven, the black cat was released by Guernica Editions in 2015.

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George Elliot Clarke Appointed Parliamentary Poet Laureate!

george elliot clarkeWe are thrilled to announce that George Elliot Clarke has been appointed Canada’s new parliamentary poet laureate! Congratulations, George!

George Elliot Clarke is the seventh person to hold the position and was appointed by Senate Speaker George Furey and the Speaker of the House of Commons, Geoff Regan. The parliamentary poet laureate is responsible for promoting the importance of poetry, literature, culture, and language in Canada. Regan has stated the following about George Elliot Clarke, “his talent as poet, playwright and literary critic is undeniable…he is an immensely versatile and engaging writer and will bring great honour to the position”.

George Elliot Clarke was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia. He has published numerous groundbreaking verse and dramatic poetry collections and anthologies, including Illicit Sonnets. He has won the Governor General Literary Award, the Portia White Prize, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award, and he is the E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto. His book Canticles will be released by Guernica Editions in the Fall of 2016.

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Another Review in The Ottawa Review of Books! Timothy Niedermann on Geza Tatrallyay’s “The Expo Affair”

the expo affairTimothy Niedermann states in his review of The Expo Affair that Geza Tatrallyay’s book is “a very personal and affecting window on the confusion and desperation of the Cold War era”.

Niedermann begins his review by giving the background of Tatrallyay’s memoir, stating “the Berlin Wall fell over 25 years ago and since then, the Cold War has sunk into memory, the anxieties of those times being gradually supplanted by new fears – 9/11, Islamic terrorism, climate change”.

Niedermann explains that Tatrallyay’s book is “a memoir of his involvement in a very minor, yet affecting event during this time: the attempted defection of two Czech women during the Expo ’70 world’s fair in Osaka, Japan”. While at the Ontario Pavilion at the Expo, Tatrallyay became involved “with a Czech girl, Sasha. It was clear that the KGB was watching, but who cared? That is, until Sasha’s friends and Zozana and Helena approached him, seeking asylum in Canada”. The Expo Affair describes the involvement of Canadian diplomats and other compatriots at the Ontario pavilion who tried to arrange safe passage for the girls to Canada. Regarding whether or not Sasha was a spy, Niedermann states, “instead of reaching clarity, everything became more and more murky”.

Niedermann concludes his review by stating, “the descriptions and dialogue [Tatrallyay] has set down create a convincing atmosphere. He does not embellish with extraneous history or analysis, but lets the story unfold naturally”.

Geza Tatrallyay was born in Budapest and escaped with his family in 1956. After graduating with his BA from Harvard University, Geza was selected as a Rhodes Scholar and graduated with his BA/MA from Oxford University. Geza has written several thrillers, memoirs, and a collection of poetry.

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