Books·Poetry Month

11 collections from up-and-coming Canadian poets to read

Here are 11 Canadian poetry collections to check out for National Poetry Month.

April is National Poetry Month! To celebrate, here are 11 poetry collections from emerging Canadian writers you should check out.

Hymnswitch by Ali Blythe

Ali Blythe is a Victoria-based poet. (Nina LaFlamme, Gooselane)

Blythe's 2015 poetry debut, Twoism, offered stark, vibrant eroticism; Hymnswitch builds on that foundation to explore themes of identity and the body. Blythe brings a mastery of precision and cadence to bear in creating poems that pulse with emotion, complexity and vulnerability.

Dunk Tank by Kayla Czaga

Kayla Czaga is a poet from Vancouver. (House of Anansi Press)

Kayla Czaga's sophomore collection of poetry weighs in on knowledge, experience and the fears associated with being an adult. Dunk Tank is a creative imagining of the body as an strange and unknowable landscape, breaking down the anatomical components in a blur of metaphor, imagery and dark humour to make connections between sex, love, friendship and belonging. Czaga was longlisted for the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize for Drunk River.

How She Read by Chantal Gibson

Based in Vancouver, Chantal Gibson is an artist, educator and poet. (Caitlin Press, Chantal Gibson)

Artist, poet and educator Chantal Gibson's How She Read is a collection of genre-blurring poems about the representation of black women in Canada. The Vancouver-based Gibson has East Coast roots and she brings a holistic, decolonized approach to challenging imperialist ideas by way of a close look at Canadian literature, history, art, media and pop culture.

Heft by Doyali Islam

This is the second poetry collection by Toronto-based poet Doyali Islam. (Arden Wray/Penguin Random House Canada)

Doyali Islam is an award-winning poet and author based in Toronto. Heft is her second collection of poems and is a conceptual look at rupture and resilience in today's world. The poems look at the nature of illness, pain and sexuality. Heft casts its lens on normal female sexual experience and the notion of home in light of chronic pain and suspected autoimmune illness on a personal level.

Mad Long Emotion by Ben Ladouceur

Ben Ladouceur is an Ottawa-raised author and poet. (Coach House Books)

Mad Long Emotion is the latest poetry collection from Ottawa-based poet Ben Ladouceur. The poems look at the nature of love and loving for humans, flora and fauna alike. Mad Long Emotion creatively gazes at the interplay between species and the host of universal connections within the natural world. Ladouceur's previous poetry collection, Otter, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award.

All Day I Dream About Sirens by Domenica Martinello

All Day I Dream About Sirens is Domenica Martinello's first poetry collection. (Coach House Books, domenicamartinello.com)

Domenica Martinello's obsession with sirens began with the Starbucks logo. It then grew into a curiosity about how sirens and mermaids have been conceived and fetishized by artists and consumers throughout history. All Day I Dream About Sirens is the Montreal poet's debut book.

Drolleries by Cassidy McFadzean

Cassidy McFadzean is an award-winning poet from Regina. (Penguin Random House Canada/Sarah Bodri)

Regina-raised Cassidy McFadzean is a past finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize and The Walrus Poetry Prize. Her latest collection peers into the duality between human and beast. Drolleries is a manifesto for self-realization by way of investigating the nature of romantic relationships, the allure of art and the structures of power — from fallible and transformative angles.

Chenille or Silk by Emma McKenna

Chenille or Silk is a poetry collection by Emma McKenna. (Caitlin Press)

Chenille or Silk is Hamilton musician Emma McKenna's debut book of poetry. A "confessional collection," Chenille or Silk is about navigating inherited trauma and an "ever-shifting economy of desire" to love, self-acceptance and belonging.

War / Torn by Hasan Namir

Hasan Namir is an award-winning poet. (Book*hug Press, Bijan Dharas)

Iraq-born and Vancouver-based Hasan Namir is an award-winning poet. His debut collection of poetry, War / Torn, looks at parameters of religion and masculinity — weighing in on the nature of identity, belonging and love. Namir examines his experience with war and violence, along with his LGTBQ identity and his relationship with tenets of Islam.

Disintegrate/Dissociate by Arielle Twist 

Arielle Twist is a Halifax author, poet and sex educator originally from George Gordon First Nation, Saskatchewan. (Arsenal Pulp Press, arielletwist.com)

Arielle Twist is a Cree, Two-Spirit poet and educator based in the East Coast. Twist's debut poetry collection offers perspectives of human connections after death — looking at anger, grief, trauma and displacement left in its wake. Disintegrate/Dissociate depicts life for an Indigenous trans woman, one dreaming for a hopeful future and a clear path for self-discovery.

These are not the potatoes of my youth by Matthew Walsh

Matt Walsh is a poet from Nova Scotia. (Goose Lane Editions)

The debut poetry collection from Nova Scotia-raised poet Matt Walsh is a look at growing up on the East Coast and heading west on a nomadic journey. Speckled with Maritime vernacular, Walsh's poems delve into the nature of queer identity, family structure and self-determination using elements of humour, surprise and frankness. 

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