Books·Spring Book Preview

20 works of Canadian poetry to check out in spring 2019

Check out these titles from Canadian poets coming out in the first half of the year.

A new year means new books! Here's a list of the 20 works from Canadian poets to check out in 2019.

How She Read by Chantal Gibson

Chantal Gibson is the author of How She Read. (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 from a cultural perspective. 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.

When you can read it: Jan. 29, 2019

The Caiplie Caves by Karen Solie

The Caiplie Caves is a poetry collection by Karen Solie. (David Seymour, House of Anansi)

The Caiplie Caves is the fifth book of poetry from award-winning poet Karen Solie. It is a portrait of sorts of an Irish missionary named Ethernan, who, in the seventh century, withdrew to a cave in Scotland to ponder whether to establish a priory on May Island or pursue a hermit's solitude. Solie adopts an intersectional look at the realities of war, religious colonization and ideas of progress, power and corruption via a personal and emotional lens of faith, grief and confusion under duress.

When you can read it: April 9, 2019

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. 

When you can read it: Feb. 26, 2019

Tonguebreaker by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a poet, activist and performer. (Arsenal Pulp Press/Naomi Ishisaka)

Lambda Literary Award-winning poet and writer Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha's latest poetry collection continues her poetic throughline of presenting perspectives and observations of working-class queer brown femme survivorhood and desire. Through Tonguebreaker, the Canadian-raised and U.S.-based poet reflects on the stakes surrounding survival in the context of the nature of love, the spectre of hate crimes, the suicides of queer kin and the rise of fascism. The collection sets forth narratives of disabled femme-of-colour moments, while dreaming of fearless femme futures to come.

When you can read it: March 1, 2019

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.

When you can read it: March 10, 2019

Disintegrate/Dissociate by Arielle Twist

Disintegrate/Dissociate is a poetry collection by Arielle Twist. (Arsenal Pulp Press,

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. 

When you can read it: March 15, 2019

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.

When you can read it: March 19, 2019

TREATY# by Armand Garnet Ruffo

Armand Garnet Ruffo is a Canadian scholar, filmmaker, writer and poet with Ojibway ancestry. (Wolsak & Wynn)

Armand Garnet Ruffo's TREATY# is an examination of the nature and meaning of a treaty. Ruffo documents his observations of life from an Indigenous perspective, looking at belief systems and the complex, evolving connections and obligations between nation-to-nation, human-to-human and human-to-nature.

When you can read it: March 19, 2019

Cluster by Souvankham Thammavongsa

Souvankham Thammavongsa is an award-winning poet based in Toronto. (Jennifer Rowsom, McClelland & Stewart)

Toronto-based poet Souvankham Thammavongsa is of Thai heritage and with her fourth poetry collection examines the nature of meaning. Every poem in Cluster looks at the ways in which meaning arrives, resonates and dissipates.

When you can read it: March 26, 2019

Drolleries by Cassidy McFadzean

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

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.

When you can read it: March 26, 2019

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.

When you can read it: Mar. 26, 2019

Magnetic Equator by Kaie Kellough

Kaie Kellough is a Montreal writer, performer and 'general word-sound systemizer.' (Kaie Kellough, McClelland & Stewart)

Montreal-based artist and poet Kaie Kellough plays with geography and self-determination in Magnetic Equator, his third poetry collection. Drifting between South and North America, Kellough digs into the ancestral belonging, exploring The Canadian Prairie, Georgetown, the Amazon rainforest and in the Atlantic Ocean. It looks at the nature of language and dialect in the works of Caribbean and Canadian writers, seeking origin, identity and understanding.

When you can read it: March 26, 2019

Q & A by Adrienne Gruber

Adrienne Gruber is a Vancouver-based poet. (Book*hug/Adrienne Gruber)

Adrienne Gruber's Q & A represents her third full poetry collection. The collection looks at trauma and recovery during a first pregnancy, birth of a daughter and early postpartum period. The poems cover the transformative, the grotesque and the lasting effects of bringing life into the world.

When you can read it: April 1, 2019

The Elements by Erín Moure

Erín Moure is a poet and translator from Calgary. (House of Anansi Press, Erín Moure)

Erín Moure is a poet and translator. The poems in The Elements is a personal examination on family built on her experience with her late father's dementia. It looks at the nature of self in an ambivalent world, drawing parallels between the struggle of Galician peasants against the invasion of the armies of Napoleon with her father's struggle with an invasive mental illness.

When you can read it: April 9, 2019

Twitch Force by Michael Redhill

Michael Redhill is an author and poet from Toronto. (House of Anansi Press, Canadian Press)

Michael Redhill — who won the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel Bellevue Square — returns to his roots as a poet. Twitch Force marks his first collection of poetry in 18 years and brings together poems grounded in the satirical and profound. Redhill looks at topics such as the family construct, the nature of beauty, love, loss and despair.

When you can read it: April 9, 2019

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.

When you can read it: April 9, 2019

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.

When you can read it: April 10, 2019

It's a Big Deal! by Dina Del Bucchia

Dina Del Bucchia is a B.C.-based poet. (Talonbooks/Erin Flegg)

Dina Del Bucchia is an author, comedian and poet based in Vancouver. It's a Big Deal! is a humourous and honest look at personal and societies priorities, mining trends in food, clothes, culture and politics. The poetry in the collection is pointed, sincere and candid with the aim of gauging what constitutes or necessitates a 'big deal' in our 21st-century lives.

When you can read it: Apr. 15, 2019

Hope Matters by Lee MaracleColumpa Bobb and Tania Carter

Hope Matters is a collaborative effort from author Lee Maracle and daughters Columpa Bobb and Tania Carter. (Book*hug)

This collection of poetry from award-winning author Lee Maracle and her daughters Columpa Bobb and Tania Carter is a look at the journey of Indigenous people from colonial beginnings to reconciliation. The collaborative effort documents the personal mother-daughter connection and also the shared song of hope and reconciliation from all Indigenous communities and perspectives.

When you can read it: April 15, 2019

breth by bill bissett

bill bissett is a Canadian poet known for his unconventional style. (Talonbooks)

The incomparable bill bissett returns with breth, a collection of new and selected works for poetry by the innovative and accomplished Toronto-based sound, visual and performance poet. breth continues bisset's unorthodox methods and approach to language and narrative. 

When you can read it: April 25, 2019


  • An earlier version of this story said that The Caiplie Caves by Karen Solie would be available on Feb. 12, 2019. The correct publication date is April 9, 2019.
    Feb 06, 2019 12:51 PM ET