Books·Poetry Month

Souvankham Thammavongsa on the 'great great courage' of Kayla Czaga's debut poetry collection

The poet and Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author talks about why she loved reading the 2014 poetry book For Your Safety Please Hold On by Kayla Czaga.
Souvankham Thammavongsa recommends reading For Your Safety Please Hold On by Kayla Czaga. (Nightwood Editions, Jennifer Rowsom)

April is National Poetry Month! To celebrate, CBC Books recently reached out to Canadian poets and asked them which Canadian poetry book has been meaningful to them. 

Souvankham Thammavongsa is an award-winning author and poet whose debut short story collection, How to Pronounce Knife, won the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Her poetry collections include the Trillium Book Award winner Light, the ReLit Award winner Small Arguments and 2019's Cluster, a wide-ranging collection of ruminations on nature, family and politics written in Thammavongsa's celebrated minimalist style. Cluster was a 2020 finalist for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award

A Canadian poetry book that is meaningful to Thammavongsa is Kayla Czaga's debut poetry collection For Your Safety Please Hold On, published in 2014. Czaga is a Canadian poet who was on the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for Drunk River.

"I really love Kayla Czaga's For Your Safety Please Hold On. So tender and real and so much life and pain and love and just great great courage. I admire how she can use a single word and give it a force and change its matter every time the word is repeated and turned out in a poem (see Poem for Jeff).

So tender and real and so much life and pain and love and just great great courage.

"What I love most is how there's room not to know and love the idea of poetry — to let poetry fail you and to live in its failure anyway. Her lines 'I don't get poetry either. I mostly get cavities...' are so fun to read and to say out loud — and to open with that line is so wonderfully bold."

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