Wayside Sang concerns entwined migrations of Black-other diaspora coming to terms with fossil-fuel psyches in times of trauma and movement. This is a poetic account of economy travel on North American roadways, across Peace and Ambassador bridges and through the Fleetway tunnel, above and beneath Great Lake rivers between nation states. Nicholson reimagines the trajectories of her birth father and his labour as it criss-crossed these borders in a study that engages the automobile object, it's industry, roadways and hospitality, through and beyond the Great Lakes region.
Engaging a range of discursive fields to form the metrics of this project, she is interested in the intersection of various artistic practices and how being in relation to them can lend dimension to page and text-based efforts. Consider Charles Campbell's Transporter project, begun initially as a visual investigation of the phenomenon of forced migration, or Camille Turner's various "sonic walks" which present narratives that explore the complexities of Black life in Canada amid a "landscape of forgetting" Black history and Khari McClelland's embrace of music as a "transportation device" uncovering the experiences of fugitive Blacks crossing into Canada. (From Talonbooks)
Wayside Sang won the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry.
From the Governor General's Literary Awards jury: "In this hypnotic suite of long poems, Cecily Nicholson makes room, offering glimpses and echoes of the Canadian landscape as she explores ideas of borders, identity, industry and travel. She offers a catalogue of impressions, a collage of the ephemeral, held together by image and the pulsing phrase that stays with you long after the journey's over."
From the book
a waiting trench the front across the dash
deep open road through the window
on the glass
bokeh crystals of settlement
streaming past mirror side appears larger
after all the lakes hold ashes and fur
long route tapers to a blue-strip august
the walk along here I was a daughter then
along a highway
on the route she shines on
leaning into the path as nettle heavy with rain
From Wayside Sang by Cecily Nicholson ©2017. Published by Talonbooks.