Holiday Lit List — Poetry! Poetry!! Poetry!!!


Wherein we look at some of the local books that have been published this year and give you some ideas of what to get your book-loving friends and family for Hanukkah, Solstice, Festivus, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or just because it’s a day ending with “y”.
Don’t forget to support your local independent bookstores!

Vancouver has an abundance of riches when it comes to the poetry scene, and this year saw a incredible amount of books being published. We’ve already suggested Catherine Owen’s Trobairitzand earlier this year we reviewed Impact: The Titanic Poems, Billeh Nickerson’s wonderful collection of glimpses into the life and death of the legendary ocean liner, and talked about YVR by W.H. New being chosen for the City of Vancouver Book Award.

Below is just a selection of other books by local poets that were released this year.


The gorgeous cover of Daniela Elza’s the weight of dew (Mother Tongue Publishing), featuring a photograph by Robin Susanto, gives an indication of what you’ll find between the covers. These poems are not only a treat for their language and the imagery they invoke, but also for their actual visual aspect. The emphasis on the space between words forces the reader to pause and savour what is presented, rolling the language around in mouth and mind. The words fall and sit with the lightness of dew, landing on the consciousness as a dragonfly might, but lingering much longer.

Elizabeth Bachinsky, whose God of Missed Connections was one of three works adapted for the Electric Company’s Initiation Trilogy at this year’s Writers Fest, takes a bit of a risk with her latest book I Don’t Feel So Good (BookThug). Rolling a die and using her journals and hand-written notes from the past 25 years as source material, she has created a collection of new “found” poems. Despite allowing the die to determine which words to choose and the order in which they are played, there is a great deal of cohesion in the randomness of it all. We may believe that our attitudes and ways of thinking change as we age, but by revisiting the thoughts and impressions of our younger selves we see that given enough time, everything is cyclical.

All proceeds of the print run of I Don’t Feel So Good go to the Christopher Reimer Legacy Fund Society.

It’s hard to believe that Davie Street Translations (Talonbooks) is Daniel Zomparelli’s first book, but then being Editor-in-Chief of the excellent literary magazine Poetry is Deadcontributing to various magazines around the city, and teaching writing classes tend to keep him pretty busy. And then there’s all the “research” he needed to do as source material for the poems in this collection, an in-depth and inside look at and reflection on our city’s gay male culture. His is the voice of the young and the old, the accepted and the marginalized, the cynical and the optimistic. If you’re an insider, his poems will make you nod in recognition; if you view his world from the outside you may be surprised at the familiarity of it all.

In Allegheny, BC  (Nightwood Editions), singer-songwriter Rodney DeCroo takes us to a completely different place from that of Zomparelli’s work. The poems expand on the lyrics of his most recent album, Allegheny, and detail his upbringing in the coal-mining town along the banks of the Alleghany River in Pennsylvania, the bush of Northern BC, and his life as a young adult in Vancouver. Fierce and unsettling, they depict a childhood of violence and abuse, but rather than succumb to despair and hopelessness, DeCroo searches for meaning in his past, trying to discover how it all came together to create the person he is today. The oily blackness of the river he swam in as a child works its way through his life, colouring his experiences, and in Allegheny, BC he wades through it to find meaning in the secrets it has buried.

Click to read our previous Holiday Lit List suggestions.