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Branches by Mark Truscott

Branches by Mark Truscott

Winner of the 2020 Nelson Ball Prize

Publication Date: September 21, 2018
64 pages
7.75 x 5.25 inches
ISBN 9781771664516

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Careful attention reveals that, even in moments that seem insignificant, our minds are constantly navigating disjunctions among registers of experience. Our intellect silently reminds our eyes that the car that appears to be moving between leaves is actually behind them and much larger. The sound of the vacuum cleaner in the next room is noise to be ignored. The phrase that arises in mind belongs to a conversation earlier in the day. Clear thinking demands that these navigations remain unconscious. But what if they’re meaningful, or productive, in themselves? What if they’re necessary to help us find a more meaningful place in the world? Branches explores these questions.

Watch the Book Launch and Reading:

Praise for Branches:

With their sonic precision and hyper-intelligence, the poems in Branches are wholly immersive. They slow the breath, loosen the mind, and dispel the self. Like Kay Ryan, Truscott has a knack for logical subversion, shifting perception seamlessly until one supposed certainty becomes another, and the foundation is not just shaken but obliterated. What we are left with is the expansiveness of pure potentiality.

Branches will change you, and for that, at the very least, it deserves your full attention.—Robin Richardson, author of Knife Throwing Through Self-Hypnosis and Sit How You Want

“Mark Truscott’s Branches is a unique and assured meditative work, at once ancient and wholly contemporary, a space where Stevens, Ashbery, and Basho might mingle and discover some as-yet unnoticed path. “There are smooth surfaces it seems one can only buy,” Truscott adroitly observes. Branches is full of lines ready to take root and reward, allowing perception all its richness but also changing and transforming it with a graceful and almost natural pressure. Reader, these poems are the furthest thing from those surfaces.” Jeff Latosik, author of Dreampad

Nelson Ball Prize Jury Citation:

“The opening lines of Branches—one line per page—are about a line (or is it a branch?). We inch along, searching for definition in the oscillating throw of metaphor: “a branch like a line like a branch”. The desire to know, that exilic quality of the mind, is an old drama, and in Branches, Truscott enacts the wanderings of the mind with a single intent, and finds in the poetic line a direction home, a way of going further in the direction of what is to be thought, the direction that goes in both directions simultaneously. This book gives moving testimony of the need for poetry. For this reason, and so many others that you must discover by reading the book, we have chosen Branches by Mark Truscott as the winner of the Nelson Ball Prize for this inaugural year.”

Press Coverage for Branches:

Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2018 Poetry Preview —49th Shelf

“[Truscott’s] poems rely on a deep and slow kind of attention, as well as allowing space for the perpetual surprise. There is something very quiet, and perpetually understated, about Truscott’s work.” —rob mclennan’s blog

“These minimalist yet deeply meditative poems focus on the commonplace: how bare branches frame the sky, the movement of clouds, how light reflects off wood. They amount to an interrogation of perception itself, and in particular, the connection between thinking and seeing.” —Barbara Carey, The Toronto Star

“Truscott’s lines bristle with thin, cold attention to their own details. Meditative, minimalist and not to be missed.” —Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press

“I want my poem to embody this poem-like feeling.”: An Interview with Mark Truscott —Open Book

KFB 2018 PICKS —Knife Fork Book

The 75 Best Book Covers of 2018 —LitHub

A ‘best of’ list of 2018 Canadian poetry books —rob mclennan, DUSIE


Mark Truscott is the author of two previous books of poetry: Said Like Reeds or Things (2004) and Nature (2010), which was shortlisted for the ReLit Award for Poetry. Poems from Branches have appeared in Event, The Walrus and on the Cultural Society website (culturalsociety.org). Truscott was born in Bloomington, Indiana, and grew up in Burlington, ON. He lives in Toronto.