Fall 2023 Poetry Preview: Vixen by Sandra Ridley | Book*hug Press

Fall 2023 Poetry Preview: Vixen by Sandra Ridley

Today’s Fall Poetry Preview features Vixen by Sandra Ridley!

Griffin Poetry Prize finalist Sandra Ridley offers a breathtaking, harrowing immersion in cruelty behind different veils: the medieval hunt, ecological collapse, and intimate partner violence.

Sparked by a haunting chance encounter with a fox, and told in six chapters of varying form, Vixen is as visceral as it is mysterious, sensuous as it is terrifying.

“Thicket” introduces us to stalking being akin to hunting; the similar threat of terror and—too often—a violent end. “Twitchcraft” locates the hunt in the home, the wild in the domestic, while “Season of the Haunt” explores the unrelenting nature of hunting. “Stricken” asks common questions that often implicitly justify such violence: Is the harassment ‘bad enough’ to allow us to label it criminal? Has all control been taken? Is the fear reasonable?

Vixen propels us to examine the nature of empathy, what it means to be a compassionate witness —and what happens when brutality is so ever-present that we become numb. This is a beautiful, difficult, wild tapestry of defiance and survival.

We’re happy to share an introduction from Sandra Ridley!

In addition, we’ve selected an excerpt from the collection to share with you today. Vixen will be released on October 24, 2023, and is available for pre-order from our online shop or from your local independent bookstore.


You tried to talk some sense into her.
You’re going to get even, lying-in-wait.
And soon, it will all be over—your honey, your nectar,
your honey-flower.

A little honey, wild clover, and nectar.
In a land flowing with clover and honey, you went to her nectar.
What is sweeter than honey. Worms after wild honey. Blood and clover in her fur.

A curse.


A land abundant.

What is sweeter than nectar in your mouth—
honey under your tongue.

She fed you honey and blossoms and balm. And you came for her.

Caught—her honey remains but not your scent.


A fearful sight and a great sign—a streak of red
and it’s frightening to fall by your hand.

You desire to make us few.


In the bleak,
she fled from the ferocity and wrath upon her.


As you take your fill, fill a well spring with blood, as you fill the land,
the house fills with violence.

You take her fur, a curse,
an oath.

Sandra Ridley is the author of four books of poetry: FalloutPost-ApothecaryThe Counting House; and Silvija, a finalist for the 2017 Griffin Poetry Prize. She has won the bpNichol Chapbook Award, Saskatchewan Book Award for Publishing, the Alfred G. Bailey Prize, and the Toronto International Festival of Authors’ Battle of the Bards. Additionally, she has been a finalist for the Banff Centre Bliss Carman Poetry Award, the Ottawa Book Award, the Archibald Lampman Award, the ReLit Award for Poetry, and the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. She has also been nominated for the Ontario Arts Council’s KM Hunter Artist Award for Mid-Career Writer and for the Ottawa Arts Council’s Mid-Career Artist Award. Ridley has taught poetry at Sage Hill Writing, Carleton University, and has had the honour of being a mentor with Ottawa’s Supportive Housing and Mental Health Services “Footprints to Recovery” program for people living with mental illness. An audio performance of her chapbook “Lift” was presented on CBC’s Sound Exchange. Her work has been anthologized and translated into German and French. Sandra grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan and lives in Ottawa.

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