Here at Book*hug, we like hugs—it’s in our name—and we look forward to the day we can give them again. But we like poetry too, which offers its own brand of intimacy, and which, unlike hugs, can aim its arrows at ideas. At the ambiguous and the metaphysical.
The following poetry collections have proper nouns of affection: people, places, and things. They’re in love with the world—its soft underbellies, its creamy middles—as only poetry can be in love. Don’t be afraid to fall in love with them too.
As a reminder, all Book*hug Press titles are 25% off until December 23rd, and as a bonus, we’re offering free shipping within Canada on orders over $50.00. If you feel especially spoiled for choice—and/or if you’re in a giving mood—we have more good news: we’re also offering a selection of holiday bundles. Whatever and however you celebrate, we recommend shopping early to ensure your books arrive on time (and so you have something to look forward to on Monday, that cruel arbiter of happiness). Happy holidays!
Lost Originals by David B. Goldstein
David B. Goldstein’s Lost Originals is a collection of elegies for a series of objects, images, and experiences, whose ghostly traces can only be evoked through language. The book’s encounters with a menagerie of items—from porcelain figurines, maps, and soundscapes, to computer-generated email spam and journalism about sharks—yield a myriad of voices, giving metaphorical speech to the unspeaking or unspoken. At the same time, these encounters uncover a surprising beauty in language normally viewed as impenetrable or utilitarian. “David B. Goldstein’s Lost Originals thrusts me back to this ambivalent relationship with the objects that surround us, that exist without breathing yet still fog up the mirror,” writes author Julia Cohen. “This collection animates artifacts into language, dissolving the boundary between invitation and threat: ‘soon you too will be opened / by the unmouthed key of my voice.’”
Enter the Raccoon by Beatriz Hausner
Beatriz Hausner’s Enter the Raccoon documents a love affair between a woman and a raccoon. They are a couple that loves without preconceptions; their story unfolds each time one surrenders to the other in a sometimes melancholic and cruel, other times joyful, even ecstatic embrace. Their being together eschews all limits, until their beliefs in the self are put to the test. “Not since Marian Engel’s Bear has the thirst for CanLit bestiality been so righteously quenched,” writes Chris Urquhart for This Magazine. “Enter the Raccoon brings the reader into a wild world of otherworldly love with arms—and mechanical paws—wide open.” Professor, poet, and editor Gregory Betts writes that the book “arrives at poetry and dives through that soft mirror to reveal the ancient machine working the illusion in the kingdom of happiness. This is the machine that knows you, and whispers things to you about your magic body that you can only imagine.”
Nought by Julie Joosten
Nought explores the intersections of body, identity, and love, inhabiting the unfastened “and” of capacious loves and allegiances and refusing to choose between them. In Nought, thought comes alive through the materiality of body and experience—skin, eyes, mouths. Throughout the book, Julie Joosten grapples with form and rhythm, crafting work that is intimately perceptive and that pulses and teems with life.
“This tenderly porous poetry is a philosophical excursion into ancient and still-vast questions: how are dogs, grasses, crickets, anemones always becoming thought?” writes acclaimed author Lisa Robertson. “Joosten composes a phenomenology of care, brings me to the sill of an attentive stillness where I am free to not be myself. It’s a little frightening and a little exhilarating. But in these poems I am welcomed and supported by the shared minutiae of perceiving.”
Vancouver for Beginners by Alex Leslie
Vancouver for Beginners is a ghost story, an elegy, and a love song for a city that is both indecipherable and a microcosm of a world on fire. In this collection, the nostalgia of place is dissected through the mapping of a city where readers are led past surrealist development proposals, post-apocalyptic postcards, childhood landmarks long-gone, and a developer who paces at the city’s edge, shoring it up with aquariums. Vancouver’s forests are subsumed by parks, its buildings sink and morph, and the ocean glints, elusive, in the background. Memory traps and tourist traps reveal themselves.
Ayelet Tsabari, author of The Art of Leaving, calls Vancouver for Beginners “ingenious, mesmerizing and gorgeously written.” And author Jordan Scott writes that “Alex Leslie beautifully contributes to the long poetic tradition documenting, interrogating, and re-imagining the city of Vancouver. This is a new guidebook that refuses utopia and the erasure of traumatic history. It’s a book for after the pipelines and before the collapse but there’s still a poet here, in this place, writing the invisible and trusting us to read.” Vancouver for Beginners recently won the 2020 Lohn Foundation Prize for Poetry at the Western Canada Jewish Book Awards.
Branches by Mark Truscott
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? Mark Truscott’s Branches explores these questions.
“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,” writes Jeff Latosik, author of Dreampad. The Toronto Star writes, “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.” Branches was recently shortlisted for the 2020 Nelson Ball Prize.