Our National Poetry Month Celebration continues with Sandra Ridley.
Ridley’s most recent poetry collection, Silvija, combines narrative lyric and experimental verse styles in a sequence of five feverish elegies, manifesting dark themes related to love and loss: the traumas of psychological suffering (isolation and confinement), physical abuse (by parent and partner), terminal illness (brain tumour and heart attack), revelation, resolution, and healing. Pulsing with the award-winning writer’s signature blend of fervour and sangfroid, the serial poems in Silvija accrue into a book-length testament to a grief both personal and human, leaving readers with the redemptive grace that comes from poetry’s ability to wrestle chaos into meaning.
rob mclennan writes that “[w]hile the effect of Ridley’s short phrases staccato and accumulate into a complex tapestry that refuses anything straightforward, the emotional content is raw, savage and brutally stark.” In a review for The Puritan, Robert Anderson writes that “[t]he book… situates Ridley as one of the preeminent Canadian poets of her generation.” Silvija was a finalist for both the 2017 Griffin Poetry Prize for Excellence and the 2017 Archibald Lampman Award.
Ridley reads an excerpt from “Clasp”—itself excerpted from Silvija—in the following audio clip:
Excerpt from “Clasp”
Sleep is for the weak.
I collected the reasons against it, which were in every body’s mouth.
I marked them down, with, I think, some additions. (You may or may not
I feign now pleasure—sleep in splendour—notwithstanding
the sadness of the subject.
(Please read the letter.)
A fool could read the signs.
The point then, settled. I can’t keep it in, can’t do it anymore. What then,
you will say—I can’t. Perhaps—I can’t be alone, I can’t be with you, can’t
stop. And for my own part, I have no fear of it.
I can’t explain—others perhaps might. And yet, I can’t forget, especially
when there is nothing to be lost by it. I assure you, I can’t help myself. I
Multiple-award-winning poet, instructor, and editor Sandra Ridley is the author of three books of poetry: Fallout (winner of a 2010 Saskatchewan Book Award and the Alfred G. Bailey Prize); Post-Apothecary (finalist for the ReLit and Archibald Lampman Awards); and The Counting House (published by Book*hug in 2013; finalist for the Archibald Lampman Award and chosen as one of the top five poetry books of 2013 in Quill & Quire’s Readers’ Poll). In 2015, Ridley was a finalist for the K M Hunter Artist Award for Literature. She lives in Ottawa.