National Poetry Month: Poetry as Awareness | Book*hug Press

National Poetry Month: Poetry as Awareness

Kate Cayley on a banner that reads National Poetry Month

How can poetry set you free?

Author Kate Cayley answers our National Poetry Month series question with a query of her own: can poetry’s request for our acute attention be a pathway to a world unseen? Read what she has to say:

“I’m not sure how to answer the question of how, or whether, poetry sets me free.

If anything, poetry is partly constraint: a precise and focused looking, an attention to what is at hand, narrowing in – related to the work of making art, or the work of raising children, who demand generous and sincere attention to what is minute and particular to them, what they think is important, which might be something very small that I have failed to observe.

Poetry feels like the world pressing on my attention, removing it from the irresistible bog of myself, and outward. It helps me, through this pressure, to forget myself, to move outside my ordinary scope. Which I guess is an adequate working definition of freedom.”

– Kate Cayley

This month saw the release of Lent, Kate Cayley’s newest collection of poetry published with Book*hug Press. Find it on our online shop or in your local independent bookstore.

Kate Cayley is the author of two previous poetry collections, a young adult novel, and two short story collections, including How You Were Born, winner of the Trillium Book Award and shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. A tenth anniversary edition of How You Were Born is forthcoming from Book*hug Press in 2024. She has also written several plays, both traditional and experimental, which have been performed in Canada, the US, and the UK. She is a frequent writing collaborator with the immersive company Zuppa Theatre. Cayley has won the O. Henry Short Story Prize, the PRISM International Short Fiction Prize, the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction, and a Chalmers Fellowship. She has been a finalist for the K. M. Hunter Award, the Carter V. Cooper Short Story Prize, and the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award, and longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize, and the CBC Literary Prizes in both poetry and fiction. In 2021, she won the Mitchell Prize for Faith and Poetry for the title poem in Lent. She has been writer in residence at McMaster University and the Toronto Public Library, and mentored emerging writers through the University of Guelph Creative Writing MFA, the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, Diaspora Dialogues, and Sisters Writes. Cayley lives in Toronto with her wife and their three children

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