THOU by Aisha Sasha John

THOU by Aisha Sasha John

Publication Date: April 15, 2014
176 pages
6 x 8 inches
ISBN 9781771660334

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Finalist for the 2015 Trillium Book Award for Poetry

Finalist for the 2015 ReLit Poetry Award

Following the successful reception of her first book, The Shining Material, comes Aisha Sasha John’s THOU—a powerful collection of two long, narrative poems, that explore the social space that exists between the self and others. Using the language that connects these two states of being, THOU investigates the idea of “you”—what it is and what it means to say “you,” the stories we make of our own multiple “yous,” and by extension, the “you” an author can make of her own book. Building on the emotionally charged language of John’s previous work, THOU will tantalize readers’ senses, and will provoke comparisons to such acclaimed poets as Anne Carson (especially Glass, Irony and God) and Alice Notley.

In THOU, Aisha Sasha John knows the day—biblically. What if time itself was an object of desire? And the book was a theatre for that? Aisha Sasha John has a crush on time. Which is why she discipled in it. For three years. Also for three months. Also for three months at 33. Ya. Aisha Sasha John has a crush on time and discipled in time, moving it across her body, watching it, um, course the day. She slowed it down and thought along it, she cut it up. She slowed it down and thunk along it and sped it up. She cut it up and spaced it out and rhythmed it down and laid it flat and looked at it hard. Aisha Sasha John has a crush on time. She did it. She did time. It was gross and funny and it was hard and it was good. The result is/was—THOU.

Trillium Book Award‬ for Poetry Finalist Aisha Sasha John describes her inspiration for writing THOU in this video from the Ontario Media Development Corporation:

Watch the Book Launch and Reading:

Praise for Aisha Sasha John:

“Miss John here reminds, in oddly comely poems of direct address, ‘how small the aesthetic is’ and how ravenously transcendent the human woman. The mouths of these poems adore phonemes and are unafraid of their important difference: they say the woman as the linguist of thinking. They refuse to assuage or to mollify or to rectify. They smack of an emergent candour. To serve their biopolitic, they may have invented an extra vowel, the first since Hittite.”  — Lisa Robertson

Praise for THOU:

“Aisha Sasha John’s THOU re-plays that archaic pronoun as a constantly present movement and rhythm of attention: the suddenness of the interpolative ‘moment.’ These lines of poetry ‘shake… a little’ as the ‘I’ narrates and choreographs a monologue of the self in motion; each page is the dance floor and John’s words break through the ‘I-as-you’ with both the foreignicity of anticipation and the reflection of grace.” — Fred Wah

“THOU is physical, fearless in its vulnerabilities, a sensing amid thought’s most succulent folds. THOU is a choreography of irresolute bodies, the insistent shifting of their positions. Aisha Sasha John is a poet of centrifugal energy, of reverberant intimacy.” — Michael Nardone

“An act of deep attention to the physical self, to the positioning of bodies in the world, Aisha Sasha John’s THOU takes us on a journey through power and society, hatred and love, anger and healing, offering an intimate, clear-eyed look at our shared humanity. Original, funny, sensuous; at once profound and unpretentious, John’s lines are a pleasure and a revelation.” — Jury comment, Trillium Book Award for Poetry


“John is brilliant at communicating. She’s also really funny. Poems don’t get more direct and precise and unforgettable than this.” — National Post

“A truly beautiful book and a rare gift” — Broken Pencil

“The book unfolds along a highly personal, highly developed line of reasoning: not of the classroom, but of life. It bristles with an intelligence sharpened on the realisation that feeling is a way of thinking … The effect, of looseness carrying and building tropes in a way that explicates and satisfies, while maintaining an air of mystery, makes THOU a model of poetic construction.” — Urchin Movement

“To read this book is to experience the poem happening to you—and to want in.” — Gillian Jerome for 49th Shelf

“A book of meditative chant, sing-song patter and performance lyric, THOU is a collection of poetry shaped around a pronoun, inquiring, shaking and prodding and shattering.” — rob mclennan

Read the poem “To make a work is to sit with your irrelevance,” which was published in April 2014 in The Globe Mail here.


On Writing with Aisha Sasha John in Open Book Toronto

Aisha Sasha John is a dance improviser and poet. She was born in Montreal, but spent most of her childhood in Vancouver, and currently lives in Toronto. John has a BA in African Studies and Semiotics from the University of Toronto and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph. Her first book, The Shining Material, was published by BookThug in 2011. Follow John at

Additional information

Weight .15 kg
Dimensions 6 × .5 × 8 in