Medium by Johanna Skibsrud

Medium by Johanna Skibsrud

Publication Date: March 5, 2024
6 x 8 inches
160 pages
Trade Paperback
ISBN 9781771668736

Trade Paperback
(In stock)
(In stock)
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From award-winning writer Johanna Skibsrud, Medium shares the lives and perspectives of women who—in their roles as biological, physical, or spiritual mediums—have helped to shape the course of history.

Helen of Troy, Anne Boleyn, Shakuntala Devi, Hypatia of Alexandria, Marie Curie: Medium interprets the voices of women vilified over time, silenced by famous husbands, forced into sex work, or wrongly accused. Reckoning with the dominant historical narratives of each woman’s era, Skibsrud underscores the power of poetry to bring about new formulations for understanding the relationship between past and present, self and other.

These deeply resonant and performative poems use language as a bridge across experience, sensibility, and time. Each exploration begins with a brief vignette inspired by the “vidas” that once began manuscripts of the troubadours. Both vidas and poems provide lyrical reinterpretations of real and imagined elements in the lives of scholars, scientists, computer engineers, mystics, entrepreneurs, artists, nurses, and other leaders.

Praise for Medium

“The accumulation of voices in Skibsrud’s Medium serves to reclassify individuality, offering a choral refuge and a devotion to a larger field of inquiry. Readers will delight and be haunted by the invocation of the ‘divine feminine.’” —Annie Guthrie, author of The Good Dark

“Sybil-like, Skibsrud uses each of her subject’s vidas (lives) as springboards for creating the cansos (poems) that make up the wonder that is Medium. Each of these women’s voices becomes audible, their bodies fully fleshed, their emotions and essence masterfully articulated. This collection presents an entirely novel means of actualizing the troubadour paradigm. It’s a gift one can enjoy unwrapping for a long time, each time finding something new. To read these poems is to enter a world of beauty and meaning. What we have here is the work of an extraordinary poet.” —Beatriz Hausner, author of She Who Lies Above

“Probing the confines of time, the textures of geographies and cultures, and our ability to address one another and really listen, Johanna Skibsrud offers multivocal monologues attuned to phantom voices. These poems speak and speak again, becoming various types of mediums: a means of tracing often silenced, forgotten, or mislaid lives; the very substance, the hard material of evanescent bodies transubstantiated into a kind of permanence; voices communicating between the imagined and the real. Whispering in our eye-ears, they pass no judgment. Instead they offer us their open word hands, so that we might take them.” —Oana Avasilichioaei, author of Eight Track

Press Coverage

2024 Spring Preview: Short Fiction and Poetry —Quill & Quire

“The structure of Medium is fascinating…Skibsrud skillfully weaves these narrative notes with lyrical persona poems that act as mediums themselves, giving voice to women like Marie Curie, Clytemnestra, Sojourner Truth, Rachel Carson, and others.” —Leonora Simonovis, Harriet Books, Poetry Foundation

Johanna Skibsrud shares the lives and perspectives of women who biologically, physically, or spiritually shaped the course of history, in MediumOpen Book

Most Anticipated: Our 2024 Spring Poetry Preview —49th Shelf

Interview with Johanna Skibsrud —All Lit Up

“The narratives and legacies that Skibsrud weaves together alongside those of her (presumably) own first-person domestic considerations, including conversations with her daughter, utilize language to offer both warning and study, seeking to provide perspectives on histories lost or set aside, and what lessons might be garnered from those stories. The effect of becoming a mother to a young daughter, as Skibsrud, through both preface and the poems themselves suggest, push through a further examination of the legacies of women, and how too often those with something to offer have been ignored, pushed aside or silenced.” —rob mclennan

37 Poetry Collections to Watch For in Spring 2024 —CBC Books

“Johanna Skibsrud’s Medium out with Book*hug Press is a rhapsody of voices and imaginative conversations with powerful historical females, both the exalted kind and the forgotten, making for a poetic dialectic that satisfies both mind and heart, and reminds us that, like the work of Gwendolyn MacEwen or the recently passed American poet Louise Glück, that persona, myth and history are rich territories for individual poets seeking greater connection and a way to, if not transcend, to enrich individual lived experience.” —Chris Banks, The Woodlot

“Who says poetry is solitary? Make contact with the Canadian writer who embraces performance and finding community”: Interview with Johanna Skibsrud —Toronto Star

14 Mother’s Day Book Recs: “Skibsrud’s writing is throaty, beautiful and sonic.” —River Street Writing

“I devoured these poems with such gluttony and relish, it astonished me… Medium is a sweeping and powerful exploration of the lives of women who have shaped history in their roles as mediums—and mediums has a broad meaning here. Mediums for life, knowledge, science, spirituality: a medium can be a conduit to a great many things but also, the medium is a thing itself—not merely a means to an end. I love the way the book is structured: with a brief introduction to the woman—just a paragraph—and then the poem follows.” —Hollay Ghadery

“We love the way the book is structured: with a brief introduction to the woman—just a paragraph—and then the poem follows. Skibsrud’s writing is throaty, beautiful and sonic.” —River Street Writing

About the Author

Johanna Skibsrud is the author of three previous collections of poetry, three novels—including the Scotiabank Giller Prize–winning novel, The Sentimentalists—and three nonfiction titles, including The Nothing That Is: Essays on Art, Literature, and Being, and most recently, Fool: A Study in Literature and Practice. An Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Arizona, Johanna divides her time between Tucson, Arizona, and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.