The Counting House by Sandra Ridley


The Counting House by Sandra Ridley


Publication Date: October 1, 2013
96 pages
6 x 8 inches
ISBN 9781927040843

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Finalist for the 2014 Archibald Lampman Award

Akin to a bookkeeper’s accounting of what’s given and taken in a fraught, uncertain exchange, The Counting House goes on to record the pageantry and pedantry of courtly affection gone awry. Symbols and origins of traditional rhymes involving kings and queens serve as inventory, alongside elements of Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. In forensic sequences of inquisition, scrutiny, and reckoning, Ridley reveals the maiden as muse as modern darling—unhoused and exacting—in “all of her violet forms.”

Watch the Book Launch and Reading:

Praise for The Counting House:

“Sandra Ridley has revealed our closest contradictions in poems where harm is exhausted in both pleasure and pain. These poems find a blackbird baked into a pie, and our own drooling expectation of dessert, the edible object, is replaced by the excitement of the bird that escapes it, somehow alive. We revel in the spectre of the creature’s death and resurrection. How close we are to pain and destruction here, but Ridley surprises us with life that stubbornly and lovingly continues. In language that soothes and bites word by word, The Counting House is a book that lives fiercely in the complex in-between of love and punishment, pleasure and pain, coo and cry.” —Jenny Sampirisi, author of Croak


“Sandra Ridley’s The Counting House is a powerhouse collection, establishing its tone within very first words…Ridley’s style is what brings the ambitious collection its success. Her choice to play with space, as if scoring the poems herself, creates a rich duality between pauses and punctured fragments.” –ML Wolters for Cape Cod Poetry Review

“Ridley manages pinpoint minutae of a complex thought, extended and stretched apart to reveal and revel in an incredibly dense gymnastic language.” –rob mclennan’s blog

“But it is a text that rewards repeat and aloud readings amply. The diversity of language is marvelous, and Ridley’s deeper humanistic concerns — about devalued subjects crashing forward into a condition of self-declaration — emerge through these poetic sequences intensely, and bravely.” –Margaret Christakos for Canadian Poetries  

Archibald Lampman Poetry Award, Excerpts of Jury Comments on The Counting House:
Jurors: Stan Dragland, Adam Dickinson and Katherena Vermette.

“This is a remarkably adventurous and fascinating book. The Counting House explores in different registers a failed or failing relationship and the states of mind of someone caught, wretched and in desperate need of escape. The verbal units may be fragmentary, but they assemble with great power in the reader. “

“Constellating fragments from philosophy, feminism, and nursery rhymes, the book takes an unusual poetic accounting as it unfolds through wild linguistic leaps and startling juxtaposition. This is an ambitious and highly rewarding book.”

Interviews and Profiles: 

Opening Small Moments Up: An Interview with Poet Sandra Ridley –Room Magazine

Interview with Sandra Ridley –The Toronto Quarterly

Woven Odes: Sandra Ridley –All Lit Up

Sandra Ridley’s first full-length collection of poetry, Fallout, won the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Award for publishing, the Alfred G. Bailey prize, and was a finalist for the Ottawa Book Award. Her second book, Post-Apothecary, was short-listed for the 2012 ReLit and Archibald Lampman Awards. Also in 2012, Ridley won the International Festival of Authors’ Battle of the Bards and was featured in The University of Toronto’s Influency Salon. Twice a finalist for the Robert Kroetsch Award for innovative poetry, Ridley is the author of two chapbooks, Rest Cure—and Lift, for which she was co-recipient of the bpNichol Chapbook Award.

Additional information

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