From internationally celebrated writer and visual artist Shani Mootoo comes Cane | Fire, an immersive and vivid collection that marks a long-awaited return to poetry.
Throughout this evocative, sensual collection, akin to a poetic memoir, past and present are in conversation with each other as the narrator moves from Ireland to San Fernando, and finally to Canada. The reinterpretations and translation of this journey and its associated family history give meaning to the present. Through these deeply personal poems, and Mootoo’s own artwork, we begin to understand how a life can not only be shaped, but even reimagined.
Praise for Cane | Fire:
“From the first exquisite poems to the collection’s lyrical and vulnerable culmination, Shani Mootoo undertakes a daunting and necessary vision: to extricate personal history and recast it. What emerges is bravely unruly, with viscerally felt lines that merge evocatively with Mootoo’s visual art. This work dissolves the stuffy confines of poetry, not needing to be ‘anything but [its] majestic self.'” —Doyali Islam, author of heft
“Shani Mootoo’s recursive rhythms entrap us. Here are portraits—ripped, coloured in, mirrored, crossed out, hybridized. Here is anti-history, fractal geography, ‘an escarpment of logic / a story told / falling.’ Cane | Fire is a powerful and deeply intelligent confrontation of self and what is sustained in the embers.” —Madhur Anand, Governor General’s Literary Award-winning author of This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart
2022 Spring Preview: Fiction/Poetry —Quill and Quire
46 Canadian poetry collections to watch for in spring 2022 —CBC Books
Most Anticipated: Our Spring 2022 Poetry Preview —49th Shelf
“Of What Use is Poetry at a Time Like This?” An Interview with Shani Mootoo —Getting Lit with Linda – The Canadian Literature Podcast
Spring books preview: 40 books to help you shake the winter blahs —The Globe and Mail
“Mootoo’s artworks, most of which feature some sort of collage and reassembly, shift the effects of memory, of line, of sound, of relation and amplify the transformative possibilities of these poems.” —Melanie Brannagan Frederiksen, Winnipeg Free Press
New Poetry —49th Shelf
“The whole of Mootoo’s artistic output informs and ripples through Cane | Fire. Employing the glittering detail and a mythic tone that characterizes her fiction, Mootoo has crafted a poetic memoir that reimagines her family histories, including journeys from Ireland to Trinidad and Canada. Mootoo immerses her reader in Caribbean registers, layering text and family photographs with artwork featuring Hindu goddesses and gods. Making the quotidian sacred, she transports us to a Trinidad where the “sitar hunts” and “blind birds flew through cane-fire sweetened air.” Her poetic gift is to teach us how to read anew, trusting the “image-language” of art and poetry to speak of grief, family, and displacement, but also joy and renewal.” —Shazia Hafiz Ramji, Quill and Quire
“Mootoo uses verse, space and art to create the images and feelings here in the collection, to great effect: even the use of different colours of font, from light grey to denote something quieter to other colours for emphasis of a point, or to draw your eye to a specific part. Holding this book, and experiencing the way the art is laid out on the page was a true experience by itself.” —Alison Manley, Miramichi Reader