False Friends is the first full-length poetry collection from Stephen Cain in more than ten years. In it, he takes inspiration from the linguistic term “false friends”—two words from different languages that appear to be related, but have fundamentally different meanings. In this book are poems both humourous and unforgiving that Cain uses to explore errors, misapprehensions, and mistranslations and offer insights into the “secret operations” hiding within everyday language. These poems spin punk with pastoral, comic book with lyric, the misunderstood with the obvious. And at its core, False Friends is a thought-provoking investigation of the power of poetry as political discourse.
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Praise for False Friends:
“In False Friends, Cain revels in a play of sound and meaning, bouncing his narrative as a pinball across the field of language.” —rob mclennan’s blog
“Much great poetry requires a negotiation of new worlds, an assessment of innovative structures, or a willingness to abandon all predeterminations. False Friends performs these criteria through total upheaval — a rewiring of readers’ brains — leaving in its wake both liberation and confusion.” —Megan Hamilton, Broken Pencil
“Stephen Cain offers hifalutin (& low) games, lots of play on & with various ‘friends’ in literature & art, & a decisive retort to the personal lyric. ” —Douglas Barbour, Eclectic Ruckus
“A dense, inventive book [that]… traffics heavily in alliteration and meaty-sound combinations.” —Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press
“Cain’s book… is stylistically diffuse. Each section presents a radically different approach to writing.” Gregory Betts, Canadian Literature
Stephen Cain is the author of a dozen chapbooks and five full-length collections of poetry, including dyslexicon (1998), American Standard/Canada Dry (2005), I Can Say Interpellation (BookThug, 2011), and Etc Phrases (BookThug, 2014). His academic publications include The Encyclopedia of Fictional and Fantastic Languages (co-written with Tim Conley; 2006) and a critical edition of bpNichol’s early long poems, bp: beginnings (BookThug, 2014). Cain lives in Toronto, where he teaches avant-garde and Canadian literature at York University.