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the pet radish, shrunken by Pearl Pirie

the pet radish, shrunken by Pearl Pirie

Publication Date: March 5, 2015
96 pages
8 x 6 inches
ISBN 9781771660921

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Winner of the 2016 Archibald Lampman Award

49th Shelf Most Anticipated Spring 2015 Poetry  Selection

In this post-lyrical era, poems can be stories, or they can just as easily be exuberant laughter set to words, an experiment in language, or an incidental collation of plays on a Scrabble board.

the pet radish, shrunken, the third full collection of poetry from the inimitable Pearl Pirie, deals in the poetics of sound, language, and play. In true Pirie style, this fresh, quirky, and clear-seeing collection speaks in a range of forms and voices: From a military convoy of turtles, to a Kafkaesque conversation with a housefly, to the dissection of a fruit machine, Pirie offers oulipo found speech as it integrates and disintegrates, plays with and tumbles through language.

Earning comparisons to Jenny Sampirisi’s Croak and Leigh Kostilidis’s Hypotheticals for their shared sense of word play and curiosity, the pet radish, shrunken will appeal to exploring minds who are ready to question language, society, and self while not minding a taint of grief and comedy that necessarily creeps in around the edges. This is poetry for those who love a sense of serious linguistic playfulness.

Watch the BookThug Author Interview:

Watch the Book Launch and Reading:

Listen to the book’s entry music by musician/composer Jennifer Pederson:

Praise for the pet radish, shrunken:

“Quirky and fresh, playful yet serious, Pirie’s collection, the pet radish, shrunken, demands and activates new pathways of reason. These line-by-line lyrical segments both tantalize and take the reader down the rabbit hole (pulling rabbits out of hats along the way) with their semantic surprises and jumpy music. Pirie sees the world askew and brings the reader along for the ride. An invigorating collection.” —Catherine Graham, author of Her Red Hair Rises With the Wings of Insects

“The poems collected in the pet radish, shrunken invite us equally into routine and catastrophic events. Pirie submits ‘we are always settling into a new now’ and leads us through a life revised by the external and internal encounters of a day. With humour, play, and brass, Pirie revels in the daily ruckus of domesticity, verbatim conversations, and the language that must somehow hold a whole existence.” —Jenny Sampirisi, author of Croak

“In Pearl Pirie’s poems, language ferments, foments a ‘vinegar vigour.’ Flipping the labels off contemporary mores, cooking with sound, she offers quick food for thought. Keep up with her if you can.” —Daphne Marlatt

“Precise riots of vowels and consonants rattle these poems. Pearl Pirie’s lines burn with sonic-rich images: ‘kalimba of algae’ and ‘tight loops of oops.’ Her verbal verve is rooted in an ecstatic attentiveness to language, both found and formal. Charged with innovative and lyrical energies, the pet radish, shrunken is a gorgeous rebellion.” —Eduardo Corral, author of Slow Lightning

Jury Citation for 2016 Archibald Lampman Award

“Inven­tive, adven­tur­ous, humor­ous, and a lyric aper­ture onto the strange beauty of the quo­tid­ian, pet radish, shrunken is a delight to read. Uni­fied in their unpre­dictabil­ity, these poems explore a range of forms and voices.   Pirie rubs words until they spark and fume, turn­ing the com­mon into an uncom­mon blaze. Every line is joy­ful in its eccen­tric­i­ties, and emi­nently re-read­able as it tum­bles through lan­guage.”


“Like a difficult crossword puzzle or an advanced sudoku, Pirie’s poems are a stimulating exercise in cognition, where reading becomes a process of unravelling language.” —Quill & Quire

“[Pirie will] slip a hard edge into the most carefree poems to knock you out while other lines evoke giggles …. A radiant union of contemporary situations and classic themes… charming, playful, and immaculately skewed.” —Maisonneuve

“Pirie’s produced a poetry of pixels, of images that flash once then are gone.” —Winnipeg Free Press

the pet radish, shrunken is not only comic, however ebullient Pirie’s ludic play is; it is also mindful of its politics without being po-faced about them. To read the collection solely for its quirky fun would be to sell Pirie short, for her wit is not frivolous but judiciously cut through with sharp takes on contemporary life.” —Tanis MacDonald for The Rusty Toque

The Pet Radish, Shrunken is a wide-ranging potpourri of various & varied poems full of (often cutting & sardonic) wit, punning, & delight in the odd & transgressive.” —Eclectic Ruckus

“What becomes curious about Pirie’s writing is how she appears to utilize poetry as a way to understand how the world works and somehow navigate through the occasional confusion, whether the immediate day-to-day of existing, or something larger and more abstract.” —Small Press Book Review

“Through her work, she hopes to dispel the notion that poetry can’t be funny … No worries there, she had us at pet radishes and secret agent squirrels.” — The Kitchissippi Times

“Pearl Pirie is a poet truly in love with language and not afraid to show it.” —Angela Counter for Foment Magazine

“Pirie entices readers with cartoonish, sing-song lyrics, the words ring out their music, this is poetry sung to an air.” —Flat Singles Press

Interviews and Profiles:

Pearl Pirie takes the The Proust Questionnaire —Open Book Toronto

Poetry Week: One-on-One with the talented Pearl Pirie —Apt 613

Wanda Praamsma in conversation with Pearl Pirie —BookThug Blog

On Writers Block with Pearl Pirie —All Lit Up

Even Absurdity Can Take Itself Too Seriously: Pearl Pirie in Conversation —Concrete and River

Pearl Pirie is the author of been shed bore (2010) and Thirsts (2011), which won the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. Her poetry has been published in numerous literary journals, including filling Station, BafterC, Arc Poetry Magazine, Gusts, PRECIPICe, Dandelion, and This Magazine. Her poem “Summer Names” was shortlisted in the Best Canadian Poetry 2014, and she made the 50-poem longlist for Best Canadian Poetry 2011, for her poem “The First Mother’s Day After Dad’s Death.” Pirie’s work has been included in several anthologies, focused on innovative poets, haiku, and other genres of writing. She has several chapbooks produced in Canada, France and Japan, most recently  polyphonic choral of civet tongues and manna (unarmed, 2014, USA).  She has produced two dozen titles under phafours press. A host of Literary Landscape on CKCUfm.com, she organized Ottawa’s Tree Seed Workshops 2009-2014. She gives workshops and talks on poetry for various organizations. Connect with Pirie at www.pearlpirie.com, on her poetry and poetics blog, http://pagehalffull.com/pesbo, or on Twitter @pesbo. Her most recent project, a spin-off of the pet radish, shrunken, is a bot that generates matryoshka words: http://www.pearlpirie.com/wellthatputs on demand.

Additional information

Weight .2 kg
Dimensions 8 × 6 in