Spring 2023 Poetry Preview: Lent by Kate Cayley | Book*hug Press

Spring 2023 Poetry Preview: Lent by Kate Cayley

This week’s Spring 2023 Season Preview spotlights Lent by award-winning writer Kate Cayley.

In these peculiar times, we are thrust back into ourselves in a kind of suspension: one in which only private life exists yet threatens to become trivial through a sense of mutual, overarching dread. Lent is built from this tension, exploring domestic and artistic life amidst the environmental crisis and the surprising ways that every philosophical quandary—large and small—converges in the home, in small objects, conversations, and moments.

“Gorgeous and startling, the poems in Kate Cayley’s Lent emerge as a testament to poetry itself: the desire to grapple with an imperfect world, and yet respond with praise. ‘Show me/the pith of my own heart,’ she writes, despite the darkness. These are poems filled with hope, searingly intelligent, by one of our country’s finest poets. Lent is a wonder,” writes Steven Price, Scotiabank Giller Prize–shortlisted author of Lampedusa.

See the video below for an introduction by Kate Cayley!

And enjoy the following sneak preview, featuring two short poems from Lent! Lent will be released on April 4, 2023, and is available now for pre-order, either from our online shop or from your local independent bookstore.


And if repetition could itself be
a form of attention, folding along the crease
until the crease finds itself
hollowing out the groove, as in marriage,
studying the same face, the same
permeable body, as in children, their fury, their
fraught going-forward thinning out your life
like a membrane that will not break, lives
that alter in the telling, theirs outstripping yours
and stripping you of anything they find useful yet
carrying you always with them, a husk pinned to their inside
pockets, as the poet who wrote on the back of recipe cards
attended sternly to the rising bread, attended to each
blade of grass on her Amherst lawn, then I will
believe that language first rose up in us
as praise.

The Boys Among the Trees

My sons, hiding behind trees,
are rehearsing battle. Secretive
curl of lip, clench of teeth. Faces
among leaves. I walk quickly
the other way, puzzled
by what they think they know.
What I think I know. How we are wrong.

Kate Cayley is the author of two previous poetry collections, a young adult novel, and two short story collections, including How You Were Born, winner of the Trillium Book Award and shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. A tenth anniversary edition of How You Were Born is forthcoming from Book*hug Press in 2024. She has also written several plays, both traditional and experimental, which have been performed in Canada, the US, and the UK. She is a frequent writing collaborator with the immersive company Zuppa Theatre. Cayley has won the O. Henry Short Story Prize, the PRISM International Short Fiction Prize, the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction, and a Chalmers Fellowship. She has been a finalist for the K. M. Hunter Award, the Carter V. Cooper Short Story Prize, and the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award, and longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize, and the CBC Literary Prizes in both poetry and fiction. In 2021, she won the Mitchell Prize for Faith and Poetry for the title poem in Lent. She has been writer in residence at McMaster University and the Toronto Public Library, and mentored emerging writers through the University of Guelph Creative Writing MFA, the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, Diaspora Dialogues, and Sisters Writes. Cayley lives in Toronto with her wife and their three children.

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