Friends of Book*hug, meet Spring 2021. Earlier this year, we unveiled the forthcoming titles in our Spring 2021 season, but now it’s time to get to know the authors and their books a bit better. For the next while, we’ll be highlighting individual spring titles, and sharing some thoughts from the authors and exclusive excerpts on the blog.
Today, we’re excited to preview Billeh Nickerson’s Duct-Taped Roses. In his latest poetry collection, Nickerson shares heartbreaks and offers odes and elegies in reflections on family, community, life, and loss. As a bush pilot, Nickerson’s father would duct-tape his planes to keep them flying. The poignancy of his relationship with his father is celebrated in the long poem “Skies.” Other poems reminisce about love and the complex resiliency of gay men. Through his signature irreverence, honesty and wit, Nickerson explores what can be repaired, what must be celebrated, and what—inevitably—is lost to time.
“Nickerson looks up at his community from the gutter, not down from the condo loft—and therefore, as Wilde taught us, he can also see the stars,” wrote the late R.M. Vaughan, who was a dear friend of the author.
We’ve selected an excerpt from Duct-Taped Roses, which you can read and enjoy below. The book will be released on April 15th, 2021, and is available now for pre-order, either from our online shop or from your local independent bookstore.
Love Coward or What Happened after My Poem “Driving in Adam’s Jeep” Appeared on Poetry in Transit
For months I receive phone calls—
hey I’m in White Rock, hey I’m in Surrey,
hey I’m heading to school, I’m with my mom,
I’m just getting back from the doctor
and I saw your poem, I’m looking right at
your poem, OMG your poem, your poem
on the bus, on the Skytrain, on the B-line!
It’s so amazing to see your words, your love
poem on the bus! How cool is that?
You’ve made it! You’re for real!
I love how \\kiss me//
looks like windshield wipers!
I wish you could have kissed him.
I wanted him to kiss you—
and never for the rest of my life
will so many people read one of my poems,
a poem about wanting to kiss someone,
actually about wanting him to kiss me,
and sometimes I see my own poem,
sometimes it hovers over my head
while I commute from school
and lip-read people whispering my words.
One day a friend tells me he saw it
with the words LOVE COWARD
scrawled across it,
which is sorta true I guess
so at the very least I know
the vandal read the poem
but for how many weeks or months
was my poem read
with LOVE COWARD drawn
across it in dark marker,
how many nodding
Billeh Nickerson is the author of six previous books, including Artificial Cherry, which was nominated for the City of Vancouver Book Award. He a past editor of both Event and Prism International, and co-editor of the groundbreaking anthology Seminal: The Anthology of Canada’s Gay Male Poets. He lives and works in Vancouver where he is the co-chair of the Creative Writing Department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.