Three New Must-Read Queer Canadian Poetry Books

Don’t miss these collections! If you get them soon, you may even finish reading them before me—I’ve currently got All Violet and This Wound Is A World on my bedside table and just recently posted my review of Lyric Sexology Vol 1.

All Violet by Rani Rivera

This posthumous collection of poetry was published in late 2017 by Caitlin Press, which beautifully describes the book:

“In All Violet, a young woman chronicles the experience of living on the margins, in spaces and places where body and mind are flayed by guilt, disappointments and betrayals. Her poems record the shattering trauma of struggling to survive through periods of doubt, fear, rage and pain, creating a narrative of disconnection, indignation, alienation and emptiness, the extremes of suffering and desperation. Employing lyrical free verse, Rani Rivera has skillfully employed the short line to pinpoint moments of acute perception. Unadorned, taut and precise cries of pain, loss and fury draw the reader deeper and deeper inside this in-your-face confrontation with a dark world of foreboding alleviated by flashes of mordant wit and grace under fire.”

Check out an excerpt from “Night and Day”:

I’m getting off the 501 streetcar

and stomping my big black boots into the sidewalk.

Surprisingly, my posture is perfect,

unburdened by a knapsack full of poems

and one vintage men’s Burberry trench coat.

I’m heading home on Queen West West

in an asymmetrically zippered coat

and a Northbound Leather shopping bag in tow.

Carrying war wounds and forgotten accessories.

Feeling confident, cocky even, assured.

This Wound Is A World by Billy-Ray Belcourt

Published in fall 2017 by Frontenac House Poetry, Cree poet Belcourt’s debut book of poetry is:

“Part manifesto, part memoir, This Wound is a World is an invitation to “cut a hole in the sky to world inside.” Billy-Ray Belcourt issues a call to turn to love and sex to understand how Indigenous peoples shoulder sadness and pain like theirs without giving up on the future. His poems upset genre and play with form, scavenging for a decolonial kind of heaven where ‘everyone is at least a little gay.’ ”

I had the pleasure of attending a reading by Belcourt and some other Indigenous poets and this is the beginning of a poem “Sacred” I distinctly remember:

a native man looks me in the eyes as he refuses to hold my hand

during a round dance. his pupils are like bullets and i wonder what

kind of pain he’s been through to not want me in this world with

him any longer. i wince a little because the earth hasn’t held all of me

for quite some time now and i am lonely in a way that doesn’t hurt


you see, a round dance is a ceremony for both grief and love and each

body joined by the flesh s encircled by the spirits of ancestors who’ve

already left this world. i ask myself: how many of them gave up on

desire because they loved their kookums more than they loved


lyric sexologyLyric Sexology Vol 1 by Trish Salah

In its new 2017 edition, Lyric Sexology Vol 1 is described by its publisher Metonymy Press like this:

” ‘That’s the bones of Lyric Sexology—that poetry can be a philosophical argument.’
—Trish Salah

Mostly written before the current cultural visibility of trans lit, Lyric Sexology Vol. 1 was Salah’s prescient contribution to a canon of self-determined literature that explores transness. In this case, the author sidesteps the ‘I’ in the text and instead draws on archives—sexological, anthropological, psychological, among others—to demonstrate the shifting and shifty nature of our identities, affiliations, and narratives.”

I recently reviewed it and shared an excerpt from my favourite poem:

I masturbate in lunar cycles

with your bleeding agile thighs,

big tits in red mesh crushed.

The gravity of your love

and our doom, in mind.

At Club Super Sexe, you’re the new favourite:

corkscrew blonde curls, ballerina body

except those tits you hate—

why you’re not a ballerina—

and a face too young to be legal.

But best, with brains, they like that:

one of the regulars brings this magnetic chess set.

On slow nights the manager lets him play you

while other girls vamp on stage

You gunk up my face and put me in your dress,

ripped fishnets. I look awful. I cut my face

in the bathroom mirror. You suck the glass out,

smoke me up and promise

someday I’ll have tits like yours…

About CaseytheCanadianLesbrarian

Known in some internet circles as Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and librarian who holds an MA in English literature. She lives and works in the unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation (Nanaimo, BC). Topics and activities dear to her heart include cats, bisexuality, libraries, queer (Canadian) literature, running, and drinking tea. She runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find reviews of LGBTQ2IA+ Canadian books, archives of the book advice column Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian, and some other queer, bookish stuff. She also writes for Autostraddle. Find her on Twitter: @canlesbrarian. Some of her old reviews, especially the non-Canadian variety, can be found at the Lesbrary.
This entry was posted in Canadian, Gay, Indigenous, Lesbian, list, Montreal, Poetry, Queer, Toronto, Trans, Trans Feminine, Transgender and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Three New Must-Read Queer Canadian Poetry Books

  1. Pingback: Link Round Up: February 1 – 14 – The Lesbrary

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