2017 Short-listed for the Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry
100 pages $19.95
“Welcome to Shirley Graham’s one-woman staging of Shakespeare, played from her room of masks, as she puts on all the parts in front of her mirror and then takes them off, word by word by word. This is Shakespeare played with an orchestra conducted by Lorca. Will said all the world was a stage. Graham shows that he got that a bit wrong. All the stage is a world, and she shows us that the world is a woman’s body talking mirror talk. A tour de force.” –Harold Rhenisch, author of Living Will: Shakespeare After Dark and Free Will.
“In Shirley Graham’s masterful new poems, the boundaries between stage, audience and backstage are blurred. In the wise stillness of these words you are propelled to motion. As you enter and exit, you bump shoulders with your various selves. How will you speak now without shattering / the carefully gathered silence? How will you live in this world and keep yourself tender?”– Daniela Elza, author of the weight of dew and milk tooth bane bone.
Celebrating the four hundredth anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, Shakespearean Blues is a modern romp through the state of mankind, drenched in Shakespeare's words and characters. At turns joyous, tragic, witty, solemn, mysterious and wry, these poems are wide ranging like the quotes and characters that inspire them. Graham returns to the blue world of prior volumes, and uses the bard as a springboard to explore our human condition, seeing us somewhere between Puck's "Lord what fools these mortals be" and Miranda's "How beauteous mankind is!"
"Graham has the virtuosic skill of rendering a moment eternal."–Don Domanski, Governor General's Award for Poetry
Shirley Graham has been writing, publishing in literary magazines and giving readings in Canada and the U.S. for three decades. She studied writing and literature at UC Irvine, UCLA, Brown University, the Sorbonne in Paris, and in private workshops with a range of writers, including Galway Kinnell, Sharon Olds, Robert Haas and Mark Strand. Her books include Blue Notes (m)Other Tongue Press, What Someone Wanted and Book of Blue (Black Moss Press). She is a psychologist and lives on Salt Spring Island with her husband, poet Peter Levitt, and son Tai.
THE DANCEHALL YEARS
352 pages, $23.95
"With the splendid flexibility of her narrating voice and empathetic heart, Joan Haggerty has conjured up a richly textured world in order to explore the dreams, heartbreaks, adventures, and surprises of a unique collection of west-coasters. A major accomplishment.”–Jack Hodgins, author of Broken Ground
“The Dancehall Years is an elegy to a coastal culture almost lost—island cottages with views of the Union Steamships in Howe Sound, the Japanese gardeners before WWII and the terrible internments, forgotten inlets and logging camps, long summer evenings in the dancehall, with its circle of white Corinthian columns, where ‘you're only allowed to dance inside the columns if you're in love or if you're spectacular dancers.’ Haggerty explores the intricate ecology of families, where memory and love are as tangled and difficult as blackberry canes surrounding the cottages, their histories echoing.”–Theresa Kishkan, author of Patrin
This enriching, complex family saga and interracial drama brims with beautiful writing. It begins one summer on Bowen Island during the Depression and moves through Pearl Harbour and the evacuation of the Japanese and into the 1970s. Gwen Killam is a child on Bowen whose idyllic summers are obliterated by the outbreak of the war. Her swimming teacher, Takumi Yoshito, disappears along with his parents who are famous for their devotion to the Bowen Inn gardens. The Lower Mainland is in blackout, and so is the future of Gwen’s beloved Aunt Isabelle who must make an unthinkable sacrifice. The Bowen Island dancehall is well-known during the war as a moonlight cruise destination and it becomes an emotional landmark for time passing and remembered. Brilliantly crafted, The Dancehall Years is a literary gem.
Joan Haggerty was born in 1940 and raised in Vancouver, B.C. From 1962 to 1972 she lived and wrote in London, England; Formentera, Spain; and New York City. Returning to the B.C. coast, she made her home in Roberts Creek and Vancouver where she taught in the Creative Writing Dept. at U. B.C. She began a second career as a high school teacher in the Bulkley Valley in 1990. Her previous books are Please, Miss, Can I Play God?, Daughters of the Moon, and The Invitation which was nominated for the Governor General’s Award in 1994.
PRAISE FOR THE DANCEHALL YEARS
“Takumi’s story is one of the many rich narrative threads…the numerous characters are all well-developed. A beautifully written saga, combines the deep complexity of family, love, memory and community. A sophisticated novel.”- BC BookWorld
“Prepare to be swept away, rich and sweeping, Joan Haggerty is an extraordinary writer, her prose Woolfian in its stream of consciousness, its immediacy”- Pickle Me This
“Dancehall Years an intricate and intimate novel”-Vancouver Sun
PRAISE FOR JOAN’S BOOKS
“The Invitation… It’s exciting to find a book so moving, sensual and compelling that getting to the end of it is both urgent and dreaded.”–Quill & Quire
“The Invitation is one of the most generous and empathetic memoirs to come out in years.”–The Georgia Straight
“Daughters of the Moon… Joan Haggerty is such a strong writer, so personal–with such prose.”–John Irving
“Daughters of the Moon… written with a lot of intelligence and skill and a strong, vital female identity.”–Marge Piercy
“Please, Miss, Can I Play God? is a lively, unusual book.”–The Sunday Times
“Please, Miss, Can I Play God?… the impact of imaginative improvisation techniques on childhood energy is focused and told with humour.”–The Library Journal
Adventures Growing Up in Postwar Liverpool
by Peter Haase
314 pgs, 15 b&w photos
"This memoir comes at you like a homespun but eloquent and funny missive from another world: the hardscrabble, life of post-World War II Liverpool. Peter Haase came through by riding his wits, humour, fast-talking and toughness to overcome poverty, a penchant for petty crimes and other hardships. My only gripe is that the book ends too soon.”–Derek Lundy, author of Borderlands: Riding the Edge of America
“A nostalgic treasure, Liverpool Lad is a coming-of-age tale and streetwise portrait of working-class life in post-war Britain’s tough industrial north. No wonder many left for a better life in Australia, Canada and beyond. Anyone who watched Coronation Street or rocked to the Mersey Sound will recognize these butcher-boy depictions of the everyday joys and hardships from Liverpool, the town where Marx failed and The Beatles prevailed. Peter Haase turns memory into melody. Here’s the real deal.”–Trevor Carolan, author of The Literary Storefront: The Glory Years, 1978-1985
A lively memoir in an authentic and engaging voice of growing up street savvy, the youngest of four boys, in the famous downtown working-class slums of Everton, Liverpool in the '50s and '60s before they were demolished. Our young hero is talented but his valiant attempts to “be good” sometimes fail because of violence, poverty, bullying teachers and other disasters. He loves music and fishing; accidently meets Beatles George and John; wins big on the Grand National; apprentices as a butcher boy; becomes a Mod; digs the Mersey Beat, the Cavern Club and tailored suits. Before Liverpool’s economic decline deepens, at 16, resilient raconteur and Scouser Peter and his family find a “way out” and emigrate to Australia.
Peter Haase is an electrician/builder, singer/musician, artist, gardener, letterpress printer, former preacher and scriptural teacher and political activist. Born in Everton, Liverpool, he immigrated to Australia in Dec. 1966, then Canada in 1971, living in Toronto, the Yukon and Vancouver, before settling on Salt Spring Island in 1990. He married Canadian writer Mona Fertig and has a son and daughter. This is his first book.
By Kerry Gilbert
86 pgs $18.95
“Darling girl, when all else fails…join the circus.”–unknown
“Delivered in crisp, edgy prose verse reminiscent of Ondaatje in The Collected Works of Billy The Kid or Coming Through Slaughter, and envisioning a grotesqueness like Su Croll’s in Worlda Mirth, Kerry Gilbert’s Tight Wire unravels a circus-bestiary of “women on display,” of women struggling with “amateur heart” and “new skin.” Gilbert envisions a new kind of ‘June Cleaver’ here, a woman, a mother, a lover just as restricted as her famous, mid-50s North American prototype, but also strangely new and appalling in a different way, too, and strong and frightening as well. A visceral, wonderful read.”–John Lent
"The "tight wire" is where the feminine is performed within the callousness of the culture's expectations. Gilbert provokes the reader to imagine the violence, vulnerability, and grief that can attend the female experience of marriage, birth, and motherhood.”–Sharon Thesen
In this brilliant and powerful collection, images of the circus are central. One of the first lines reads: “funambulism. barefoot—no leather soled slippers. her big and second toe cut deep in between by braided tight wire. no props–just freehand.” The definition of funambulism is “tight rope walking.” The theme of these poems are balance: both literal, with ten antique carnival prose poems becoming the spine of the collection, as well as symbolic, with prose poems about women’s stories/voices—balancing their growing/shrinking bodies and their ordinary/extraordinary lives. This book is about the distorted expectations of domesticity and of the female heart.
Kerry Gilbert grew up in the Okanagan. She has lived on Vancouver Island, in South Korea, and in Australia. She now lives back in the valley, where she teaches at Okanagan College and raises her three children. Her first book, (kerplnk): a verse novel of development, was published in 2005.