Graduate Publications

Injun
Jordan Abel

Award-winning Nisga’a poet Jordan Abel’s third collection, Injun, is a long poem about racism and the representation of Indigenous peoples. Composed of text found in western novels published between 1840 and 1950 – the heyday of pulp publishing and a period of unfettered colonialism in North America – Injun then uses erasure, pastiche, and a focused poetics to create a visually striking response to the western genre.

After compiling the online text of 91 of these now public-domain novels into one gargantuan document, Abel used his word processor’s “Find” function to search for the word “injun.” The 509 results were used as a study in context: How was this word deployed? What surrounded it? What was left over once that word was removed? Abel then cut up the sentences into clusters of three to five words and rearranged them into
the long poem that is Injun. The book contains the poem as well as peripheral material that will help the reader to replicate, intuitively, some of the conceptual processes that went into composing the poem.

Though it has been phased out of use in our “post-racial” society, the word “injun” is peppered throughout pulp western novels. Injun retraces, defaces, and effaces the use of this word as a colonial and racial marker. While the subject matter of the source text is clearly problematic, the textual explorations in Injun help to destabilize the colonial image of the “Indian” in the source novels, the western genre as a whole, and the western canon.

The Place of Scraps
Jordan Abel

The Place of Scraps revolves around Marius Barbeau, an early-twentieth-century ethnographer, who studied many of the First Nations cultures in the Pacific Northwest, including Jordan Abel's ancestral Nisga'a Nation. Barbeau, in keeping with the popular thinking of the time, believed First Nations cultures were about to disappear completely, and that it was up to him to preserve what was left of these dying cultures while he could. Unfortunately, his methods of preserving First Nations cultures included purchasing totem poles and potlatch items from struggling communities in order to sell them to museums. While Barbeau strove to protect First Nations cultures from vanishing, he ended up playing an active role in dismantling the very same cultures he tried to save. Drawing inspiration from Barbeau's canonical book Totem Poles, Jordan Abel explores the complicated relationship between First Nations cultures and ethnography. His poems simultaneously illuminate Barbeau's intentions and navigate the repercussions of the anthropologist's actions. Through the use of erasure techniques, Abel carves out new understandings of Barbeau's writing - each layer reveals a fresh perspective, each word takes on a different connotation, each letter plays a different role, and each punctuation mark rises to the surface in an unexpected way. As Abel writes his way ever deeper into Barbeau's words, he begins to understand that he is much more connected to Barbeau than he originally suspected.

Un/inhabited
Jordan Abel

Award-winning Nisga’a poet Jordan Abel’s second collection of poetry, Un/inhabited, maps the terrain of the public domain to create a layered investigation of the interconnections between language and land. Abel constructed the book’s source text by compiling 91 complete western novels found on the website Project Gutenberg, an online archive of public domain works. Using his word processor’s Ctrl-F function, he then searched the document in its totality for words that relate to the political and social aspects of land, territory and ownership. Each search query represents a study in context (How was this word deployed? What surrounded it? What is left over once that word is removed?) that accumulates toward a representation of the public domain as a discoverable and inhabitable body of land. Featuring a text by independent curator Kathleen Ritter—the first piece of scholarship on Abel’s work—Un/inhabited reminds us of the power of language as material and invites us to reflect on what is present when we see nothing.

Making the Team
Kelsey Blair

When Hannah doesn’t make the Grade 8 girls basketball team and her best friend June does, Hannah misses playing basketball and being part of a team. Worse, she and June don’t spend as much time together and start growing apart. How can Hannah make sure that she makes the team next year while all the other players are playing more and getting better this year?

Remembering how June saved her from being bullied when they first met, Hannah helps a classmate from being bullied, he returns the favour by teaching her about goal-setting and planning. As she develops her basketball skills and confidence, she realizes she stands a good shot at making the high school team. But can she ever get her friendship with June back?

"The conflicts and decisions of the main characters are very real for a very challenging age, and handled deftly by Blair, who brings both basketball and literary credibility." - Resource Links

Ugly Kicks
Kelsey Blair

Ashley Rivera’s single mom can’t afford to buy her new basketball shoes — she doesn’t even have enough for the registration fee when Ashley makes the city basketball team. So Ashley takes on extra work to make the money she needs to play basketball. Soon Ashley’s overloaded schedule makes her too tired for school and her friends, and she can’t take it when the popular girl on her team suddenly starts teasing her about her ragged sneakers.

Does Ashley even want to keep playing? With the help of friends old and new, and with surprising support from her brother, Ashley figures out how to afford the price of play.

“Author Kelsey Blair knows basketball and how to tell a story. Her portrait of clashing personalities and competitive rivalry is varied and realistic, right down to the “ugly kicks” of her protagonist Ashley” – Lesley Little, Resource Links

Pick and Roll
Kelsey Blair

Jazz Smith-Mohapatra is the toughest and best player on her basketball team — and this year she’s determined to lead the team to a championship win. But in the last game of the regular season, Jazz sets an offensive move called a pick and roll. A player on the other team doesn’t see it coming; she crashes into Jazz, and then onto the floor. Though it’s a play that Jazz has done many times, she’s never hurt anyone before.

Now there’s going to be a Fair Play Commission hearing to determine whether the play was legal or not. But even worse than the possibility of being suspended for the playoffs, Jazz’s teammates are suddenly questioning her physical style of play and whether the team can make it all the way to the pennant without her.

Pick and Roll was a Junior Library Guild Selection in spring 2015 and won a Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Book for Kids & Teens designation.

“A slam dunk for girls who love sports, and an excellent example of diversity without flag-waving.”
– Jeanne Fredriksen Booklist

“This story, like others in the [Lorimer] Sports Stories series, uses sport as the central theme to tell an engaging, relevant story for young readers…. There are some good lessons about friendship, learning to move on after a setback, and playing on a team.”
– Jaclyn McLean, Resource Links

Toward. Some. Air.: Remarks on Poetics of Mad Affect, Militancy, Feminism, Demotic Rhythms, Emptying, Intervention, Reluctance, Indigeneity, Immediacy, Lyric Conceptualism, Commons, Pastoral Margins, Ambivalence, Desire, Disability, The Digital, and Other Practices
Edited by Fred Wah & Amy De'Ath

Toward. Some. Air. is an unprecedented collection of contemporary poetics from Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Here, poet and scholar Amy De'Ath and former Parliamentary Poet Laureate Fred Wah collect a wide range of conversations, statements, essays, profiles, and poems and place these often radical and interdisciplinary approaches in proximal relation to each other. The result is an open invitation to consider the contours and meaning of Anglophone poetic practice, as a mode of interpreting the world, as a potential for transforming subjectivity, or something else entirely.

"Much of this formidable volume will set hackles rising, some of it will smooth hackles and render them fur again - post-anthropocene, animal, and freely passioned. All of it will, hopefully, foment revolution. As the title suggests, the revolution will unfold incrementally - directions must be chosen, footsteps must be taken and then hasten, and the prospect for now only hovers on the horizon. But here are the voices of invitation. These may be last poets, but they are also first. Read this book freely and frequently and stay alert." --Lyn Hejinian.

Erec & Enide
Amy De'Ath

Erec & Enide is a bold and unashamedly intimate work that delights in the theatrical, communicative powers of language, and by turns gives way to a quiet sadness. Writing out of contemporary feminist revisions of lyric and epic forms, the poems set up an overtly feminised display which the reader then re-enacts to find meanings which do not ally and a feminism which does not conform to conventional modes of uplift.

“It is the world’s wild glare that provides the complex heart of Erec & Enide. With wisdom, uncommon wit, and precision, Amy De’Ath’s spirited first book unsettles all things to reveal that neither a language nor a body is a closed system. De’Ath’s is an inclusive imagination that meets the world with lyric intensity and irony—her poems invite us to feel: “stranger, it’s a hunger I’m looking for.” ” — PETER GIZZI

Lower Parallel
Amy De'Ath

Lower Parallel takes pleasure in anger at what's not changed, got worse, hurt everyone, some more than others, waged and unwaged; is sincere with rage against what is intolerable, like nobility, like men, colonial and not; wants to cancel its own resistance to being reduced to intellect -- reduce me, it says, here's a feminist anyway, so fuck you!

"Amy De'Ath's Lower Parallel is the lyric encrusted with glitter. By that I mean it's celebratory and tender too; and so beautifully done that all that it is washes over you. Here's "a population of rage at you", and a commitment to feminism that's angry and witchy, surprising and spitting." — JULIANA SPAHR

Fortified Castles
ryan fitzpatrick

Starting with the lyric statement as a point of interrogation, Fortified Castles asks what might cause a retreat into the comforting walls of the self. North American culture is saturated with discourses of self-improvement and self-awareness at the same time it is full of anxiety over the things that separate us. Moving from a stock-ticker tableau of economic and environmental crisis to the difficulty of finding one another in the streets, the poems in Fortified Castles stage impasse after impasse, locating the Western subject between the ramparts it walks and the barricades it throws up.

ryan fitzpatrick is a poet and critic living in Vancouver currently doing doctoral work at Simon Fraser University. In addition to Fortified Castles, he is the author of one previous book of poetry - Fake Math (Snare, 2007) - as well as a dozen chapbooks. With Jonathan Ball, he is co-editor of the critical anthology Why Poetry Sucks: An Anthology of Humorous Experimental Canadian Poetry (Insomniac, 2014).

Why Poetry Sucks: An Anthology of Humorous Experimental Canadian Poetry
Edited by Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jonathan Ball

Despite a reputation for dead seriousness, poetry has a long relationship with humour, from Catullus’ complaints to Chaucer’s ribald tales to Kenneth Goldsmith’s appearance on The Colbert Report. Focusing on our contemporary moment, Why Poetry Sucks scrutinizes Canada’s poetic avant-gardes for signs of humorous life. Moving deftly between entertainment, attack, and critique, this poetry makes us laugh while making us wonder why we’re laughing at all. The authors in Why Poetry Sucks draw from deep traditions in both poetry and comedy, often challenging the rigid literary and political impasses they encounter. In our current social and cultural game of Blockado (the game of barricades), humour can act as an important sledge, taking a swing at the institutions and ideologies we might wish changed — all the while acknowledging, with bitter laughter and tongue in cheek, our apparent inability to change them. 

Ryan Fitzpatrick is a poet and critic living in Vancouver currently doing doctoral work at Simon Fraser University. He is the author of two books of poetry - Fake Math (Snare, 2007) and Fortified Castles (Talon, 2014) - as well as a dozen chapbooks. Jonathan Ball is a poet and critic living in Winnipeg. He is the author of three books of poetry - Ex Machina (Book Thug, 2009), Clockfire (Coach House, 2010), and The Politics of Knives (Coach House, 2012) - as well as a critical study John Paizs's Crime Wave (University of Toronto Press, 2014)