Leaving the Island
St. Kilda is a barren, rocky archipelago 60 km off the west coast of Scotland. In 1930, harsh conditions led the islands’ remaining 36 inhabitants to relocate to the mainland. Left behind were seabirds and a population of feral sheep. In Leaving the Island, her first poetry collection, Talya Rubin enters the isolated lives of those last Kildareans, and probes the “desert places”—to use Frost’s phrase—in herself. Written during a series of extended trips abroad, including stays in Australia and Greece, Rubin’s poems return, again and again, to a psychological landscape where “mud and rock / and sea and salt and oily smell / of fish and fowl is all, all.” Rife with exacting wordplay and frank self-reckonings, Leaving the Island is a book about endings and what remains when we start over.
The Scarborourgh takes place over three days in 1992: Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday—the weekend 15-year-old Kristin French was abducted and murdered by Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. In poems both opulent and stricken, ravishing and unflinching, Michael Lista—nine, at the time—revisits those dates, haunted by the horrifying facts he now possesses. Inspired, in part, by Dante’s Inferno, Virgil's tale of Orpheus’ descent into the underworld for Eurydice, as well as the Bernardo trial itself—where the judge ruled that the gallery could hear the video tapes of the crimes, but not see them—Lista’s poems adhere to a single rule: you cannot gaze at the beloved you seek to rescue. The Scarborourgh is book about Bernardo that doesn’t show us Bernardo, a conceptual project that ignores its concept. Shiveringly bold, it is a major achievement.
Praise for Bloom:
"There aren't many Canadian books of poetry that are anticipated with quite so much excitement as Michael Lista's debut, which has been the talk of the town for some time. But the book outpaces the expectations even of those kindly disposed to it.”—Quill and Quire (which named Bloom a Book of the Year)
“Lista has here brought together potent ingredients, at once harmonious and dissonant, in a container with metal enough to withstand blasts from poems being split apart and reincarnated.”—The Globe and Mail
“A brilliant, erudite new voice on the Canadian poetry scene."—Montreal Gazette
Clear-eyed, musical, deeply-considered and deeply-felt, Radio Weather contends with the inhospitable. Bringing both child and adult perspectives to bear, it calls to account both the living and the dead. Brilliantly-crafted and wise, occupying a provisional space that is both wary and compassionate, somewhere ‘between what we didn’t want and what we could afford,’ these are poems of great psychological tension, poems for grown ups.–Patrick Warner