Wonder and Kindness: Susan Elmslie and Stephanie Bolster

Tuesday, September 24, 2019 17:00to19:00
Atwater Library, 1200 Atwater Ave, Westmount, QC, H3Z 1X4, CA

Date: 24 September, 2019, 5:00 - 7:00 PM

Location: Atwater Library

Please join Poetry Matters for a reading with Montreal poets Stephanie Bolster and Susan Elmslie, featuring recent work.

Susan Elmslie’s second collection is Museum of Kindness (2017), shortlisted for the Quebec Writers’ Federation A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry. Her first trade collection, I, Nadja, and Other Poems (2006) won the Quebec Writers’ Federation A.M. Klein Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the McAuslan First Book Prize, the League of Canadian Poets’ Pat Lowther Memorial Award and a ReLit Award. Her poems have also appeared in several Canadian journals, anthologies, and in a prize-winning chapbook, When Your Body Takes to Trembling (Cranberry Tree, 1996). Elmslie teaches at Dawson College in Montreal.

Stephanie Bolster’s White Stone: The Alice Poems won the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award in 1998, and Two Bowls of Milk (1999) received the Archibald Lampman Award. A Page from the Wonders of Life on Earth (2012), was a finalist for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Work from Long Exposure, her manuscript-in-progress, was a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012. Bolster teaches creative writing at Concordia University in Montreal.

On some of Elmslie’s and Bolster’s work:

[Bolster’s] A Page from The Wonders of Life on Earth is a book with a coherent vision of nature—constructed or framed, both in the present and in the recent past—through zoos, aviaries, formal gardens, menageries… Informed by the author’s grand tour of … zoos and gardens, these poems provide a strong lens for considering the many paradoxes of inter-species relations; they open up the possibility of honest, unsentimental elegy. The book is … a model of what might be called investigative poetry, taking the poet’s combination of perceptual acuity, craft, music and sensibility into these richly troubled places (prisons of, monuments to, museums for the lost natural world) where “arcades sell postcards of old photographs of the arcades,” and where questions of what it means to be human, to be animal, to be other and to be art are tangibly in the air.


Museum of Kindness, Montreal poet Susan Elmslie's searching second collection of poetry, is a book that bravely examines "genres" familiar and hard to fathom: the school shooting, PTSD, raising a child who has a disability. It is a collection about thresholds big and small. In poems grounded in the domestic and in workaday life, poems burnished by silence and the weight of the unspoken, poems by turns ironic and sincere, Elmslie asks "What, exactly, is / unthinkable?" Confronted by "the mismatch / between our need for meaning / and our inability to find it," the poet reflects on the possibility of the miraculous in hard-won insights, in "a comparatively / uncomplicated joy."



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