Author Tags: Poetry
Karen Solie's Pigeon (House of Anansi Press, 2009) received the $65,000 Griffin Poetry Prize in 2010 for Canadian poetry.
Karen Solie was born in Moose Jaw in 1966 and grew up on the family farm in southwest Saskatchewan. She has worked as a farm hand, an espresso jerk, a groundskeeper, a newspaper reporter/photographer, an academic research assistant, and an English teacher. Her poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in numerous North American journals, including The Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, Event, Indiana Review, ARC, Other Voices, and The Capilano Review. She has also had her poetry published in the anthologies Breathing Fire (Harbour, 1995), Hammer and Tongs (Smoking Lung, 1999) and Introductions: Poets Present Poets (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2001) where her work was presented by Brick Books' editor Don McKay: "Karen Solie's work reminds me that there is at the heart of metaphor a delicious amoral joy." One of her short stories was featured in The Journey Prize Anthology 12. Smoking Lung Press published her chapbook Eating Dirt. Solie resided in Victoria, British Columbia, as of 1993, then moved to Toronto prior to a stint at the University of Alberta as a writer in residence starting in September of 2004. She returned to live in Toronto, then moved to New Brunswick in 2006, with her partner David Seymour, to be writer in residence at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton for the 2006-2007 academic year.
Winner, 2002 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize; Nominee, 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize, 2002 Gerald Lampert Award, 2002 Relit Award
Winner, 2010 Griffin Poetry Prize for Canadian Poetry
Short Haul Engine (Brick Books, 2001)
Modern and Normal (Brick Books, 2005)
Pigeon (House of Anansi Press, 2009)
[BCBW 2010] "Poetry"
Short Haul Engine
"Karen Solie takes risks with perception and language, risks that pay off in such startling ways that it's hard to believe this is a first book. Short Haul Engine is one great twist of fate and fury after another. The writing is clear, striking and open to all sorts of possibilities. Even at their most playful, these poems dive much deeper than initially expected. There's a remarkably dark sense of humour at work here, but tempered with a haunting vulnerability that makes even the sharpest lines tremble."
from "Signs Taken for Wonders"
... Too delicate for these dog-days,
my sister sews indoors.
I ask her to fashion me
into something nice, ivory silk.
I am a big girl, sunburnt
skin like raw meat, sweating
two pews in front of the Blessed Virgin....
51/2 x 8-3/4 inches, 96 pages
ISBN: 1-894078-17-9 $14.00 2001 Poetry
-- from Brick Books
Griffin Poetry Prize Finalist
Press Release (2002)
In addition to the Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist, Karen Solie’s first book of poems, Short Haul Engine, also recently won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, sponsored by the B.C. Book Prizes. As well, the book is shortlisted for the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award, and for the National Magazine Award for poetry. Karen Solie’s poetry, fiction and non-fiction have appeared in numerous North American journals, including The Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, Event, Indiana Review, ARC, Other Voices, and The Capilano Review. She has also had her poetry published in the anthologies Breathing Fire (Harbour, 1995), Hammer and Tongs (Smoking Lung, 1999), and Introductions: Poets Present Poets (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2001) and one of her short stories featured in The Journey Prize Anthology 12. Born in Moose Jaw, Solie grew up on the family farm in southwest Saskatchewan. Over the years, she has worked as a farm hand, an espresso jerk, a groundskeeper, a newspaper reporter/photographer, an academic research assistant, and presently, an English teacher. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.
Karen Solie’s first book of poems, Short Haul Engine – a nice phrase for poetry – stood out for its mix of physical impressions, perceptual strength, and – especially – mental grace. A kind of liveliness, agility, connectivity. In “Early in Winter,” one of her many car poems, she writes: “feet cold, heart wagging its little tail.” Grief shows: “what is not in everything/ there is; and all/ it wants to talk about/ is you.” A monstrous old fish, a sturgeon, is hauled out of the water by some teenagers, but then, “… when he began to heave and thrash over yards of rock/ to the water’s edge and, unbelievably, in,/ we couldn’t hold him though we were teenaged/ and bigger than everything. Could not contain/ the old current he had for a mind, its pull,/ and his body a muscle called river, called spawn.”
There is toughness here, as well as grace. Often in her pages, we encounter wisdom of a severity that we would almost rather not know. A cold person is a different species; there is a dismal companionship in grief, the water stays in the fish, even when the fish is out of the water. Short Haul Engine is not just an exceptional debut, it is an exceptional book.