A simultaneously gorgeous and gut-wrenching tribute to a lost companion.

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A sharp outpouring of grief in free verse.

Dunlop is a Canadian poet, novelist, and singer/songwriter based in Toronto. In this single, long poem, she reflects on the passing of fellow poet Raymond Souster, the precious time that they spent together during the last decade of his life, and the deceased poet’s painful absence, which is, paradoxically, a kind of presence. The book’s open structure, including sporadic empty spaces, allows Dunlop to trace the nonlinear, fragmented paths of mourning. As she asserts in her customarily plain yet evocative language: “Your many last words / are memory maps.” Addressing Ray directly, she shows how his verbal legacy remains a part of her life in the form of reclaimed speech: “ ‘Carry On Canada’ / I heard myself say today, / your phrase, your voice / giving you back to me.” Likewise, visual reminders can catch her off guard, as seen in the breathless quality conveyed by these short lines: “Today it was / an old man / bundled against / the cold March wind / in his wheelchair / being pushed / across the intersection / that took me by the throat / as I sat safely / inside the hard shell / of my car.” Everyone has emotional defense mechanisms, Dunlop implies, and no one is immune from sorrow. She’s able to balance these universal themes with elements that are particular to her lived experience, as in how she refers to Ray as “little sparrow” or “tender sparrow” throughout the text. At the end of the poem, she suggests that writing is not just a way to memorialize, but also an act of survival. Dunlop envisions her own mortality (“the big silence / will swallow me whole”) as a way to reunite with Ray in some form. Anyone who’s watched a loved one fade away will be able to connect with this accessible, plainspoken poetry.

A simultaneously gorgeous and gut-wrenching tribute to a lost companion.

Pub Date: Dec. 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9938210-2-8

Page Count: 87

Publisher: Contact Press Toronto

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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