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From growing up in a fishing village on the banks of the Fraser River in British Columbia, to being confined at a Japanese Canadian internment camp during the Second World War, to helping build the Distant Early Warning Line in the Canadian Arctic during the height of the Cold War, 1 Hour Photo ’s Mas Yamamoto is a grand theatrical persona, his life saturated with the most vivid colours of our times.
_Almost Islands _ is a powerfully introspective memoir of the author’s friendship with legendary Canadian poet Phyllis Webb – now in her nineties and long enveloped in silence – and his regular trips to see her. It is an extended meditation on literary ambition and failure, poetry and politics, choice and chance, location, colonization, and climate change – the struggle that is writing, and the end of writing.
I go to see her because she is poetry’s old crone and I am seeking. I go to her – usually three, four times a year – because it is a small ministration I can perform for her, and for her poetry, as she slowly reaches into the finite – a long, slow embrace of nothing … If living is a process of learning how to die, then is writing a process of learning how to stop writing? I go in search of lost words, in search of the hoped-for defence against the loss of words, drawn to the shaping sounds of fate and mortality.
A meticulous collection of poetic, political, and philosophical digressions, Almost Islands weaves numerous themes together. At its crux lies a literary project: to build upon and extend Webb’s exposition of a “poetic” sense of the political, by proposing a political agent, the “Biotariat,” a government of Life, that is both human and more than human – arrived at after following as many pathways as possible through Webb’s own reading and thought. Ultimately, Almost Islands is a book obsessed with the problem of Webb’s not writing, and the implications of this for a writer like Collis who, in his own words, may be writing “too much” – as well as the wider social, political, and world-historical implications of withdrawal, self-silencing, and not-doing.
Patiently assembling disparate points of view, those of the young, the old, the families, the couples, or the lonely souls, this novel, replete with emotive twists and turns, probes the failures and hopes of a whole segment of society, revealing the proximity of past traumas.
Comprised of two lines of poetic text flowing along a 114-foot-long map of the Columbia River, this powerful image-poem by acclaimed poets Fred Wah and Rita Wong presents language yearning to understand the consequences of our hydroelectric manipulation of one of North America’s largest river systems.
Checking In comprises a long poem and a series of other post-conceptual pieces – concrete poems, homolinguistic translations, Yiddish aphorisms – that offer exuberant commentary on the timelessness of digital information and our ravenous appetite for data and connection.
By Edward Byrne
Edward Byrne’s Duets consists of interpretative translations of sonnets by Louise Labé, who lived and wrote in sixteenth-century Lyon, and those by thirteenth-century Florentine Guido Cavalcanti.
By Susan Crean
Susan Crean’s memoir Finding Mr. Wong chronicles her effort to piece together the life of the man she knew as Mr. Wong, cook and housekeeper to her Irish Canadian family for two generations. Crean’s exploration also considers memory and its role in the writing and researching of a book such as this.
By Roy Miki
A stunning collection from Governor General’s Award winner Roy Miki, Flow presents all of this critically acclaimed writer’s poetry – from his collections Saving Face, Random Access File, Surrender, There, and Mannequin Rising – as well as a substantial chapter of new, previously unpublished works.
By Joan MacLeod
Gracie is a dramatic monologue telling the story of a girl raised in a fundamentalist community that transports child brides between polygamist communities in both Canada and the United States.
This biography of George Bowering, first Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate, reveals the intimate, intellectual, and artistic life of one of Canada’s most prolific authors, offering an inside look at the people and events at the centre of the country’s literary and artistic avant-garde from the 1960s to the present.
Among the first by a writer with Down syndrome, these two plays demonstrate an ability to riff and shift perspective, with disarming, hilarious, and occasionally heart-stopping results. Based on the iconic stories of King Arthur and Peter Pan, they are modern-day mash-ups that meld the fictional, the meta-fictional, and the real in ways that are counter-intuitive and absurd. And they’re musical!
Kuei, My Friend is an engaging book of letters: a literary and political encounter between Innu poet Natasha Kanapé Fontaine and Québécois-American novelist Deni Ellis Béchard. Choosing the epistolary form, they decided to engage together in a frank conversation about racism and reconciliation.
By Mercedes Eng
Mercenary English is a risky and profoundly unsettling work of “auto-cartography” that documents the struggles and politics of everyday life in Vancouver, with a particular focus on the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. Talonbooks is pleased to publish this third edition, which includes the original long poem, the essay and interview from the second edition, and a new preface by the author.
By Jovanni Sy
Set in 1920s Hong Kong, Nine Dragons is a hard-boiled detective fiction with a twist: an inquisition into colonialism, racism, assimilation, and the clash of cultures. It’s the classic mystery/detective genre overlaid with the topical issue of identity – a struggle that any person of colour faces in any society that privileges whiteness.
In this companion to Governor General’s Award finalists Discovery Passages and Prairie Harbour, Garry Thomas Morse resumes his expansionist mapping of lyrical consciousness onto geographical concerns, acknowledging the unsettled edges of an imaginary territory.
Wanda John-Kehewin uses writing as a therapeutic medium to understand and respond to the near-decimation of First Nations cultures and traditions
Sir John A: Acts of a Gentrified Ojibway Rebellion is a powerful satire, a creative debate about the past violences of colonial racism and the as yet untested potentiality of restoring harmony between Peoples in Canada.
The two one-act plays in Talker’s Town and The Girl Who Swam Forever are set in a small northern B.C. mill town in the 1960s. They portray identical characters and action from entirely different gender and cultural perspectives. In many ways, the two separate works are inter-related coming-of-age stories, with transformation as a key theme.
By Kevin Loring
Nan’s family is home for Thanksgiving, but some unsolicited truths are about to be dropped at the dinner table. Old wounds and new realities collide, and sibling rivalry is stoked, but the enduring spirit that guides this family charges on, ever fierce. Thanks for Giving offers plenty to chew on.
By Daryl Cloran
Cloran’s play is the stage adaptation of the award-winning novel by Gail Anderson-Dargatz. Set in Turtle Valley (near Kamloops, British Columbia) in the shadow of the Second World War, The Cure for Death by Lightning tells a dark, challenging story that includes sexual abuse, grief, and the day-to-day struggle for survival.
Combining visuals and text, this collection of poems travels through territories as varied as daily and domestic activities; social relationships; literature, cinema, and art; as well as dreams, as it moves between the page and the exhibition.
Set between 1913 and 1963 in one of Montreal’s upper-middle-class, suburban neighbourhoods, Martine Desjardins’s The Green Chamber is a riveting, fast-paced, highly atmospheric novel that chronicles the decline of a wealthy French-Canadian family over the course of three generations.
The Mystery Play, a supernatural chiller of rattling cupboards, overnight séances, and spectral possessions, reveals a new definition of “mystery” – one derived from the Mystery Plays of sister Salter’s dwindling faith – in which the word can also mean a miracle beyond all logic.
How might poetic practices undermine racist ideologies and colonialism, engendering ecological attentiveness, and anomalous and compassionate communities? Christine Stewart’s Treaty 6 Deixis takes up these timely and pressing questions as it investigates what it means to be a non-Indigenous inhabitant of Canada’s Treaty 6 territory
Fevered and dreamlike, White offers readers a poignant re-entry into the haunting and psychologically complex world of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
August 12, 2018, is Buy a Quebec Book Day. Celebrate by purchasing a recent Talonbooks book in translation!Friday July 27, 2018 in Meta-Talon
Next year marks the tenth anniversary of Fred Wah’s is a door : to celebrate, Talon takes a look back at how the book got its name.Thursday March 8, 2018 in Meta-Talon
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked our staff to recommend favourite Talon books that they felt contributed to the advancement of women and to the feminist literary canon.Tuesday February 6, 2018 in Meta-Talon
By Carl Peters
On Meta-Talon today, please enjoy the full text of the presentation given by Carl Peters at the Modern Languages Association convention in New York City on January 7, 2018. This talk responds to the question posed in the MLA convention session Rhetoric in Post-Factual Times: how to perform textual analysis in a time when facts are no longer the marker of good argumentation. (Peters’s talk is also related to his work on Stein; Peters is recently the author of Studies in Description: Reading Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons.)
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