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Wednesday January 5, 2011 in Books


By Cecily Nicholson

In a world where the corporate iron fist clad in the velvet glove of the state has appropriated all that is authentic and authoritative in language, there seems little left for us to say to each other. Yet against the determination of borders, capital, criminalization and violence, stigmatized bodies also remember patterns, history, possibility and solidarity. Triage attempts an ordered, critical response to the surges of overlapping ­manufactured crises that perpetuate the conditions and symptoms of our public and private disentitlements.

Drawing on the increasingly marginalized and criminalized language of protest and resistance, these poems present a polyvocal narrative of human communities struggling at the brutal margins of the neoliberalized state. Triage acknowledges and legitimizes dialogical practices of organizing for food, shelter, mobility, access and voice grounded in a global network of specific communities and movements. It addresses the resilience of people refusing disposability in these highly contested zones; articulates their commonalities in their struggle to take back the garish interventions of commercial language and enterprise in their lives.

The routes to the urban centre from rural, suburban and reserve communities are shared experiences articulated by many of the poems’ characters—their displacement has concentrated and “naturalized” their entrenchment in the ghetto—turned habit and need into specific areas of surveillance, where low income means risk, focusing primarily on the particular conditions of women caught in the everyday grind at the mercy of the propertied.

Accustomed to framing that simultaneously victimizes as it offers assistance, Triage acknowledges a powerful legacy of women’s creative resistance to everyday physical and systemic violence. It understands the costs and remembers the losses as it sorts through the rubble of ­language to salvage a redefinition of beauty and reify a meaningful ­aesthetics. After loss, hurt, survival and recovery, more is warranted, and more is coming.

ISBN 13: 9780889226579 | ISBN 10: 889226571
6 W x 9 H inches | 96 pages
$16.95 CAN / $16.95 US
Rights: World
Backlist | Poetry | Bisac: POE011000, POE000000
Paperback Edition


"anything can happen in the space that Cecily Nicholson opens in triage: disasters, miracles, resistance and arpillera right before your eyes. urgent, broken, and indomitable, this book invites us to restructure our systems of perception so that we can see and acknowledge what is otherwise overlooked, devalued, deliberately forgotten. in the face of contemporary crisis, this is a poetry that is merciless in its courage and generosity, steadfast in its spaciousness and precision. this is the heart of
vancouver, beating bravely in the tent village, attesting to daily poverty, daily ingenuity, refusing to be distracted by imperial delirium."
—Rita Wong

“Triage ‘terrible mischief’ or ‘hors de combat’ po-ethics precede a city stroll shift shank into political ‘tarbaby cosmetic’ tango. so there is relentless resistant ­vision visit of ‘heartless ecology’ that ‘suck city’ is. Cecily Nicholson’s playful ­precision poetry will get you off that ‘fiscal sofa’ urbanal sprawl right into ‘morning after Vancouver’ impact passionate ‘breastbone attitude.’ right on! ‘arrest this system’!"
—Marie Annharte

About the Contributors

Cecily Nicholson

Cecily Nicholson, from small-town Ontario via Toronto and South Bend, relocated to the Pacific coast almost two decades ago. On Musqueam-, Squamish-, and Tsleil-Waututh-occupied lands known as Vancouver, she has worked, since 2000, in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, most recently as administrator for the artist-run centre and mental health resource, Gallery Gachet. A part of the Joint Effort prison abolitionist group and a member of the Research Ethics Board for Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Cecily was also the 2017 Ellen Warren Tallman Writer in Residence at Simon Fraser University. She is the author of Triage and From the Poplars, winner of the 2015 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize.

Wayside Sang

Cecily Nicholson

From the Poplars cover
From the Poplars

Cecily Nicholson


Cecily Nicholson

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