On the MaterialFront Cover

ISBN: 9780889226326 | paperback / softback

$17.95 | 128 pages | Pub. Date: 2010
6.00 W × 9.00 H × .3 D inches
Poetry | Backlist | Bisac: POE011000
ISBN 13: 9780889226326 | Rights: WORLD

Structured in three parts, On the Material is a meditation on language, geography, socio-economics and the body, moving from the glut of fossil-fuelled consumer excess to the materiality of a single book.

Composed almost entirely of quatrains (each page being comprised of four four-line stanzas) and written while travelling through North America in 2008, “4 × 4” navigates issues of space and movement in the global age. As economies crumble, ecosystems fail and peak oil approaches, Collis records the production of a disarticulation of social discourse that our consumer society has generated: “After all we made money out of matter here / Now condos shield us from the computer hum / Of on-line trading and wars ?ash on ?at screens / As 4 × 4s cool and ping mud covered in double garages.”

In its bridging second section, “I Fought the Lyric and the Lyric Won,” the desire to express wins out over the desire to possess. Beauty, contemplation and human communication seem to have abandoned the world, and their absence from the everyday has re-engaged the poet’s struggle with language—has left a need to reinvent human discourse and its attendant relations.

The third section, “Gail’s Books,” is a sequence of poems in memory of Stephen Collis’s sister, Gail Tulloch. A month after Gail’s death from cancer in 2002, a ?re destroyed her house, removing every material reminder of her from the earth. All that remained was one book recovered from a pool of water in the ruins after the ?re. Dried in the air, this book, and those Collis had previously borrowed from his sister, become a way for the poet to read back into the elemental heart of absence and loss—the “material” of the books displacing, and in some way recovering, how language holds the materiality of the physical world.

Winner 2011 BC Book Prize: Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize

By Stephen Collis

Stephen Collis is the author of five books of poetry, including the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize winning On the Material (Talonbooks, 2010) and three parts of the on-going “Barricades Project”: Anarchive (New Star, 2005), The Commons (Talonbooks, 2008, 2014), and To the Barricades (Talonbooks, 2013). An activist and social critic, his writing on the Occupy movement is collected in Dispatches from the Occupation (Talonbooks, 2012).

Read more about Stephen Collis


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news | 2011-06-08
Bring it Home, Vancouver!

…at 7:30pm, Stephen Collis will read from his book On the Material, recent winner of the Dorothy Livesay Prize for …


news | 2011-04-27
Weather-Permitting, Poetry is in Bloom in BC!

…My Darling Nellie Grey, and Stephen Collis for On the Material. (Stephen, Gina, and Gary – All Aboard for … had won the Dorothy Livesay Prize for Poetry for On the Material! (Stephen Collis accepting his BC Book Prize. …


news | 2011-04-22
On the Material Wins 2011 BC Book Prize for Poetry!

…won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for his book On the Material! Structured in three parts, On the Material is a …


news | 2011-04-07
BC Book Prizes Northern Leg 2011 Kicks Off Tonight!

…for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for On the Material. …


news | 2011-03-10
Three Talonbooks Poets are Finalists for B.C. Book Prize for Poetry

…Darling Nellie Grey (Talonbooks) Stephen Collis, On the Material (Talonbooks) Jen Currin, The Inquisition Yours …


news | 2010-09-23
Mapping the Rainy City on a Sunday

…locality, including Mine, The Commons, and On the Material. His ongoing collection, “The Barricades …


news | 2010-05-14
Talon Spring Launch at the Edmonton Poetry Festival

…were visibly moved when Stephen Collis read from On the Material, including his outstandingly profound poem …


news | 2010-05-14
Talonbooks Spring Poetry Launch in Calgary

…his structuralist poems about social excess in On the Material, even going so far as to imitate the voice of an …


news | 2010-05-08
Talon Spring Poetry Night in Vancouver

…rhetorical nuances. Then Steve Collis read from On the Material, bringing emotion and form to corporate regard …


events | 2012-10-26
Adeena Karasick and Stephen Collis at Zinc Bar, New York

…(New Star, 2005), The Commons (Talonbooks, 2008), On the Material (Talonbooks, 2010—awarded the BC Book Prize for …


events | 2010-04-29
Talon’s 2010 Cross-Canada Poetry Tour: Vancouver

…in the “4 × 4” section of his new book, On the Material . Among our new titles are two poetry books of a …


events | 2010-04-27
Talon's 2010 Cross-Canada Poetry Tour: Calgary

…in the “4 × 4” section of his new book, On the Material . Among our new titles are two poetry books of a …


events | 2010-04-22
Talon’s 2010 Cross-Canada Poetry Tour: Edmonton Poetry Festival

…in the “4 × 4” section of his new book, On the Material . Among our new titles are two poetry books of a …