Wayside SangFront Cover

ISBN: 9781772011821 | paperback / softback

$16.95 | 128 pages | Pub. Date: 2017
5.5 W × 8.5 H × .75 D inches
Poetry | Backlist | Bisac: POE011000
ISBN 13: 9781772011821 | Rights: WORLD

Wayside Sang concerns entwined migrations of Black-other diaspora coming to terms with fossil-fuel psyches in times of trauma and movement. This is a poetic account of economy travel on North American roadways, across Peace and Ambassador bridges and through the Fleetway tunnel, above and beneath Great Lake rivers between nation states. Nicholson reimagines the trajectories of her birth father and his labour as it criss-crossed these borders in a study that engages the automobile object, its industry, roadways and hospitality, through and beyond the Great Lakes region.


Engaging a range of discursive fields to form the metrics of this project, she is interested in the intersection of various artistic practices and how being in relation to them can lend dimension to page and text-based efforts. Consider Charles Campbell’s Transporter project, begun initially as a visual investigation of the phenomenon of forced migration, or Camille Turner’s various “sonic walks” which present narratives that explore the complexities of Black life in Canada amid a “landscape of forgetting” Black history, and Khari McClelland’s embrace of music as a “transportation device” uncovering the experiences of fugitive Blacks crossing into Canada and a breadth of practice concerning borders and movement.


This book was once in the fields and frequented bars. It rolls out of factories onto roads travelling north across the border and returning again to some understanding of home. There are passengers and possessions – travelling musicians – memories of the Caribbean – brothers determined by border crossings – daughters reassembled.

Winner 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award for English-Language Poetry

"The strife between strife and its other has a content all its own in this fucked up world, where we have to live the unliveable. That dialectic is irreducible. The necessity of pleasure is irreducible especially when and because it seems obscene. Poetry is suppose to show that, even more than it’s supposed to remark upon that and Cecily Nicholson’s work does this at the highest level of intensity! Wayside Sang ’s wayward swing makes small, pulsing disunities of pulse like the muffled but still multiphonic heartbeat of the earth. The song of the earth, old and new, is sung at a place by the side of the road. Wayside’s social logic sang this then and now, on edge and over it, underneath and inside outskirts of the city where we stay and the commune that we follow."
—Fred Moten, Author of A Poetics of the Undercommons

“Cecily Nicholson’s poetry expresses a deep solidarity extended across time and space, and across divisions between the human and nonhuman, animate and inanimate. … Wayside Sang is a book of road poetry, a text in modern mechanized movement across “landscapes built for cars.” … This is a border-erasing poetry … The history of racialized oppression is obviously complex enough on its own; work like Nicholson’s nevertheless sends us out to imagine both the deepest possible structures and extensions of human alienation, as well as the most personally affective forms such oppressions can take. Poetry is all the better off for the challenge of this work — for both its love, and for its lunacy.”
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"As if one poem was the sum of one hundred minds, Nicholson’s poetry seems like it should not be possible. Should not be possible, yet she shows us how words can reveal the clock parts of a steel beam or silences of a carpet bomb. Within a short run, she pulls off impossible internal harmonies of definition and image. Reinventions of logic, reinventions of scale, reinventions of blues and jazz run triumphantly through this masterpiece. Nicholson’s poetry is the confidence of a people who stand against oppressors, and can declare that all prophets belong to us."
—Tongo Eisen-Martin, Author of Heaven Is All Goodbyes

By 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.

Read more about Cecily Nicholson


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news | 2018-10-30
Cecily Nicholson's Wayside Sang Wins a GG!

…Cecily Nicholson’s complex, sensitive book Wayside Sang has won the Governor General’s Literary … Poetry! Huge congratulations to Cecily! Of Wayside Sang, the judges said “In this hypnotic suite of … poetry community at large. Pick up your copy of Wayside Sang today! …


news | 2017-10-24
New poetry in the house!

…Industrial Complex Explodes by Mercedes Eng Wayside Sang by Cecily Nicholson Reveries of a Solitary Biker …