Trillium Book Award–winning poet Adam Sol’s newest collection is made up of poems that are loosely linked to the traditional Jewish morning prayers, the Birkhot haShachar, which try to find moments of blessing in the midst of personal and public pain, shame, and worry
How do we respond to others’ pain, both the pain of those we love and the larger global pain of those we don’t know? In a religious context, a witness can offer blessing when those in the midst of suffering cannot. Taking on the responsibility of blessing, then, is a way to shoulder that burden for the sufferer. This presupposes the idea that blessing is a necessity — which may be a point up for debate.
In the context of his wife’s recovery from surgery, and with civic violence prevalent in his city, the speaker of these poems leans on the structure of the Birkhot haShachar (dawn blessings) to carve out space for empathy, complaint, and occasional flashes of wonder. These poems showcase Sol’s trademark blend of humor and lyric virtuosity, and display his familiarity with Jewish texts and traditions, but add a new intimacy and urgency that break new ground for one of Canada’s most respected poets. It is his most risky and most accomplished collection to date.
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Adam Sol has published four previous books of poetry, and one collection of essays, How a Poem Moves: A Field Guide for Readers of Poetry. He is the Coordinator of the Creative Expression & Society Program at the University of Toronto’s Victoria College. He lives in Toronto, Ontario
Published: September 2021
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.
“This vulnerable, heartbreaking, witty, kind, sometimes angry, and always honest book masterfully and generously intertwines private and public concerns. As his beloved ‘drifts from room to room,’ recovering from cancer surgery, the speaker goes deeper into his own mind, to find poems that do the necessary work of clarifying our complexities. This book is a treasure for all of us as we struggle and love.” — Matthew Zapruder, author of Why Poetry and Father’s Day
“Through the framework of a beloved’s illness and a city’s violence, these poems meet head-on forces both private and public that threaten vitality and well-being. They are offerings at the doorway of pain, insights of ferocious tenderness given with committed attention to the extraordinary and the everyday. Deeply felt and rendered with care, Adam Sol’s poem-blessings are honest, risky, and necessary.” — Raymond Souster Award shortlist announcement
“In your hand is a manifest of wrecked words haunting a city’s fratricidal concerns. What is true of impermanence and grief in these dawns are lucid doors that aim to breach the need of a world wrinkled by violence and fear. But, also, here is awe.” — Canisia Lubrin, winner of the Windham Campbell and Griffin Poetry Prizes and author of The Dyzgraphxst
“This is a masterful work searching personal and public pain and moments of blessing, joy, and wonder. It showcases Adam Sol’s deep understanding of Jewish traditions and culture while its lyric virtuosity connects us in an appreciation of our shared humanity. With this volume, he again proves himself to be an important voice in Canada’s literary scene and one of its most significant poets.” — Canadian Jewish Literary Awards winner announcement