Cover: If I Didn’t Love the River: Poems by Robert Priest

If I Didn’t Love the River: Poems

Priest, Robert

  • In this virtuoso display of sonnets, free verse, prose poems, villanelles, ghazals, and aphorisms, People’s Poet Robert Priest makes it clear why the Pacific Rim Review has called him “surely the most imaginatively inventive poet in the country.” A profound meditation on love, death, sex, and sickness, If I Didn’t Love the River speaks directly to the polarizations of our time. Priest’s mastery of dark satire, lyric ebullience, erotic verse, and the pithy maxim is as gratifying as it is unique and will appeal to the yearning for poetry, which so often goes unsatisfied in the reading public. No emotional territory — from angst, anger, anguish, and despair to whimsical delight — is off-limits here. Intent on releasing reverberations from the full depths and heights of what it is to be human, this is Robert Priest at his protean best.


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  • Robert Priest’s words have been debated in the legislature, posted on buses, quoted in the Farmers’ Almanac, and turned into a hit song. His book Reading the Bible Backwards peaked at number two on the Canadian poetry charts, outsold only by Leonard Cohen. He lives in Toronto, ON.

  • Published: September 2022

    ISBN: 9781770416949

    Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.

    Pages: 136

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“There are few poets who can articulate love, loss and the political like Priest. And certainly not in one book. The core of his work is to make connections, to underscore the way words echo other words and how inhuman affections and the need for justice form the basis for human bonds.” — Marrow Reviews blog

“Throughout the book, Priest blends politics and love, formalist work with free verse, and Romanticism with post-modernism. There is something in there for old and new fans of his work, and he gets his message across with much musicality and little proselytizing.” — FreeFall Magazine

“There are many sublime moments in this collection and I am grateful to have discovered Robert Priest’s work. I loved the words and the rollercoaster rhythm Priest imposes on them. Once you ‘get’ his poetry, it gets you too and won’t let go … Priest utilises many styles and poetical forms with a cornucopia of themes and images; the results are sometimes delicate, often brutal, but always stunning.” — Kid Ferrous Reviews blog

“[Robert Priest’s] poetry is still as energetic, audacious, and wild as it ever was, a fact reaffirmed by If I Didn’t Love the River, his most recent collection.” — The New Quarterly

“The emotional spin of his verse ranges from love to distaste, he writes in both free verse and traditional forms, and his topics are either hugely uplifting or deeply disturbing … both daring and delicate, beautiful and sometimes beastly in its truth telling.” — The Artisanal Writer blog

“One line summary? Hell yeah. Some poets show emotion, some language, other’s technique or flashes of insight and he has the whole spread.” — The Miramichi Reader