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An Out-of-Body Lyric


148 Pages, 5.75 x 8.5

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $16.00 (US $16.00)

Publication Date: May 2021

ISBN 9781989496299

Rights: US

Wolsak and Wynn Publishers Ltd (May 2021)

Price: $16.00


In Aether Catherine Graham has created a luminous homage to family, to cancer and to the strange windings of truth. Swimming through time and space, Graham introduces her mother, her father and herself and the cancers that pull them apart and bring them together. Memories mesh with visitations and multiple stories unfold of pain and loss, hidden tragedy, forgiveness and growth. With an otherworldly delicacy Graham stitches it all together to create a book-length lyric essay of lingering and profound beauty, a paean to the complexity of love and survival.


"An impressive new collection, The Celery Forest is both powerful and beautiful, a work of great fortitude and invention, full of jewel-like moments and dark gnomic utterance. It faces into the dark and finds a way through." — Michael Longley, author of The Stairwell and Angel Hill

"Here are poems that speak with originality, a point which is not from earth or heaven, not real or surreal. I call it in abeyance. It's a smart distance, very intriguing and elegant. It's like being inside a paleontological museum. Not because of the age of the species exposed there but the mystery reflected in an isolated space. Graham mystifies the ordinary and demystifies the rare. The Celery Forest is a wild book with all its physical and metaphysical fears and tastes of absurdity. Lines like 'anonymity is no worry,' 'harmony is only a hair's breadth away from real life,' 'her missing foot–it shows me where the rain fits,' 'an animal—somewhere—inside another animal's throat' are striking and I am not going to forget them. Undefined, ambiguous as in a dream, difficult to understand who, where and what, the elements seem to be projected from a source outside. It's a special psychological position, more than a stylistic choice, bringing a new order and re-dimensioning of things." —Luljeta Lleshanaku, author of the Griffin Poetry Prize Shorlisted Book Negative Space (Bloodaxe Books), translated by Ani Gjika

"Graham has transmuted the terrors of an encounter with cancer … into pure art that is fierce, true and unsullied by platitudes and truisms … a rare and extraordinary creation …The Celery Forest is a volume of poems wrought mainly in language that (like the language of Wallace Stevens, for example) is brilliantly and intriguingly circuitous." —P. W. Bridgman, Glasgow Review of Books

"The Celery Forest is a fantastical world with strange creatures and disorienting sights. Within the poetry collection's magical imagery is the examination of Catherine Graham's recent bout with breast cancer; the novelist and poet uses sensual language and style that peers into the duality of beauty and horror." —CBC Books, The Best Canadian Poetry of 2017

"Such dark and disquieting poems…such language: snowfall–'spin calm into a bleach explosion' 'the waves/ lap against me, sizzling white strings.' And 'Ceramic!' The muse, here, is the rampaging bull in the china shop crèche: 'and the stiff baby cries in ceramic. Now black is a crack below/ blue-robed Mary who screams she'll eat your hair with fluorescent teeth.' Things are infused with feelings, from the turbulent depths where we are prey to all that eats at us– 'we, walking meals for mosquitoes.' So stringent and startling, the seamless way the borrowed images burrow and find an unsettling home." —Eleanor Wilner, The Girl with Bees in Her Hair  

Author Biography

Catherine Graham is an award-winning, internationally published, Toronto-based novelist and poet. Her sixth poetry collection, The Celery Forest, was named a CBC Best Book of the Year and was a finalist for the Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry. Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insect was a finalist for the Raymond Souster Poetry Award and the CAA Poetry Award; and her debut novel, Quarry, won an Independent Publisher Book Awards gold medal for fiction, “The Very Best!” Book Awards for Best Fiction and was a finalist for the Sarton Women’s Book Award for Contemporary Fiction and Fred Kerner Book Award. She teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto where she won an Excellence in Teaching Award. A previous winner of TIFA’s Poetry NOW, she currently leads their monthly Book Club. @catgrahampoet