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The Chemical Life
The Chemical Life

The Chemical Life


88 Pages, 5.5 x 8.5

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $14.95 (US $14.95) (CA $17.95)

Publication Date: April 2018

ISBN 9781550654820

Rights: WOR X CA

Vehicule Press (Apr 2018)
Signal Editions

Price: $14.95


A new poetry collection by a prize-winning Canadian poet, Jim Johnstone

Praised for his darkly psychological accounts of extreme experiences, Jim Johnstone's fifth book of poems explores his most difficult terrain to date: mental illness and addiction. Like Coleridge's opium dreams, Johnstone's narratives are hallucinatory, colored by his use of both prescription and recreational drugs. Returning often to the notion of rival realities, Johnstone is brilliantly disruptive and disorientating—a poet whose savagely austere forms, electrically precise images, and keyed-up rhythms reveal an obsession with the mind-altering properties of language itself.


"Dog Ear poses personal impressions and collective questions – what we leave behind, if anything, in the physical world – by cultivating images and semi-narratives that are deeply, and sometimes, ridiculously human. In doing so, Johnstone's poems confidently confront love, death, and spectacle." —Brick: A Literary Journal on Dog Ear

"In many ways, Johnstone is a mysterious poet. The inner world of his poems is full of strange associations and dreamlike successions of images. It is a bold, skilful sort of poetry, and it makes one curious what canyons he will attempt in the years to come." —University of Toronto Quarterly on Dog Ear

"Johnstone's poetry is incredibly efficient; there are no wasted words. Both thematically and technically, there is a dirty edge to many of these poems, which gives them a raw and uncensored feel." —The New Quarterly on Dog Ear

Author Biography

Jim Johnstone is a Toronto-based poet, editor, and critic—author of four previous books of poetry: Dog Ear, Sunday, the locusts, Patternicity, and The Velocity of Escape. He's also the winner of several awards including a CBC Literary Award, The Fiddlehead's Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize, and Poetry's Editors Prize for Book Reviewing.