2019

2018 has been packed with excitement at Vallum!

We launched Vallum: Contemporary Poetry issues 15:1 “Memory and Loss” and 15:2 “The Chase.” We also published Zach Pearl’s chapbook Ladybird Bug Boy, a meditation on the process of identitymaking , and Thurston Moore & John Kinsella’s chapbook The Weave, which sketches the scenes of a world in decay, leaving us to ask: is it too late to save ourselves? Read more about the chapbooks here.

Evan J won our 2018 Award for Poetry with “BLOOR-YONGE.” The second place winner was brad bradley for his poem “Lake Activity,” and an honourable mention was awarded to Robert Colman’s “Middle Distance.”

Other highlights include a chapbook workshop in partnership with the Quebec Writers’ Federation, and the Toronto launch of Ladybird Bug Boy and The Weave at Loop Gallery. We organized or attended 25 literary events, fairs, and conferences in Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa, and hosted outreach workshops with new facilitators and partners.

To end off the year, we asked past contributors to share what they read in 2018 as well as what is on their lists going forward.

Here’s what some of the writers in Issue 15:2 said (and check out Part One of our Year in Review from 15:1 poets):


Hugh Anderson

Hugh Anderson

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
ndncountry, an anthology of indigenous writing, published jointly by CV2 and Prairie Fire. Featuring the work of 55 indigenous writers from across this country, the book continually surprises with the power of the voices contained therein. Bonus feature: 16 colour plates of the work from the INSURGENCE/RESURGENCE exhibition at Winnipeg Art Gallery.  It’s on my Christmas giving list this year.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Winona Linn: “Knock-Off Native.”  The piece itself may not be new, but it’s on fire.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
Shane Nielsen – I’ll start with Margin of Interest  and work back – for both the mental health and the medical perspective. Karl Shapiro – recently rediscovered – what a master of words. Jordan Peterson ( so I can offer informed argument when my conservative brother brings him up.) Map of Days – because I can’t get enough of Ransom Riggs’ world of Peculiars. Anything else that comes up and tugs at my sleeve saying, “Read me.”

Hugh Anderson is a Vancouver Islander. He has lived long enough to have been, among other things, a bus driver, an actor, and a teacher. His poems have appeared most recently in 3 Elements Review, Praxis Magazine Online, and Grain. He has one recent Pushcart Prize nomination. Read his poem “Quite Simple” in Issue 15:2.


Claudia Coutu Radmore

Claudia Radmore

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
Yellow Crane, Susan Gillis, Brick Books.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Cardinal in the Eastern White Cedar, Roo Borson, McClelland & Stewart, 2017.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
Following the River: Traces of Red River Women, Lorri Neilsen Glenn.

Claudia Coutu Radmore’s a moment or two / without remembering and Your Hands Discover Me / Tes mains me découvrent, were followed by Accidentals, which won Canada’s bpNichol Chapbook Award in 2011. fish spine picked clean, a tanka collection, was published by Éditions des petits nuages in March 2018. Read Claudia’s poem “One Saucy Little Clue” in Issue 15:2.


Kate Marshall Flaherty

Kate Marshall Flaherty

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
 I would say my favourite poetry book was Lesley Belleau’s Indianland, which explores the language of the Anishinaabe nation in the speaker’s memories, longings, and loss. I heard Lesley speak at the LCP awards this June, and I was touched by her stories as a mother of five, her insights as an Ojibwe woman, and by her words and images as a poet.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
 My best poetry discovery this year was the amazing poetry that came out of the prompted writing at my StillPoint Writing workshops. This is not a plug for the workshops, but rather a shout out to the amazing poets who came with open minds, who risked writing from within in the intense prompted ten minute sessions, and who dared to break boundaries in their own writing and who affirmed the others in the group.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
This year I hope to read my friend and fellow poet Catherine Graham’s novel Quarry, and friend and fellow poet Katerina Fretwell’s new book, which will be launched this spring with Inanna, as well as poetry from Tara Borin, Sarah Kabamba and Georgia Wilder in Quattro Book’s inaugural Best New Poets in Canada Series (which I edited with pride) … I hope many others read that too! (OK, there’s the shameless plug).

Kate Marshall Flaherty will launch her sixth poetry book, Radiant, with Inanna Press, May 2019. She’s been published in numerous journals, such as The Malahat Review, Vallum, Grain, Arc, CV2, Descant, Windsor and Saranac Reviews. She guides StillPoint Writing Workshops and performs poetry to music. See her award-winning performance poetry to music at http://katemarshallflaherty.ca/kmf/. Read her poem “Faith” in Issue 15:2.


Elana Wolff

Elana Wolff

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
The poems in Kath MacLean’s recently released Translating Air (McGill-Queen’s University Press), which imagine conversations between modernist poet H.D. and Sigmund Freud, are as beautiful and luminous as they are brainy. Translating Air is my new favourite. But I have to give a nod, too, to Guernica Editions First Poet, Ned Baeck, whose poems in Wait authenticate what it means to ask for mercy. Ned is a new poet with an old and valiant soul.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Frank Bidart is not exactly a discovery. His collections Star Dust and Metaphysical Dog are prominent on my shelf. But this year Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 came out in soft copy. I bought the collection and have been reading and rereading with renewed awe. Bidart, for me, achieves the ferocious heroic in language honed straight to the bone.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
There are several books on my winter-vacation-into-new-year list: La Folie Baudelaire by Roberto Calasso (Calasso is a perennial favourite), Hiking With Nietzsche by John Kaag, and Elizabeth Greene’s new novel, A Season Among Psychics (just out with Inanna Publications). British poet Sean Street’s Sound at the Edge of Perception is a book on the emotional effects of ‘worldly murmurings’ recommended to me by my friend, Elizabeth Bishop scholar, Sandra Barry; I’ve never been disappointed by a recommendation from Sandra, so I’m looking forward to this one. I’m also intrigued by B.W. Powe’s new electronic project, Opening Time on the Energy Threshold. I’ve enjoyed Powe’s poetry collections, The Unsaid Passing and Decoding Dust; also his poetic musings in Where Seas and Fables Meet, so I’m interested in what he’s up to now. Powe is the kind of visionary thinker who’s as versed with the wired world as he is with the mystics.

Elana Wolff is a Toronto-based writer, editor, and designer and facilitator of social art courses. Her poems and creative non-fiction pieces have appeared in Canadian and international publications and have garnered awards. Elana’s fifth collection of poems, Everything Reminds You of Something Else, was released with Guernica Editions in 2017. Read her poem “Mamillia Pool” in Issue 15:2.


Sharon Black

Sharon Black

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
The Wound Register (pub. Bloodaxe) by English poet Esther Morgan – it’s a lyrical, radiant collection of poems centred on the poet’s own family history and covering themes of loss, memory and parenthood. Esther has such lightness of touch, I’ve been a fan for years. This latest book is really an exquisite read.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Well, as editor of Pindrop Press – a small poetry publisher based between Scotland and France – I am always discovering new voices and one of my favourites this year was a wonderful debut collection I’m about to be putting out shortly called Derrida’s Monkey by Nell Farrell. It’s sharp, witty and slightly surreal, but full of compassion as well. It’s a real privilege to be publishing this book.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
Definitely The Forward Book of Poetry 2019 which is always a brilliant and diverse read of the best new work of the year. I’m also looking forward to reading Niall Campbell’s new collection Noctuary (Bloodaxe) as his last book Moontide (Bloodaxe) was simply gorgeous – understated and deeply evocative of the Scottish islands where the poet was born and still lives.

Sharon Black is from Glasgow in Scotland, but now lives in the Cévennes mountains of France. In 2017 she won the Poets and Players Poetry Competition. She is widely published and has released two collections: To Know Bedrock (Pindrop, 2011) and The Art of Egg (Two Ravens, 2015). www.sharonblack.co.uk. Read her poem “Pilgrimage” in Issue 15:2.


Mary Gilliland

Mary Gilliland

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
Kierkegaard’s Cupboard by Marianne Burton. I came to know Marianne’s work several years ago when we both had poems in an issue of Stand. She is deft with form, writes poems that matter. The poems in this new book are spoken as and for Kierkegaard; the author melds his reflections on life experiences, chronologically, and her own perspective. Most of my own persona poems give voice to anonymous characters, but one of mine is historical, spoken by Nikola Tesla. It’s both odd and fitting to be the channel for another human being, and I admire Burton’s sustaining it as a book-length enterprise.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Northwest Review. Let’s hear it for reputable publications we never quite get to that another poet passes along to us! Lakeside, in the summer, I spilled a bag of magazines to read in the sunshine – and was riveted by the heart and quality of this one’s contents, read it cover to cover.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women – her (sole?) novel, published in 1979 – my college roommate gave it to me this summer – and Karen Armstrong’s A Short History of Myth.

Mary Gilliland hails from the northeastern United States. Other recent poems appear in Healing Muse and Hotel Amerika, online in Matter and TAB, and anthologized in From The Finger Lakes, Like Light, and Nuclear Impact: Broken Atoms In Our Hands. She has taught at Cornell in Ithaca and in Doha. Read her poem “Floats to the Sky” in Issue 15:2.


rob mclennan

rob mclennan

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
That’s a tough one. There was IF wants to be the same as IS: Essential Poems of David Bromige, eds. Jack Krick, Bob Perelman and Ron Silliman, with an introduction by George Bowering (Vancouver BC: New Star Books, 2018). There was Shazia Hafiz Ramji’s Port of Being (Picton ON: Invisible Publishing, 2018). There was Julie Carr’s Real Life: An Installation (Oakland CA: Omnidawn Publishing, 2018). Must I pick but one?

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Had to be Anna Gurton-Wachter, Brooklyn poet. I produced a chapbook of hers back in January, 2018, and spent the following three or four months rereading it. Her work is a wonder to behold. Otherwise, I discovered the work of Aja Couchois Duncan, author of the book Restless Continent (Litmus Press, 2016). Wow, again.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
There are tons of things, honestly. I know Jason Christie has a poetry title with Coach House in the spring. I’m waiting for Hailey Higdon’s Spuyten Duyvil full-length debut to arrive in the mail. There are probably a dozen other forthcoming titles I can’t recall at the moment.

The author of more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, rob mclennan’s most recent titles are the poetry collections How the alphabet was made, (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018) and  Household items (Salmon Poetry, 2018). He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at robmclennan.blogspot.com. Read the interview “12 or 20 questions for rob mclennan” in Issue 15:2.


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You can read all the poets featured in this edition of our Year in Review in Vallum Issue 15:2.

And be sure to check out our Poem of the Week blog for 52 of our favourite poems this year.

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