Featuring trusted series editor Christopher Doda and acclaimed guest editor Joseph Kertes, this eighth installment of Canada’s annual volume of essays showcases diverse nonfiction writing from across the country. Culled from leading Canadian magazines and journals, Best Canadian Essays 2016 contains award-winning and award-nominated nonfiction articles that are topical and engaging and have their finger on the pulse of our contemporary psyches.
Contributors: Carleigh Baker, Graeme Bayliss, Desmond Cole, Krista Foss, Don Gillmor, Wayne A. Hunt, Michelle Kaeser, Richard Kelly Kemick, Susan Olding, Richard Poplak, Michael Rowe, Kenneth Sherman, Antanas Sileika, Fred Stenson, Leona Theis, Elana Wolff.
Christopher Doda is a poet, editor and critic living in Toronto. He is the author of two books of poetry, Among Ruins and Aesthetics Lesson. His award-winning nonfiction has appeared in journals across Canada and he was on the editorial board of Exile Editions for over ten years.
Joseph Kertes’ first novel, Winter Tulips, won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. His third novel, Gratitude, won a Canadian Jewish Book Award and the U.S. National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. His most recent novel is The Afterlife of Stars.
Guest edited by Helen Humphreys, this ninth edition of Canada’s vibrant yearly anthology features the fifty finest Canadian poems published during 2015. The Best Canadian Poetry series, which thrives under the stewardship of acclaimed series editor, Molly Peacock, and assistant series editor, Anita Lahey, ushers readers into the heart of the diverse Canadian poetry scene. A must-read for anyone with a stake or interest in contemporary Canadian literature.
“Humphreys’ selections are a balanced mix of yearning and optimism, and she skillfully brings the solo works together in a collection as complex and satisfying as a symphony.” —Publishers Weekly
“For nine years, this series has been presenting the best of Canada’s published poems in an annual anthology, under the guidance of series editor and poet Molly Peacock… Best Canadian Poetry in English 2016 contains 50 bits of eternity, arranged alphabetically by author from James Arthur to Tara-Michelle Ziniuk.”—Merilyn Simonds, Kingston Whig-Standard
“From love and loss to the political, from formal to informal verse, the Best Canadian Poetry series offers an annual sampling of voices and experiences—a little slice of Canadiana that may be appreciated beyond borders as well.” —Lori A. May, Examiner.com
“The wide range of writers, forms and themes represented here make it a great jumping-off point for readers who might be interested in Canadian poetry but are unsure about where to start.”—Emma Healey, Globe and Mail
Helen Humphreys is the award-winning author of four books of poetry, seven novels, and three works of creative non-fiction. Her most recent works are The Evening Chorus (HarperCollins, 2015) and The River (ECW Press, 2015). She lives in Kingston, Ontario, where she is also the city’s Poet Laureate.
Anita Lahey is a poet, journalist, reviewer, and essayist. She is the author of The Mystery Shopping Cart: Essays on Poetry and Culture (Palimpsest Press, 2013) and of two Véhicule Press poetry collections: Out to Dry in Cape Breton (2006) and Spinning Side Kick (2011). The former was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry and the Ottawa Book Award.
Molly Peacock is a widely anthologized poet who writes biography, memoir, and fiction. Her newest work is Alphabetique: 26 Characteristic Fictions, with illustrations by Kara Kosaka. She is also the author of The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72, both from McClelland and Stewart. Her forthcoming book of poetry is The Analyst, poems about psychoanalysis, poetry and painting, from W.W. Norton and Biblioasis. She is the subject of Jason Guriel’s monograph, Molly Peacock: A Critical Introduction.
BCP 2016 poets:
James Arthur • Joelle Barron • Hugo Beauchemin-Lachapelle (translated by Alexander Rock) • andrea bennett • Sheri Benning • Tim Bowling • Julie Bruck • Suzanne Buffam • Dani Couture • Lynn Crosbie • Kayla Czaga • Dorothy Field • Kim Fu • Michelle Good • Laurie D. Graham • Jane Eaton Hamilton • Steven Heighton • Jason Heroux • Gerald Hill • Amber Homeniuk • Maureen Hynes • Sally Ito • Amanda Jernigan • Kate Kennedy • M. Travis Lane • Jeff Latosik • Evelyn Lau • Randy Lundy • Sneha Madhavan-Reese • Lee Maracle • Stephen Maude • Cassidy McFadzean • David McGimpsey • Steve McOrmond • A.F. Moritz • Hoa Nguyen • Elise Partridge • Matt Rader • Rachel Rose • Armand Garnet Ruffo • Douglas Burnet Smith • Kilby Smith-McGregor • Karen Solie • John Steffler • Kate Sutherland • Sylvia Symons • John Terpstra • Souvankham Thammavongsa • Nick Thran • Tara-Michelle Ziniuk
cabana the big is a ribald, dystopian, post-apocalyptic tale of a new world order set up by businessman harold galloway, as documented by narrator Slim Reggie Canuck, galloway’s chosen chronicler. The novel’s protagonist, henry morgan, is a former physician who now rides with the big eight (galloway’s version of The Magnificent Seven). Presiding over the big eight is the phallic minotaur-in-a-Stetson, cabana the big. Slim Reggie Canuck’s hilarious, graphic narration makes cabana the big a cautionary allegory about the end of the Twenty-first Century.
“Slim Reggie Canuck is one of the most original and memorable creations in the annals of Canadian letters. He is one funny storyteller with a serious message about where our power-obsessed world is heading.”—Terry Fallis, author of The Best Laid Plans and No Relation
“cabana the big is commedia dell armageddon, theatre of the absurd, a B-plus movie directed by The Coens or Mel Brooks, make that Tarantino. Henry Morgan(stern) drops his capitals, while Carla and ma rosemary, insider bargirls at the abyss saloon, serve up intrigues and End-Days cardiac events, all reported by Slim Reggie with black humor, misogyny and misanthrope, marital breakdown and juicy pop references. Only poets get to be this funny!” —Linda Rogers, author of The Empress Letters
Photo: Becca Gilgan
Ron Charach is a Toronto psychiatrist and the author of nine collections of poetry, most recently Selected Portraits (2007) and Forgetting the Holocaust (2011). His poems and essays have appeared in most Canadian literary and medical/psychiatric journals.
In For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, Danila Botha explores the nuances and complexity of relationships, from love to betrayal. In these eighteen unforgettable stories, Botha creates characters so authentic, readers are convinced that they know them personally. As in her debut collection, Got No Secrets, Botha excels at blending literary techniques with popular zeitgeist. With her trademark honest and singular voice, Botha exposes the desire for human connection above all things. The collection is hopeful, fearless, and utterly relatable.
“Everyone in this book is alive. Painfully, nervously, ardently. This collection, (like Chekhov by way of Kathy Acker but utterly original), is truthful and dreamy, tough and tremulous; sad and aching, seductively, with hope.—Lynn Crosbie, author of Where Did You Sleep Last Night
“With an ear for poetry and a knack for tragedy, Danila Botha is an expert on yearning. These stories are for anyone who has ever loved and lost, but not let go.”—Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall, author of Ghosted
“For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known is unlike anything I have ever read before. Unflinchingly honest in its examination of love in all its joyful, messy, agonizing, spectacularly beautiful glory, these stories seem to vibrate on their own emotional frequency. Danila Botha writes with a heartbreaking rawness and intensity that will continue to haunt you long after you’ve turned the final page.”—Amy Jones, author of We’re All In This Together
“I discovered [author Danila Botha] while I was reading books for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award specifically her delightful first story collection, Got No Secrets. These two stories are brand new, stories written in a gutsy, head-on, colloquial style about love, sex and mis-connection among the urban 20-somethings she knows so well. Her characters are all compulsively themselves, driven, probably always, to make a mess of things, but vulnerable, full of desire, and often touchingly witty.”—Douglas Glover, author of Elle
“A searing and beautifully forthright collection about the angst, chaos, tragedy and hope in the quest for love. A series of unique, riveting and perfect portrayals that pulls no punches. Reading these stories made me smile and made me want to smash things.”—Lisa de Nikolits, author of Between the Cracks She Fell
“For All the Men has Botha delivering smart prose that seamlessly balances humour, disappointment, and dysfunction… Botha is an incredibly fresh voice in Canadian literature, and this remarkably visceral and unforgettable collection feels like it’s only setting the stage for much more to come.”—Liz Worth, Quill & Quire
“I devoured this collection, and I hope Ms. Botha continues to hone her craft producing more stories with that healthy touch of realism that she has come to be recognised for.” —Miramichi Reader
“Each of these stories are real and honest, open and gut-wrenching, and Botha makes them jump out from the page into your mind. The characters are unforgettable. This book will stay with you for a long time, as you ponder your own understanding of love long after you have shut the last page.”—Laurie Burns, Atlantic Books Today
“Botha’s characters freely indulge in sex and drugs and copious amounts of alcohol in their quest to find succour or peace, though it becomes readily apparent that what they are most intent on discovering… is some sort of authentic connection with another human being… The author is undeniably familiar with modern urban ennui, and the stories in her collection have an admirable directness and grit.”— Steven W. Beattie, Globe and Mail
“A series of orchestral variations whose loops and iterations are made vital by the steady introduction of new elements… stories full of people who disappoint, or are disappointed, yet they rarely end on a note of despair, which in today’s Tinder-enabled relationship landscape seems almost like an act of subversion… She [Botha] has a fine talent…”—Emily Donaldson, Toronto Star
“Botha’s collection thoughtfully, tragically, and insightfully captures the peculiarities of modern relationships in the time of texting, online dating, and an unnerving urban detachment we’ve come to recognize as a normal thing.”—The Literary Lollipop
Photo: Ayelet Tsabari
Danila Botha is a fiction writer based in Toronto. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, she has lived in Israel, and in Nova Scotia. Her first collection of short stories, Got No Secrets, was praised by the Globe and Mail, the Chronicle Herald and the Cape Town Times. It was also named one of Britannica’s Books of the Year (Canadian short stories), and was published in South Africa in 2011. Her first novel, Too Much on the Inside, was shortlisted for the 2016 Relit Award and won a Book Excellence Award for Contemporary Novel. Her sophomore collection of short stories, For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, was published in 2016 to rave reviews. It was also recently named a finalist for the 2017 Trillium Book Awards. She is currently working on her second novel and on a new collection of short stories. Read more on her website: www.danilabotha.com