Longlisted for 2012 ReLit Award!
This sparse and powerful poetic debut, weaves a tale of heartache, dissolution, and coming of age. Onion Man is an intense and masterly sculpted series of linked poems set in London, Ontario, in the late 1980s– a time in Canada when the recession lay like a lead weight on the shoulders of young people, leaving the future bleak.
The poems are told from the point of view of an eighteen-year-old girl working for the summer at a corn canning factory, and they follow her relationship with her factory job, her boyfriend, her alcoholic mother, her terminally ill grandfather, and the man who every night “peels an onion and eats it as if it were an apple.”
The Onion Man doesn’t speak English and is tormented by the other workers. After his son dies, he commits suicide at the factory, and the girl finds his body. This traumatic event causes her to rethink the direction of her life.
Kathryn Mockler is the author of the poetry books Onion Man (Tightrope Books, 2011) and The Saddest Place on Earth (forthcoming in December 2012 with DC Books). She received her MFA from the University of British Columbia and her BA in Honors English and Creative Writing. Her writing has appeared in Descant, Joyland, The Capilano Review, The Antigonish Review, The Puritan, La Petite Zine, Geist, and This Magazine. Her films have been broadcast on TMN, Movieola, and Bravo and have screened at numerous festivals. Currently, she teaches creative writing at Western University and is the co-founder of the online journal The Rusty Toque.
Praise for Onion Man
“Mockler can’t hide anything in lines this clean and spare. Onion Man delivers a bold, candid voice. It’s a book of brave choices. We have a winner in Kathryn Mockler.”—Michael V. Smith
“With Onion Man, Mockler does for the Pillsbury factory was Dante did for hell. But Mockler is funnier. Nearly every piece on this epic, romantic novel-in-verse cracked me up and, like the best comedians, Mockler breaks your heart while she makes you laugh. Her deadpan wit is dead-on and her understated insight is fathoms deep. You’ve never read a book of poetry like this.”—Sharon McCartney
“Unapologetically makes gritty poetry from that state of not knowing, but even suggests that standing on leeches is a way to start to think.”—Tanis MacDonald, lemonhound
“A pleasure to read”—inkwellbook