Elrick undoes the cartography of possession and makes strange
the cities we find ourselves at home within.
Michelle Elrick’s then/again is a poetic account of finding home, and the meanings and moments that the concept of home can come to embody. The collection tracks the poet through a landscape of intimate places—an ancestral home in Scotland, a mother’s birthplace in Salzburg, a childhood home on the West Coast—as well as the memory-warped terrain of the poet’s past houses.
In brief poetic capsules that combine to form long, lyrical narratives, Elrick enfolds layers of tactile and remembered experience, offering continual moments of surprise. The double act of perceiving and writing lends transformative and mythic properties to the everyday: “a heron drums a pattern of shadows on the surface of the sea, wings tick with quartz regularity. bay clouds spot red, bulbs of peach bloom, smoulder and die down into blue.” The collection is infused by a sense of nostalgia and longing within the present moment, illustrating the elusiveness of home even while it is being lived: “I watch as the day opens, expanding its geometry. diffuse light penetrates the blind. hot sun yellows cold concrete (caress stretching across the courtyard).”
Each quiet moment of reflection builds upon the others to produce a sense of place that is as immediate and fleeting as home itself. Elrick has an uncanny sense for capturing and illuminating those moments that will later glow in memory.
Contact Nightwood Editions for order information.
remember the old log house
As We Try & Sleep Press, 2013
Created in collaboration with artist Peter Kralik and published in 2013 by As We Try & Sleep Press, this new work in alternative cartography by Michelle Elrick uses a document written by the author’s grandfather, George, as the foundation for nine found poems. These poems become the defining features of an imaginary landscape. The topography is molded by the nine occasions George uses the word “remember” as he cycles through his memories toward the end of his life. Every other word the author finds in service of the poetry becomes a signifier for the features of the landscape—rivers, woods, trails and ruins.
remember the old log house on acres of land (all bush) acres and acres where we lived and died and married again
The intricate, hand drawn topography was brought to life by Kralik and screen printed on semi-transparent bond paper at Martha Street Studio in Winnipeg. The result is a multidimensional reading of Grandpa George’s memories, imagined as a landscape replete with pathways, waterways and parkland. Locked into this dialogue between the map and the poetry are a number of hidden resonances that come to light with a sleuthing eye.
Inspired by Jordan Abel’s stunning piece “The Totem Pole Transported to Toronto” in Dandelion Magazine 37.1 (the “Mapping” issue). remember the old log house is available to order by contacting the author directly, or through As We Try & Sleep Press.
The Muses’ Company, 2010
Read an excerpt
Seduced by the quiet yet forceful voice of the speaker, readers will find themselves entranced by all the ways in which words, like wings, unfold into flight. The beauty and strength of Michelle Elrick’s poetry is that it resonates with simplicity and moth-like grace even when it is asking for the world.
Available for order online or at your local bookstore.
As virtual reality increasingly locates us in a flat, almost pre-Copernicus world, Michelle Elrick’s spatial sensitivities invigorate the inner & outer landscapes found in this collection. These poems engage you on every level.
Elrick is a deeply alert, gifted young poet. She is refreshingly free of the clever, the jaded, the allure of celebrity narcissism and human commodification. Elrick does not, however, retreat into a more idealized pre-21st Century world. The quiet philosophical inquiry that fuels this book offers a cultural critique that can stop you in your tracks: ‘how far we come/from what we love/in search of something better.’
—Betsy Warland, author of Breathing the Page—Reading the Act of Writing