Souvankham Thammavongsa poetry

About the Author

Souvankham Thammavongsa’s first story collection, How to Pronounce Knife, was published in April 2020, to critical acclaim, by Little, Brown (US), McClelland & Stewart/Penguin Random House (Canada), and Bloomsbury (UK). The collection has won the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada’s most prestigious literary award, and Ontario’s Trillium Award. Thammavongsa’s stories have won an O. Henry Award and appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, Granta, NOON, The Believer, Best American Nonrequired Reading 2018, and O. Henry Prize Stories 2019. She is the author of four books of poetry, Cluster (2019); Light (Pedlar, 2013), winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry; Found (Pedlar, 2007), now a short film; and Small Arguments (Pedlar, 2003), winner of the ReLit prize. She has been called “one of the most striking voices to emerge in Canadian poetry in a generation” (The Walrus). She is working on her first novel.

 

Small Arguments (2003)

Reminiscent of Pablo Neruda’s Elemental Odes, Small Arguments is a stunningly original debut by a gifted young poet. The language of Small Arguments is simple yet there is nothing simple in its ideas. The work touches on the structures of argument, orchestrating material around repetition, variation and contrast. Thammavongsa’s approach is like that of a scientist/philosopher, delicately probing material for meaning and understanding. The poet collects small lives, and argues for a larger belonging: a grain of dirt, a crushed cockroach, the eyes of a dead dragonfly. It is a work that suggests we can create with what we know and with that alone. || “This is the voice of a pilgrim, the one who bends to see, leans to hear. . . Thammavongsa has distilled her meaning from her details so masterfully and with such confident wisdom that she seems to be reading nature. Through her eyes, we can believe we see the true meaning in things.” – Anne Michaels

“A formidable work.” – George Elliot Clarke

 

Found (2007)

“In 1978, my parents lived in building #48. Nongkai, Thailand, a Lao refugee camp. My father kept a scrapbook filled with doodles, addresses, postage stamps, maps, measurements. He threw it out and when he did, I took it and found this.” – Souvankham Thammavongsa

The poems of Found, with their blank spaces and small print, their language so unforgiving in detail that every letter, gesture, break, line and shape becomes for us a place of real meaning, were built out of doodles, diagrams, drawings into a work characterized by the elegance and power of its bareness—to let us see and to hold back much of what we see.

 

Light (2013)

Souvankham Thammavongsa’s third book of poetry, Light, examines the word that gives the collection its name. There are poems about a sparkle, about how to say light, about a scarecrow, a dung beetle, a fish without eyes. Known for her precision and elegance, for her small clear voice, for distilling meaning from details, for not wasting words, Thammavongsa confirms her gifts with these new poems. Light is a work that shines with rigour, humour, courage and grit.

Winner of the 2014 Trillium Award for Poetry

 

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Support your local independent bookseller.

Congratulations to Souvankham Thammavongsa, winner of the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize

November 9, 2020 (Toronto, Ontario) – Souvankham Thammavongsa is the winner of the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize for her short story collection, How To Pronounce Knife, published by McClelland & Stewart. Thammavongsa will receive $100,000 courtesy of Scotiabank.

The remaining finalists, listed below, will each receive $10,000.

  • Gil Adamson, for her novel Ridgerunner, published by House of Anansi Press
  • David Bergen, for his short story collection Here The Dark, published by Biblioasis
  • Shani Mootoo, for her novel Polar Vortex, published by Book*hug Press
  • Emily St. John Mandel, for her novel The Glass Hotel, published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
The winner was announced NOV 9, 2020  at the Scotiabank Giller Prize award ceremony, hosted by Canadian actor Eric McCormack, with performances by Canadian singer and songwriter, Diana Krall. The ceremony was presented commercial-free by Scotia Wealth Management on CBC, CBC Radio One, CBC Gem and streamed live on CBCBooks.ca.
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Pedlar Press offers our most sincere congratulations. Pedlar published Souvankham Thammavongsa’s first three poetry titles; Small Arguments (2003), Found (2007), and Light (2013).

Seeing Martin, a novel by Su Croll

 

The hand of the poet is evident in Su Croll’s debut novel, and her characters are as painterly and visceral as her allusions to Francis Bacon’s screaming popes and Jana Sterbak’s meat dress. Croll flips art history’s traditional trope of artist and muse, revisiting that fraught relationship in a compelling contemporary story of art, desire and obsession.

—Marlena Wyman, visual artist and Edmonton Historian Laureate





Niagara & Government, Phil Hall

Biography

Niagara & Government is Phil Hall’s seventeenth book of poetry. His poetic practice spans almost fifty years. In 2011 Hall won Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in English for his collection of essay-poems, Killdeer, which the jury called “a masterly modulation of the elegiac through poetic time.” Killdeer also won Ontario’s Trillium Book Award, and was nominated for the Griffin Poetry Prize (as was his 2005 collection An Oak Hunch). Hall’s 2016 collection, Conjugation, was praised by Douglas Barbour as “a major addition to a major oeuvre.”

Hall has published many small press chapbooks, and is a visual artist who works in collage. He has taught writing at the Kootenay School of Writing, Ryerson University, Banff Centre, and Toronto New School. He has been writer-in-residence at Sage Hill Writing Experience (Saskatchewan), Berton House (Dawson City, Yukon), Queen’s University, University of Ottawa, and most recently at University of New Brunswick, Fredericton (2018/19). While at Queen’s in 2012 he inaugurated an annual lecture series, The Page Lectures, in honour of Kingston poet and artist Joanne Page.

Hall has lived in Windsor, Vancouver and Toronto, and now lives in a log house outside Perth, Ontario. A decade ago, Pedlar published his collection The Little Seamstress.

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“To tell what happened to you is not a poem,” writes Phil Hall in this, his latest collection, Niagara & Government. What a poem is: roaring calamity, wedding deceptions, sobriety, Charlottesville mobs, estranged sisters, folk art, poverty, puffery, work, names on cenotaphs, white space, white space, white space. These long sequential poems want to be spoken. They invite the reader to check her ego and sit with “the good stories that un-tongued us.”

“Increasingly known as the “poet’s poet,” Governor General’s Award–winner Phil Hall has long been a constructor of intricate sequences, collecting and arranging lines and phrases, artifacts, and small revelations. He writes on influences, literary and local; he writes of rural Ontario, attempting to comprehend a deeply personal family violence; he stitches together lines and tall tales and fables from his life and the stories that float around the ethos of his variety of Ontario wilds. Hall’s isn’t a poetry carved into perfect diamond form but a poetry whittled from scores of found materials pulled apart and rearranged.” —rob mclennan





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Phil Hall reading from Niagara & Government.

Video credit: David Zimmerly

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLazRs-wn19-6pxCvL88JbD1KIl73N0fGV