The 2014 winner of The Out-In-Print Literary Award for queer & trans-spectrum, female-identified writers not previously published in book form was Halifax’s Shannon Webb-Campbell and her provocative collection of poems, Still No Word.
My favorite poems here echo the night-sky image of the book’s cover, with lines scattered like constellations across the page inviting readings both as discrete units and as part of the whole poem.
Poems like “Emotional Philosophy” play with form: “I haven’t opened your unpaid bills / I’ve read your old magazines and put your death certificate aside // I haven’t discovered the manuscript in your office. / I’ve made a photocopy”. Some of the antithetical statements ring true but others obviously contradict each other in thoughtful ways.
Still No Word’s poems invite contemplation of, for example, genetics in “Chromosome Story” – “my parents,/ with everything they know, / hiding in / their living cells” – or commitment in “Because We’re Going to Camp Mockingee” – “your love is Atlantic / resilient and resounding /a place to live by / an essential to life’s raft”, which both alludes to and is reminiscent of fellow Haligonian poet, Sue Goyette.
Webb-Campbell’s simple profundity makes this collection an excellent gift for people you want to start reading poetry.