Anne Michaels is the author of three highly acclaimed poetry collections: The Weight of Oranges which won the Commonwealth Prize for the Americas; Miner’s Pond which received the Canadian Authors Association Award and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award and the Trillium Award; and Skin Divers. Fugitive Pieces is Anne Michaels’ multi-award-winning, internationally best-selling first novel that was the winner of the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Guardian Fiction Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction, among many other Canadian and international awards. Fugitive Pieces was also adapted as an internationally released feature film. Her second novel, The Winter Vault, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Trillium Book Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and a nominee for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her work has been translated into more than forty languages.
In October 2015, Michaels was named the fifth Toronto Poet Laureate.
Anne Michaels’ Correspondences is a single, intensely lyrical poem of something over 700 lines, in 54 unnumbered sections.
Anne Michaels’ Correspondences is a single, intensely lyrical poem of something over 700 lines, in 54 unnumbered sections. With an exceedingly spare vocabulary and a voice as light as a whisper, the poem weaves recollections of Paul Celan, Nelly Sachs, and many others into an elegy for the author’s father, Isaiah Michaels. The text is accompanied by reproductions of 26 gouache portraits by Bernice Eisenstein, and the physical book is designed and constructed in such a way that the portraits are subtly privileged over the text. In effect, the poem is hidden on the underside of the paintings. Yet the poem, for all its modesty, attempts something momentous. It is a sustained interrogation of language, memory, history, sunlight, and rain in search of words that are simple and clean enough to speak, as Michaels says, from someplace ‘deeper than a single heart’. It is a search for a language not only the living but also ‘the dead might understand and trust’. And it is an exercise in learning to read from and write on a highly elusive surface: the hidden place that Michaels calls the third side of the page.
by Anne Michaels
The wet earth. I did not imagine
your death would reconcile me with
language, did not imagine soil
clinging to the page, black type
like birds on a stone sky. That your soul – yes,
I use that word – beautiful,
could saturate the bitterness from even
that fate, not of love
but its opposite, all concealed
in a reversal of longing.
Copyright © Text 2013 by Anne Michaels