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Phil Hall’s first small book, Eighteen Poems, was published by Cyanamid, the Canadian mining company, in Mexico City, in 1973. Among his many titles are: Old Enemy Juice (1988), The Unsaid (1992), and Hearthedral – A Folk-Hermetic (1996). In the early 80s, Phil was a member of the Vancouver Industrial Writers’ Union, and also a member of the Vancouver Men Against Rape Collective. He has taught writing at York University, Ryerson University, Seneca College, George Brown College, and elsewhere. He has been poet-in-residence at Sage Hill Writing Experience (Saskatchewan), The Pierre Berton House (Dawson City, Yukon), and elsewhere. Hall also currently works as a poetry manuscript midwife, a distance program offered by the Toronto New School of Writing. In 2007, BookThug published Phil’s long poem, White Porcupine. Also in 2007. he and his wife, Ann, walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. He is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, and lives near Perth, Ontario. Recent books include An Oak Hunch (shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2006) and The Little Seamstress. In 2011, he won Canada’s Governor General’s Award for Poetry for his most recent collection, Killdeer, a work the jury called “a masterly modulation of the elegiac through poetic time.”

Killdeer

Book*hug Press
2012 Shortlist
Canada
Shortlisted in:

Judges’ Citation

These are poems of ferocity and humility, of vulnerability and wit, poems whose skilled complexities elucidate the lyric disturbance of melody, memory and self.

These are poems of ferocity and humility, of vulnerability and wit, poems whose skilled complexities elucidate the lyric disturbance of melody, memory and self. Grasping his intimate line like a kind of loved and fortuitous handtool, what Hall constructs is a voice that attends to the familial and psychic histories submerged in landscape, in all their bitterness and gorgeousness. There is a rough amplitude in his compositional principle: that ‘between the body & language/ a ravine of call and response’. In this work, out of the uncertainty and lag of dailiness comes the knowledge that although precision isn’t always simple, by the precise ear we may arrive at the heart.

Judges’ Citation

Straddling the thin line between argument and lyric, the ‘Essay-Poems’ of Killdeer are deceptively prosodic, and can switch from the stark and factual to short flights of startling, gorgeous lyricism…

Straddling the thin line between argument and lyric, the ‘Essay-Poems’ of Killdeer are deceptively prosodic, and can switch from the stark and factual to short flights of startling, gorgeous lyricism: ‘Killdeer on my oozing stumps … Whipped the years’ butcher block rings to crèche shavings … Her desperate ruse has settled into gunwales – her closed cry a prow’s nib.’ Suspicious of artifice, surgically self-evaluating, Hall’s poems at once pay tribute to writers and friends who have shaped his sense of integrity while analyzing his own progress and methods as an artist. A record of private and imaginative growth, Killdeer builds a powerful narrative of recognition, attesting to the introspective mind’s capacity to transgress pain. This document of the examined life, through its hard-nosed accretion of realizations, is remarkably moving as it rows tenaciously between ‘islands of repair.’ Full of unease, gratitude, humour, intellectual and personal challenges, and not without bite, Killdeer is a testament to the creative life as an act of faith and transformation.