Thistledown Press Spring 2016

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  • 1
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    Hamburger Daniel Perry Canada
    9781771870979 Paperback FICTION / Humorous Publication Date:April 15, 2016
    $18.95 CAD 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.44 in | 300 gr | 160 pages Carton Quantity:64 Thistledown Press
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      The stories in this collection represent the coming of age of a young writer. His earliest published work is here along with his later more sophisticated literary efforts. Perry’s fiction explores contemporary life mostly in urban centres like Toronto, though they are not bound by this parameter with stories also set in places such as Venice and Nicaragua. The pieces range from dark satirical perspectives to situational ironies and explore a wide variety of themes such as poverty, family life, travel, urban fear, dating and disenfranchisement. The stories fit well into the urban fiction motif and although they frequently carry images of struggle, fatigue, and loss, they move the characters who populate them into decisions that offer tense moments of hope and beauty. Not always plot specific, the stories frequently set in motion a paradox or unresolved event with which the reader is left to grapple.

      "The incisive, finely crafted stories in Daniel Perry’s Hamburger reveal themselves like icebergs; sometimes beautiful, sometimes imposing, sometimes portending danger and tragedy, but always with much more weight and mass hiding just beneath the surface. While devouring Hamburger, the thinking, feeling reader will find much to savour and digest." — Richard Scarsbrook, author of The Indifference League

      "Whether Daniel Perry is sketching out the chance encounter between strangers on a streetcar or the intimate connections between family members, the stories in Hamburger expose the complexities and tensions in human relationships. Hamburger is absorbing and insightful." — Patricia Westerhof, author of The Dove in Bathurst Station

      "The characters in Daniel Perry’s Hamburger are a motley crew — addicts, adulterers, liars and the faithful, all of them searching for something they can’t find. Perry captures entire worlds in these deft yet swooping stories — in sketches snappy and precise, he shows us the magic in the downtrodden, and gifts us images that linger long after the last page is turned." — Amanda Leduc, author of The Miracles of Ordinary Men


      Daniel Perry’s stories have appeared in The Dalhousie Review, Exile: The Literary Quarterly, The Prairie Journal of Canadian Literature, SubTerrain, Riddle Fence, Little Fiction and other magazines as well as the anthologies, Hearing Voices (Bareback, 2014), The Lion and the Aardvark (Stone Skin, 2013) and CVC Book Two (Exile, 2012). Originally from small-town Southwestern Ontario, Dan obtained a Master of Arts degree from the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, and has lived in that city since 2006.

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  • 2
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    9781771871013 Paperback JUVENILE FICTION / Family Age (months) from 13 - 16 Publication Date:April 15, 2016
    $15.95 CAD 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.38 in | 300 gr | 208 pages Carton Quantity:56 Thistledown Press
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      The title Stepping into Traffic is a play on words (and a metaphor) reflecting the protagonist’s actions. When we meet Sebastian (Seb) he is already taking risks and putting himself in harm’s way as he and a couple of his friends carry out a failed break and enter and are arrested. As we get to know Seb we discover his life has been a series of bad foster experiences that have left him numb to the memories of his dead parents, and poor in his judgement of how to fit in. Much of his foster care has been damaging to his self-esteem and moral codes. He is not strong and his fears begin to mount.

      Awaiting his court appearance, Seb is placed in his eighth foster home in seven years in the company of Mrs. Ford, a foster home caregiver, whom Seb finds familiar and comforting. Memories of his early home life flood him and he begins to find a sense of well-being and trust. However, Seb’s troubles soon reappear in the form of wealthy, manipulative drug dealer Donny Malner. Lured by Donny’s social power and blind to Danny’s ruthlessness, Seb seeks his approval. Soon he is entwined in Danny’s drug-dealing world where violence and lies direct most actions. Though Mrs. Ford continues to stand by him, he knows he is betraying her trust. Others who could help him like his school friends, the nerdy Nina or her friend Matt, cannot hold sway. Soon Seb is caught up in a wave of violent circumstance that neither Mrs. Ford nor his unusual mentor the school janitor, Mr Frogly, can help him out of. He is as lost and directionless as the feral dog he befriends and cannot escape the wicked path of lies he has created.

      In a final showdown with Donny and gangland members, he must decide what he will do. His dilemma is as great as the fear he faces: engage in the revenge he seeks and lose the closest thing he has had to a home, or stand up to his mistakes, reveal his lies and accept the consequences. Though he is not ready, Sebastian steps out in the traffic.

      Buy an eBook version of this book at Kobo, Amazon Kindle Store, or your favourite eBook store


      K.J. Rankin is a regular contributor of book reviews to CM Magazine — a major source for both school librarians, and teachers. She is a writer and editor of children’s stories and also facilitates adult and seniors’ creative writing workshops, most of which focus on memoir. Rankin lives in Toronto and this is her first novel.

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  • 3
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    Shift Kelly Shepherd Canada
    9781771871044 Paperback POETRY / Subjects & Themes Publication Date:April 15, 2016
    $17.95 CAD 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.25 in | 250 gr | 96 pages Carton Quantity:120 Thistledown Press
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      These poems are filled with awe and celebration, sadness, and ironic humour as Shepherd explores the themes of human relationships with the natural world including connection, alienation, and the negative impacts of human activity on nature; interspecies kinship – ecological as well as animistic and shamanic; and intersections of ecology and industry.

      Shepherd uses numerous voices and perspectives, and such arrangements bring about a variety of moods. Whether his subjects are starlings or tamaracks, woodchucks or grizzly bears, the ever-present magic of nature guides not only the mode but directs each poem’s tone toward some unique perspective:

      Some spiders know the correct use of magic
      knots to tie a cluster of Oregon grape
      into one single dusty purple berry. If a

      black bear swallows it under the right moon
      he or she will become a powerful shaman,
      able to speak the languages of spiders.

      But while there is a dominance of the natural world found in the poems, they also reflect the numerous meanings of the title: a shift of perspective or point of view, physically moving or shifting position, transforming or changing form or physical appearance, shifting gears while driving a vehicle, working the night shift, and so on. The book's title is also taken from the title of one specific poem in the collection that encapsulates some of these central ideas.

      Living and working on the land and bodily experiences of specific places also have their place in Shepherd’s poems. These portraits ensure a kind of visceral connection or memory to the poems as they invite reader comparisons to their own work experiences:

      Your job is to take the cement –
      grey-green, ugly, utilitarian, dusty and not just dusty but
      poisonous, abrasive, blocky, sharp-edged, impossibly heavy
      and dangerous in slings from overheard lifts –
      and transform it into something else.

      Pull off the present disk,
      fingers fat with heavy rubber gloves,
      and whack the grinder wheel’s Velcro pad
      down onto the next one waiting;

      Shift is a collection of poems that leave an indelible mark that we humans are interconnected and that we are intrinsically bound to the natural world. They are poems that champion the beauty and resilience of nature and remind us that we need to protect our relationships with it.


      Kelly Shepherd is an active writer and performer. He has been part of numerous poetry reading events including creative collaborations with other writers, musicians, and visual artists; has had participation in The Rasp and the Wine reading series in Edmonton, the Spoken Word on the Move series in Kelowna, and the Raving Poets series in Edmonton.

      He has been a kindergarten teacher in South Korea and a construction worker in northern Alberta. He has a Religious Studies MA from the University of Alberta, with a thesis on sacred geography, and an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC Okanagan. He has written five poetry chapbooks: The First Metaphor (2014), Fort McMurray Tricksters (2014), if one petal falls (2012), the bony world (2010), and Circumambulations (2003); his writing has been published in numerous journals including The Goose, The Coastal Spectator, Lemon Hound, and Geist. He is also a poetry editor for the environmental philosophy journal The Trumpeter. Originally from Smithers, British Columbia, Kelly currently lives and teaches in Edmonton.

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  • 4
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    A Map in My Blood Carla Braidek Canada
    9781771870962 Paperback POETRY / Women Authors Publication Date:April 15, 2016
    $17.95 CAD 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.2 in | 250 gr | 80 pages Carton Quantity:128 Thistledown Press
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      Traditional poetry continues to hold its place in contemporary literature, in part, because of the emergence of women whose writing is informed by tradition but whose subject matter crystalizes in the personal search for meaning. This work represents a search through life, querying events and ideas. Thoughts are offered and ideas considered, but no real conclusion is reached as life’s constant flux shifts the perspective and importance of every event. Everyday moments and seemingly inconsequential acts are allowed their due while peace and strength show through the loss and effort.

      In the backdrop to the poems, the boreal forest comes alive, poems begin there:
      I spent the entire day walking poplar brush and spruce groves
      stretched out for a bit in waist-high grass in the meadow beyond the birches
      worked my slow way beneath the willows where beaver wore a path
      through stones that rim the slough next to Little Winter Lake

      And poems end there:

      young throats yip
      coyote pups on the ridge
      beckon the moon as feet slap boards
      stretched to the drowning sun
      leap into rippled silver

      The forest, the woman, and poem share the work for meaning in these poems and this is what creates their beauty as much as the carefully chosen words that convey it.


      Carla Braidek lives and writes in the boreal forest near Big River, Saskatchewan. Her book Carrying the Sun (Thistledown, 2005) was short-listed for the Saskatchewan Book Award for poetry. Her work is also published in her chapbook Quickening, the Hagios Press anthology New Saskatchewan Poets, and various literary magazines. In 2010 Carla had the good fortune to attend Emma, an international artists’ collaboration. Her poetry was included in the full-length documentary, Unplugged - Emma 2010 Collaboration, that was filmed during that time.

      Carla has taught in classrooms from grade 1 to 12, as well as outdoors, in libraries, and on city streets. She was both a guest speaker and a facilitator for the Sage Hill Teen Writing Experience. Recently she is exploring the world by way of the personal essay.

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  • 5
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    9781771871006 Paperback POETRY / Women Authors Publication Date:April 15, 2016
    $17.95 CAD 5.5 x 9.5 x 0.2 in | 250 gr | 80 pages Carton Quantity:128 Thistledown Press
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      These poems are steeped in loss and lament as they concern the death of the poet’s family members, particularly her father and the premature death of two brothers two years apart. The collection’s tone is often elegiac, but rarely maudlin, and the clipped narrative is frequently imbued with lyrical strains. There is an abundance of quotes and hat-tip allusions that act as sign posts along the grieving journey.

      Maxwell’s poems are emotional counterpoints to life’s implacable realities. Sickness and old age come to her father, as eventually does death. Her brothers are taken before their time and once again death enters her life. In the resulting response she learns that self-recrimination, denial, or anger cannot change the course of events. She teaches us that grief is a singular and deeply emotional experience and the poems convey this intimacy.


      Mary Maxwell has published articles, short fiction, opinion pieces and poems. She has worked as a registered nurse for 40 years, and has degrees in English and extensive study in grief counselling. She has one previous poetry book: Arrangements (Hag Papers). Her work has appeared in the anthologies, Eating Apples: Knowing Womens’ Lives, Chicken and Fingers (NeWest Press 1994), Work and Leisure: Chicken and Fingers (McGraw Hill Ryerson 1995), Running Barefoot: Women Write the Land, Cut Stalks in Her Arms (Rowan Books 2001); Health Issues 8: Chicken and Fingers (McGraw Hill Ryerson 2002); Listening with the Ear of the Heart, A Wise Heart (St Peter’s Press 2003), and in Grain Magazine, NeWest Review, CV2, and Descant.

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