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    ISBN: 9780889226326 | Paperback

    128 pages | Pub. Date: 20100415
    6.00 W × 9.00 H × .3 D inches
    Backlist | Poetry | Bisac: POE011000
    Rights: WORLD

Structured in three parts, On the Material is a meditation on language, geography, socio-economics and the body, moving from the glut of fossil-fuelled consumer excess to the materiality of a single book.

Composed almost entirely of quatrains (each page being comprised of four four-line stanzas) and written while travelling through North America in 2008, “4 × 4” navigates issues of space and movement in the global age. As economies crumble, ecosystems fail and peak oil approaches, Collis records the production of a disarticulation of social discourse that our consumer society has generated: “After all we made money out of matter here / Now condos shield us from the computer hum / Of on-line trading and wars ?ash on ?at screens / As 4 × 4s cool and ping mud covered in double garages.”

In its bridging second section, “I Fought the Lyric and the Lyric Won,” the desire to express wins out over the desire to possess. Beauty, contemplation and human communication seem to have abandoned the world, and their absence from the everyday has re-engaged the poet’s struggle with language—has left a need to reinvent human discourse and its attendant relations.

The third section, “Gail’s Books,” is a sequence of poems in memory of Stephen Collis’s sister, Gail Tulloch. A month after Gail’s death from cancer in 2002, a ?re destroyed her house, removing every material reminder of her from the earth. All that remained was one book recovered from a pool of water in the ruins after the ?re. Dried in the air, this book, and those Collis had previously borrowed from his sister, become a way for the poet to read back into the elemental heart of absence and loss—the “material” of the books displacing, and in some way recovering, how language holds the materiality of the physical world.

Winner 2011 BC Book Prize: Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize

“Collis’s poetry draws a direct line from Pablo Neruda and Nicanor Parra….[He] is a force, a vector in modern Canadian Poetry. He writes in front of opinion, but never too far in front to lose engagement…. Words like beauty, pleasure, and liberty do not sound hackneyed. Instead, their writing sounds synonymous with persistence.”
Prairie Fire

By Stephen Collis

Stephen Collis is the author of six books of poetry, including the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize–winning On the Material (Talonbooks, 2010). His memoir, Almost Islands: Phyllis Webb and the Pursuit of the Unwritten, was published by Talonbooks in 2018. He teaches contemporary poetry and poetics at Simon Fraser University. Collis was the 2019 recipient of the Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize, which is given to a mid-career poet in recognition of a remarkable body of work, and in anticipation of future contributions to Canadian poetry.

Read more about Stephen Collis

news | 2011-06-08
Bring it Home, Vancouver!

…at 7:30pm, Stephen Collis will read from his book On the Material, recent winner of the Dorothy Livesay Prize for …

news | 2011-04-27
Weather-Permitting, Poetry is in Bloom in BC!

…My Darling Nellie Grey, and Stephen Collis for On the Material. (Stephen, Gina, and Gary – All Aboard for … had won the Dorothy Livesay Prize for Poetry for On the Material! (Stephen Collis accepting his BC Book Prize. …

news | 2011-04-22
On the Material Wins 2011 BC Book Prize for Poetry!

…won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for his book On the Material! Structured in three parts, On the Material is a …

news | 2011-04-07
BC Book Prizes Northern Leg 2011 Kicks Off Tonight!

…for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for On the Material. …

news | 2011-03-10
Three Talonbooks Poets are Finalists for B.C. Book Prize for Poetry

…Darling Nellie Grey (Talonbooks) Stephen Collis, On the Material (Talonbooks) Jen Currin, The Inquisition Yours …

news | 2010-09-23
Mapping the Rainy City on a Sunday

…locality, including Mine, The Commons, and On the Material. His ongoing collection, “The Barricades …

news | 2010-05-14
Talon Spring Launch at the Edmonton Poetry Festival

…were visibly moved when Stephen Collis read from On the Material, including his outstandingly profound poem …

news | 2010-05-14
Talonbooks Spring Poetry Launch in Calgary

…his structuralist poems about social excess in On the Material, even going so far as to imitate the voice of an …

news | 2010-05-08
Talon Spring Poetry Night in Vancouver

…rhetorical nuances. Then Steve Collis read from On the Material, bringing emotion and form to corporate regard …