By Kelly Norah Drukker

Winner of the 2016 A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry
Winner of the 2016 Concordia University First Book Prize
Finaliste pour le Grand Prix du livre de Montréal (2016)

Poems that illustrate the stories that lie buried in landscapes and in human lives.

Tracing a series of journeys, real and imagined, Kelly Norah Drukker’s Small Fires opens with a section of poems set on Inis Mór, a remote, Irish-speaking island off the west coast of County Galway, where the poet-as-speaker discovers the ways in which remnants of the island’s early Christian monastic culture brush up against island life in the twenty-first century.

Also present is a series of poems set in the Midi-Pyrénées and in the countryside around Lyon. Linked to the shorter poems in the collection by landscape, theme, and tone is a set of longer narrative poems that give voice to imagined speakers who are, each in a different way, living on the margins. The first describes a young emigrant woman’s crossing from Ireland to Canada in the early twentieth century, where she must sacrifice her tie to the land for the uncertain freedom of a journey by sea, while a second depicts the lives of silk workers living under oppressive conditions in Lyon in the 1830s.

In detailed and musical language, the poems in Small Fires highlight aspects of landscape and culture in regions that are haunted by marginal and silenced histories. The collection concludes with a long poem written as a response to American writer Paul Monette’s autobiographical work Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir.

-Published by McGill-Queen’s University Press, Hugh MacLennan Poetry Series, #36

“Like love letters that tear apart brutal secrets of land, legacy, and the breaking down that occurs in the shadows, this collection . . . resonates with the rawness of displacement and belonging.”
Jurors’ comments, A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry

“If one were to make a colour palette for Small Fires, it would be a watercolour of stones and derelict wood greys, dusky blues, a smear of rainy green through a window, the creosote of town, as rage by morning dies down to “murmur / through stovepipes.”” –Montreal Review of Books

Small Fires is available in Canada and internationally. It can be purchased through your local bookseller, or online.

Canadian Booksellers:

Montreal – Paragraphe Librairie/BookstoreThe WordLibrairie Bertrand Bookstore; Drawn & Quarterly; Indigo

Toronto – U of T Bookstore; Bob Miller BookroomAnother Story Bookshop

Halifax – Bookmark

Online Orders: 

McGill-Queen’s University Press

Available through Amazon outlets in Canada, the US, the UK and Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, India

Available in Australia and New Zealand through Booktopia and Fishpond


Montreal area: Catalogue Nelligan