Okay, little torch. It’s time
I got to work once more.
Hitching my constellation
of allusions to you.
Forthcoming September 5, 2023 with icehouse poetry/Goose Lane Editions.
Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
Breaking open John Keats’s “Last Sonnet,” Ali Blythe writes marginality into the canon, at once claiming, reviving, and un-fixing the Romantic vision.
Taking place over one night, the poet in bed next to a sleeping lover, Blythe’s revelatory poems struggle with questions of illusion and reality, immersion and escapism, that which endures and that which is transient.
Held taut in formal quivers of short lines, each poem is shot through with eros — to address, to dress and undress, the subject of the love poem and perhaps love itself.
"If I could make a shelter to cover my human skin, in the forest maybe, to dream, the pages of this book would be every needed thing to vibrate anew. Ali Blythe writes the kind of poems I always want in my life, a laser focus dancing down the page! Blythe is the Nijinsky of poetry for our precarious world, "one myth / dissolving within / another, risking / our own nihility.
— CAConrad, author of Amanda Paradise
"Stedfast is one of those books that reminds me why I love poetry. “Each new day is cut / from the key of the last:” if the same is true of each new poem, here’s a set of gleaming keys cut from Keats’s sonnet. Where Keats’s bright star shines stedfastly, Blythe’s star offers an unsteady light, a more precarious universe. Instead of longing for constancy, the lyric “I” of Stedfast loves and desires within the quivering here and now — and the poignancy of this love gives me all the feels.
— Sue Sinclair, author of Almost Beauty
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Spring 2019 with icehouse poetry/Goose Lane Editions.
Dorothy Livesay BC Book Prize finalist
Winner of the Vallum Award for Poetry 2017
Two National Magazine Award nominations
"Blythe brings a mastery of precision and cadence to bear in creating poems that pulse with emotion, complexity and vulnerability
— CBC spring preview [...]
"With incredible economy of language and dialectical drama at the levels of sentence and caesura, Blythe delivers taut yet expansive hymns from 'the golden-throated era / of the hormone'
— Quill & Quire starred review [...]
"Blythe’s sense of orchestration is on fullest display…. It’s exciting to see a writer so conscious of building a body of work within and across collections, pursuing not just a set of ideas and concerns but an artistic vision
"Hymnswitch...makes an important contribution to the field of trans poetics
"You...have been invited into an intimate space, to wear the poet’s skin for a moment, to hold his breath
"Strategies of paradox, crystalline hermetic eloquences, are...on display in Ali Blythe’s second poetry collection, Hymnswitch
— The Malahat Review
"I kept handing the book to friends, saying, 'Read this—it’s so smart.' When I finished the last page, I read it again, which is something I almost never do [...]
— Walrus Top Ten Books of 2019 by Zoe Whittall
"I just completely devoured...Hymnswitch
— Writer's Trust Recommended Read by Adam Sol
"Ali Blythe pierces your skins, awakening perceptions you had allowed to settle under the surface.
— matthew heinz, author of Entering Transmasculinity
"Hymnswitch wears the good, solid boots of language to trek through the unsendable here of daily decision
— Derek Beaulieu, Calgary Poet Laureate, 2014-2016
"An intimate, attentive, and patiently affecting book that lives up to all of the possibilities of its title
— TC Tolbert, Tucson Poet Laureate
Fall 2015 with icehouse poetry/Goose Lane Editions.
Honour of Distinction from Writers Trust of Canada: Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ emerging writers
Dorothy Livesay BC Book Prize finalist
"Blythe's stark, deft poems build a spectacular debut [...]
— Winnipeg Free Press
"Stunning and true
"perhaps incurring the most dog-eared pages ever [...]
— The Puritan
"His thoughts stretched wide, longing in between, Blythe illuminates a world both ruined and beautiful [...]
— Jury Citation, Writers Trust of Canada
"His poetry is a potent form of touch
— The Bull Calf
"intelligent and charming, jangly and jarring, moody, dreamy and a little bit deadly
— herizons Magazine
"Twoism compresses fizzing desire into a staccato mythic-demotic
— The Malahat Review (2020)
"Twoism is heavily coded with binary and dualisms, strewn with cloaks, masks, animal skins and sick blankets, and rich with literary allusion
— Event Poetry and Prose
"wry observation and a chaotic wit....a welcome voice in the dark, cleaving and binding of our immaterial desires to our bodies [...]
— Arc Poetry Magazine
"[Blythe is a] surreal engineer of language
— The Scene London
"[Poems from Twoism] remind me of that feeling when you look up at the sky and and have this realization of how vast everything is and you feel so small [...]
— Quill & Quire
"At the heart of Ali Blythe’s courageous debut collection is a bruising search for identity [...]
— The Malahat Review (2016)
"Blythe’s poems are permeable; they breathe; they create space for identities and expressions that wash away, that are “unable to be,” that are unable to achieve being’s solidity and certainty and don’t really want to anyways
"I keep circling back to [Blythe's] poems - they go so simply, steadily to your heart
"I photocopied half-a-dozen poems out of this book and mailed them to my friends
— New Book in the House
"You pick up a poetry book and open the pages and sometimes you are transported. And that's what happened to me with...Twoism
— Sheryl MacKay, CBC North by Northwest
"Blythe’s poetry deftly mingles humour and hardship to capture the beauty and tragedy of the everyday.
— Room Magazine
"the edgy poetry collection that set minds and hearts afire
— Jane Eaton Hamilton, author of Weekend
"Blythe is as disarming as dangerous....In every poem, there is the chance you will be caught unprepared
— Ian Williams, author of Personals
"Right from the first poem, Blythe pulls you down the rabbit hole of desire.
— Betsy Warland, author of Breathing the Page
"Blythe has created Twoism out of muscle and mirrors, shadow and light, throwing words as though they are knives in a circus act; risky, but with steady aim, each word lands sharp and close to the skin.
— Arleen Paré, author of Lake of Two Mountains
Photo by Melanie Siebert
Ali Blythe is author of critically acclaimed poetry collections that explore trans-poetics.
He is winner of the Vallum Award for Poetry, twice finalist for the Dorothy Livesay BC Book Award and recipient of an honour of distinction from the Writers Trust of Canada for emerging LGBTQ writers.
Blythe’s poems and essays are published in national and international literary journals and anthologies, including The Broadview Introduction to Literature in 2018, and Best Canadian Essays and Best Canadian Poetry in 2019.
Blythe has held roles as a guest editor for special editions of literary magazines including The League of Canadian Poets, Arc Magazine and Malahat Review, and as editor-in-chief for the Claremont Review, an international literary magazine for youth. Ali Blythe, poet.