“Ethereal and elegant, Camia’s reflections are grounded in grief as they do the aching, earth-shattering work of mourning and moving forward”. (Photo supplied)

Poet confronts despair in loss

By Ted Alcuitas

Shirley Camia has always been exploring grief and loss in her poetry beginning with her second book, The Significance of Moths (Turnstone Press, 2015) about her grandmother.

Now comes ‘Mercy’ which is a tribute to her mother.

Publisher Turnstorne Press has this to say about Mercy:

“Expanding breathlessly in the magnitude of loss, Shirley Camia’s fourth collection, Mercy, confronts despair to emerge anew with a bright offering of elegy. Beginning at her mother’s hospital bed, Camia invites readers to keep vigil while she journeys through seasons of bereavement, from the wake to the graveside, and into a year of processing, searching, and healing. Ethereal and elegant, Camia’s reflections are grounded in grief as they do the aching, earth-shattering work of mourning and moving forward.”  

The Winnipeg-born and raised Camia is the author of the award-winning Children Shouldn’t Use Knives (At Bay Press, 2017), The Significance of Moths (Turnstone Press, 2015), and Calliope (Libros Libertad, 2011). 

how long do i have 

a question i can’t answer
a question that howls
a question that travels in a pack 

how did this happen why
did i do enough
did i do it right where will i go 

when did i get so old 

— “Feeding the Wolves,” from Mercy by Shirley Camia 

What Camia captures so authentically in Mercy is the timelessness of loss. These poems evoke an elegiac mode that is as age-old as grief itself, while also inventing surprising ways to write around the perimeters of what’s absent. It’s a tribute to her mother’s passing that invited me in with directness and generosity. From the remnants and rituals, from these “pieces that summon a whole/ (hole),” these poems offer a fragile and continuous “treasure.” 

— Phoebe Wang, Admission Requirements 

Mercy will be launched in Winnipeg on May 9, 2019 at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Avenue, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Those who are unable to attend the McNally book launch can tune in to a live stream of the event on our Facebook page, and will have the opportunity to post questions in real-time for the Q&A session. 

It will be followed by a reading at the  International Poetry Festival Bridgewater, Virginia on May 16, 2019.
Bridgewater College, 402 East College Street, Carter Center Concert Hall, 7 p.m. 

Toronto’s event will be on Friday, May 10, 2019 at the Knife Fork Book, 244 Augusta Avenue, 2nd floor, The Dark Side Studio, 7 p.m. 

Camia will be joined at this event by two Filipino authors – Adrian de Leon and  Patria Rivera.

ADRIAN DE LEON is an Abagatan (Southern) Ilokano writer and cultural educator from Baranggay Bagong Tanyag in Manila by way of Scarborough, Ontario. His debut collection is Rouge (Mawenzi House, 2018). He teaches Philippine histories in university classrooms, community events, and martial arts gyms. He lives in Toronto.

PATRIA RIVERA’s first poetry collection, Puti/White (Frontenac House Media, 2005), was shortlisted for the Canadian Trillium Book Award for Poetry. She has also published two other poetry books, The Bride Anthology and BE. Her fourth poetry collection, The Time Between, was released last year. 

Vancouver’s event will be on on Sunday, May 26, 2019 at Massy Books, 229 E. Georgia Street, 3 p.m. Poet and author Shirley Camia will be launching her new poetry collection, Mercy, in the Massy Gallery at 3pm on May 26th.

Camia’s work has been featured in publications such as The New Quarterly, CV2, TAYO and the Winnipeg Free Press, as well as the anthologies, Endlessly Rocking (Unbound Content, 2019) and My Lot is a Sky (Math Paper Press, 2018).

Born in Winnipeg, the former CBC broadcast journalist has lived across Canada, the Philippines, Japan and Kenya. She is currently based in Copenhagen, Denmark where she works as Associate Fundraising Communication Officer for the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR.