Shared Universe: New and Selected Poems 1995-2020

Shared Universe: New and Selected Poems 1995-2020


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“An invaluable aid in this time of troubled spirits, muddled truths, and convoluted thinking.” — Mark Mothersbaugh, Devo

Paul Vermeersch has reinvented the “new and selected.” Bringing together the very best of his poetry from the last quarter century with new and never-before-published works, Shared Universe is a sprawling chronicle of the dawn of civilizations, the riddles of 21st-century existence, and any number of glorious, or menacing, futures. Selected poetry collections are traditionally organized according to the books in which the poems first appeared, but these poems are arranged by prophecy and mythos, corresponding to the human (or trans-human) body, or as dictated by animal speech. In this universe, time is thematic instead of chronological, and space is aesthetic rather than voluminous. Here, alongside popular favourites, are recently unearthed gems and visionary new poems that reveal the books hidden within the books of one of Canada’s most distinctive and imaginative poets.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781770412248
Publisher: ECW Press
Publication date: 09/01/2020
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Paul Vermeersch is a poet, multimedia artist, creative writing professor, and literary editor. He is the author of several poetry collections, including the Trillium Award-nominated The Reinvention of the Human Hand and, most recently, Self-Defence for the Brave and Happy. He holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph for which he received the Governor General’s Gold Medal. His poems have been translated into Polish, German, Spanish, and French and have appeared in international anthologies. He teaches at Sheridan College and is the founding editor of Buckrider Books, an imprint of Wolsak & Wynn Publishers Ltd. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Read an Excerpt

SHARED UNIVERSE                     


You and the ice cream truck and the King

Cobra all exist in the same universe as

the two-legged tortoise, the Star Queen Nebula,

and me. Eventually, there must be a story

that involves all six of us: you will be driving

the ice cream truck among the furthest stars

in search of His Majesty King Cobra, despite

his famous venom, despite his propensity

to strike, and I will follow behind you riding

the wounded tortoise, the front wheels

of a plastic Batmobile glued to her shell

as prostheses. These are the forms we will take

when we encounter the Star Queen in her home,

the pillars of creation billowing from her head.


And there is King Cobra, coiling his long body

around the pillars, emanating from her third eye

as Uraeus from the forehead of a pharaoh.
“You have come here,” he says, “to learn

what you already know: that you exist

in the same universe as ice cream, Batmobiles 

and the act of mutilation.” New stars are fusing

within the pillars, and within the stars, new-born

elements: hydrogen, beryllium, carbon, iron…

“Use these to make an apple,” the serpent says.

“Or make it out of gold, it’s all the same.” And now

a blind donkey arrives behind us, and a silvery

porpoise, and an immense hypothetical mountain,

and we all nod knowingly, knowing what we know.

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