Monthly Archives: February 2019

Notes from a Charmed life



Again, I’ve been much remiss in updating this here blog. I’m pleased to note that Charm (Bookhug 2017) won the Archibald Lampman Award for Poetry.  The jury said nice things:

“Christine McNair’s second collection, Charm (Book*hug, 2017), brings dignity and awe to sensuality and impermanence. Fragility is experienced as strength as she examines motherhood, marriage, women’s bodies, alongside a longing for sovereignty. Both decay and intimacy reverberate throughout the collection, with deft, inventive and provocative uses of language and syntax. In Charm, McNair shows us unique truths in unexpected and mesmerizing ways, compelling our attention again and again.”

It was unexpected and involved a dizzy flight from Toronto to attend the awards ceremony then back again. I was lucky enough to read a couple months prior with the other shortlisted poets — Adele Graf (math for couples, Guernica Editions) and Shane Rhodes (Dead White Men, Coach House Books). Gratitude to my first readers (Rob, Sandy, Amy, Amanda) and my editor (Margaret Christakos) and Bookhug themselves (Jay and Hazel). Also gratitude to Kate Hargreaves who took my photo of a damaged wood panel painting and augmented the damage through to the titling. There was hesitation when I suggested the image to my publishers because of the madonna but I felt the resonance of the damage, the weirdness of the unicorn hunting (not quite on point for the typical use thereof) and the eyes hit me in the gut. So I was pleased when we ended up there in the end.

I feel lucky anyways. Embedded bit of good metal in the fingers.

I’ve also been remiss to note that I’ve been fortunate enough to have some reviews for Charm. Here are some places:

Charm is a spell-caster of vivid turns and angles, whirling with McNair’s clever, dark humour. In this volume, she visits with a macro theme of care – for children, objects, and bewitchingly, language. It’s the vehicle of language, books, that reaps a compelling amount of attention.” —Elee Kraljii Gardiner, Poetry is Dead (review content not online)

“Christine McNair, tackles subjects of conception, from literal pregnancy to the more figurative conception of art. The poems hover around an overarching theme of making and unmaking, but their expansiveness allows for each to remain distinct and precise.” — Canadian Literature, “Charmed” by Andrea MacPherson.

Charm is a skillfully crafted collection and will surely captivate any lover of language.” —Megan Callahan, Vallum Magazine, Issue 14:2 (review content not online)

“McNair uses a fragmentary, fractured line and crashing repetitions to suggest conception as a craft of its own sort of traumatic work.” —Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press 

I also gave at least one interview:

Christine McNair on How Life Events Impact Writing & the Seismic Effect of Great Books Open Book

I did some readings. The spring launch for Bookhug in Toronto and then various Ottawa readings such as Ottawa Writers Festival (Plan99 event), VerseFest, the Tree Reading Series, Sawdust Reading series and some other little bits. I particularly enjoyed ripping apart a copy of my book at VerseFest.

rob and I were able to participate in a Queen Mob’s reading during my research trip to the UK (more below) and I also read as part of the Resonance series in Montreal. But I wish I could’ve read more outside of Ottawa, pushed a bit into some western or eastern provinces, closer to when my book is released. Ah well. Time, young kids, time.

I was fortunate enough to go to the UK where the primary purpose of my trip was to research a new writing project. Something mixed genre relating to pre-eclampsia. I’m not sure what it will be entirely yet but I was able to spend some time with 17th century midwifery handbooks and 19th century theories of ‘the disease of theories’. I find pre-e fascinating and terrifying beyond my personal connection to the disease.

Brilliant time in the reading room. Quiet but for the tip tapping of my keyboard. Book cradles & blissful research.