One sure sign of spring in Canada is the new crop of poetry books that welcome the lengthening days and melting snow. One fierce and urgent collection making waves in the spring 2023 line up is ryan fitzpatrick's Sunny Ways (forthcoming in April from Invisible Publishing), a wry and biting poetic examination of the climate crisis.
fitzpatrick, who serves as publisher at the online initiative Model Press, explores environmental racism and the capitalist drive to exploit natural resources at the expense of responsible climate strategies through tightly-written, lyrical pieces that mix rage, sardonic fatigue in the face of the overwhelming issues, and glimmers of hope for the future. Informed by a childhood in Calgary, where oil dominated all economic and practical concerns, fitzpatrick got a front row seat to the denialism to empty politicking he unpacks in the collection. Balanced with the evergreen human desire in many to fight the good fight, Sunny Ways follows in the footsteps of poets who have explored climate anxiety and disaster in their work like Stephen Collis and Rita Wong.
We're sharing an excerpt today courtesy of Invisible Publishing, where we see fitzpatrick's razor-sharp lines, subtle dark humour, and playful language combine to create a timely and feverishly readable collection.
Excerpt from Sunny Ways by ryan fitzpatrick:
‘Don’t cry for thee, Athabasca.
The truth is oil never left you’
what song is this
that dreams of stability
while so much just flies off
you ask a sapling
how it lives in the twenty-first century
but that sapling is a literary device
some vague gesture to the frame’s edge
to Wordsworth and Tintern Abbey
to the smug condescension of nature poetry
and the smugger materiality of ecopoetry
you don’t want any of these
but do want to walk through your neighbourhood
to wander under the canopy
and think about the uneven distribution of light
from Le Corbusier’s utopian redesign
of cities around sunlight
to the way bourgeois streets
are lined with trees
isn’t shade just another scarce resource
in the ongoing climate wars
you read about on Gizmodo
Chennai’s run out of water
4.65 million people live there
‘reservoirs into muddy splats
mix desalinization plants
water by train and truck
shifts the hydrological cycle
only rain can save Chennai
not nearly enough to reverse
baking in drought
with weak planning’
city on the edge of a crater
how do you live in the twenty-first century
taking a sip of San Pellegrino
through a straw you just banned
because a straw is a kind of pipeline
you can ban without letting go of something
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Excerpt taken from Sunny Ways by ryan fitzpatrick. Published by Invisible Publishing. Copyright © ryan fitzpatrick, 2023. Reprinted with permission.
ryan fitzpatrick is the publisher of the online-based and poetry-focused Model Press. He was on the editorial collective of filling Station magazine and helped found the Flywheel Reading Series. He is the author of four books of poetry, including Sunny Ways (Invisible Publishing) and Coast Mountain Foot (Talonbooks). A former resident of Calgary and Vancouver, ryan now lives in Toronto.