Saturday, January 22, 2022

new from above/ground press: Calling to the Sun: Poems for Isabella Wang

Calling to the Sun: Poems for Isabella Wang
edited by Stephen Collis

with contributions by:
Manahil Bandukwala
Otoniya J. Okot Bitek
Yvonne Blomer
Stephen Collis
Zoe Dagneault
Diana Hayes
Erica Hiroko Isomura
Fiona Tinwei Lam
Jen Sookfong Lee
Natalie Lim
Tanis MacDonald
rob mclennan
Hasan Namir
Chimedum Ohaegbu
Tolu Oloruntoba
Arleen Paré
Rob Taylor

Towards the end of 2021 many of us in the Canadian poetry community learned of Isabella Wang’s illness. In a short period of time, this young poet’s generosity and enthusiasm has touched and moved so many—I joke sometimes, that I’ve yet to find a poet who doesn’t already know Isabella. What can we do for our sick friend? This little collection is one thing—poets singing out to encourage, to let her know we are here, that we love her, that we need her remarkable poetic voice, and that we will keep her in our thoughts and hearts until she is well again. Dear Isabella, we hope you find something here to pick you up and fortify you for the journey you are on. At the very least, remember: this is where you belong, amongst the poets, in the long conversation poetry entails. From your beautiful Pebble Swing to all the books you still have to write, we are waiting to continue this conversation.
—Stephen Collis

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
January 2022
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy


Manahil Bandukwala
is a writer and artist. She loves love poems.

Otoniya J. Okot Bitek is a poet. She lives on the traditional and ancestral lands of the Anishnabe and Haudensaunee people in Kingston.

Yvonne Blomer (she/her) lives in Victoria, BC on Lək̓ʷəŋən territory. The Last Show on Earth, her fifth book of poetry, is forthcoming with Caitlin Press in 2022. She was Victoria’s poet laureate from 2015-2018.

Stephen Collis is the author, most recently, of A History of the Theories of Rain (Talonbooks 2021).

Zoe Dagneault is a poet completing her Masters of Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia. She Lives with her family on the territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ.

Diana Hayes was born in Toronto and has lived on both coasts of Canada. She received her BA (UVIC and MFA (UBC) in creative writing and has six published books of poetry, most recently Gold in the Shadow: Twenty-Two Ghazals and a Cento for Phyllis Webb.

Erica Hiroko Isomura is an essayist, poet, cultural producer, and a Scorpio.

Fiona Tinwei Lam has published three poetry collections and a children’s book, co-edited two nonfiction anthologies and edited The Bright Well: Contemporary Canadian Poems on Facing Cancer. Isabella was the youngest student to attend a poetry course at SFU Continuing Studies co-taught by Fiona and Evelyn Lau. Isabella’s enthusiasm and devotion to poetry made an indelible impression on everyone.

Jen Sookfong Lee is the author of The Conjoined, nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award and a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and The Better Mother, a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award. She is an acquiring editor for ECW Press and co-hosts the literary podcast Can’t Lit.

Natalie Lim is a Chinese-Canadian poet living on the unceded, traditional territories of the Musquem, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples (Vancouver, BC). She is the winner of the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize and her debut chapbook, arrhythmia, is forthcoming from Rahila's Ghost Press in early 2022.

Tanis MacDonald is the author of seven books and a free-range literary animal. She lives in Waterloo, Ontario, and first met Isabella at a reading for The New Quarterly.

rob mclennan lives in Ottawa, despite being born there. His latest collection is the book of smaller (University of Calgary Press 2022). He has not actually met Isabella Wang in person yet, but a chapbook of hers is forthcoming through his above/ground press.

Hasan Namir is an Iraqi-Canadian author and poet.

Chimedum Ohaegbu
is an editor with Uncanny Magazine, a poet, and a writer of speculative fiction. As far as she can recall—though her memory’s fuzzy—she met Isabella at her (Chimedum’s) very first reading, and felt encouraged immediately.

Tolu Oloruntoba is a writer from Nigeria that now lives and works in the metro area of Coast Salish lands known as Vancouver. His new poetry collection, Each One a Furnace, is forthcoming from McClelland & Stewart in Spring 2022.

Arleen Paré is a Victoria writer with eight collections of poetry, including a recent chapbook.  She has been short-listed for the BC Dorothy Livesay BC Award for Poetry and has won the American Golden Crown Award for Poetry, the Victoria Butler Book Prize, a CBC Bookie Award, and a Governor Generals’ Award for Poetry.

Rob Taylor taught Isabella Wang in her first creative writing class. He thought, “That person is very talented and possesses a frightening level of enthusiasm. They will go far,” and he’s very pleased to see that’s proven true.

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; in US, add $2; outside North America, add $5) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9. E-transfer or PayPal at rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

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