In the title poem of her debut collection of poetry, To Speak, Michelle Elrick writes: “My silence seems inevitable as if I cannot afford to give anything away. As if I have given it all already, given it to you.” It is the desire to articulate this “silence” that is the heart of To Speak. When the failure of a love affair renders everything irrevocably strange, unutterable, the poet begins a quest in search of the means to be able to “speak” again. It is this journey that the reader is invited to become a part of, traveling by poem on a road trip that will take them both through miles and miles of familiar and uncharted terrain. To Speak begins with “bread”: “I grind my grandmother’s bones to a powder mix a little water from the blue glaciers” and ends with the renewal of spring, and a profound connection with nature, “On the branches, tight knots of new leaf begin their slow unraveling like the loosening of the tongue around a newly repeated name.”
In between there is a rare elegance at work.
Seduced by the quiet yet forceful voice of the speaker readers will find themselves entranced by what a word can have bottled up inside of it. The beauty and strength of Michelle Elrick’s poetry is that it resonates with simplicity and moth-like grace even when it is asking for the world. So when she asks, “Are you a kiln? Are you a can of Krylon?” it does seem entirely possible.
About the Author
Michelle Elrick is a writer and performer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is a graduate of The Writers’ Studio at Simon Fraser University where she studied under the direction of Betsy Warland, Miranda Pearson, Daphne Marlatt and others. Elrick was the recipient of the 2017 Arty Award for Literary Excellence, the 2011 John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer, and was shortlisted for the CBC Literary Award for Poetry in 2015. Her work has appeared in Geist, Prairie Fire, Poetry is Dead, Canadian Literature, Event and other journals. An internationally-received artist, Elrick has read at festivals and events in Minneapolis, Belfast, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Paris, Amsterdam and all across Canada. In addition to her text-based work, she has also written and directed several poetry films, which have screened internationally and been awarded broadcast contracts on CBC television. She is a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada. Michelle’s books include To Speak, then/again, and Photon Touch, a chapbook + studio album of poetry and music created in collaboration with Michael Belyea.