Catalysts: Confrontations with the muse

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By: Catherine Owen

April 2012
144 pages | ISBN 978-1-894987-59-2

With her characteristic fearlessness Catherine Owen examines what drives her to write and the influences that shape her writing. From her childhood memories in suburban Vancouver to her willingness to risk all for a glimpse of her muse, the essays in Catalysts allow readers unparalleled insight into Owen’s creative life. A brilliantly honest collection, these essays should be read by every aspiring author.


Read the introduction and first two essays from Catalysts: Confrontations with the muse.


"Language to Live By" (Tiffany Johnstone, Canadian Literature, 01/04/2014)
"Catalysts abounds in inter-textual references that challenge us to abandon lingering perceptions of art as a pure or timeless aesthetic practice. What we have instead is a polyphonic 'mishmash' of 'language and rhythm,' a conversation rich in peculiarities."

Owen moves from strong to weak and back (Philip K. Thompson, Chronicle Herald, 26/08/2012)
“Best of all, Owen describes the essential tension between performance or spoken word poetry, and poems written for the printed page. Her advice to poets and performers in these distinct, but related genres, is the best I’ve ever heard.”

Review (Mark Sampson, Free Range Reading, 22/07/2012)
"Catalysts is a testament to a life immersed in poetic forms, a searching for truth through the prismatic (and often cruel) facets of circumstance and self."

Review (Anne Burke, Feminist Caucus, 09/07/2012)
"This is an extraordinary collection of contemplations, revelations, and confabulations from an accomplished poet."


Raw Throat & Bloody Knuckles: The Writing of Catherine Owen (Natalie Zina Walschots, 23/04/2013)
Owen is a poet of the raw throat and bloody knuckle. Free from guile and affectation, she speaks from a place of authenticity, passion and genuine urgency. Even during her most sophisticated attempts at essay or exegesis, Owen remains unafraid to leap into the pit at a moment’s notice and throw herself against the muse, a personal demon or any other spectre that may emerge. Her work is as steely-eyed as it is steel-toed."


"I am fine with being marginal": Poet and essayist Catherine Owen (Steven W. Beattie, That Shakespearean Rag, 10/01/2013)

Catherine Owen, Equinox and Solstice (Canadian Poets Petting Cats, 10/07/2012)
"I think Catalysts is more a companion to my poetry books in the end, never seeking to reductively explicate them but instead engaging in an elaboration of their quirks and meanderings and sinkholes. A decade plus of ruminations and asides on the art of the foolish word-musician."


Catherine Owen and Sydney Lancaster read an excerpt from "Engaging Space: Collaborations on the Berm with Sydney Lancaster" from her non-fiction collection, Catalysts: Confrontations with the muse in Toronto in May 2012.

Other Titles by Catherine Owen

Dear Ghost, (2017)

The Other 23 & a Half Hours: Or Everything You Wanted to Know that Your MFA Didn't Teach You (2015)

Seeing Lessons (2010)

Shall: ghazals (2006)

Wrecks of Eden (2001)

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