A Nervous City

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By: Chris Pannell

April 2013
80 pages | ISBN 978-1-894987-74-5

**Winner of the Kerry Schooley Award – Hamilton Literary Awards**

Whether it is the roads that weave through his native Hamilton, or the crowded streets of Cairo where tourists, it seems, are forbidden to walk, Pannell captures the hum and energy that animates these urban spaces in his latest collection. With an eye for the unexpected and genuine understanding of the common man, Pannell crosses and recrosses the city with his deft lines. In the end, A Nervous City walks the reader down streets they thought they knew but now see in a completely different light.

“The Yellow Vest”

The bright reflective vest of
road workers, police officers
is a loose authority that steps up, after a window shatters
after a loss of light. A brutal yellow that could have only
been made in a chemistry lab, something from which
to avert your eyes, like a concrete sidewalk through a field of corn.
You survived the wreckage, your ex-car towed away.

Even after you let go of the officer
his yellow über-plastic vest
continued to smell like oil
while you hid your face in your hands.

Hours later you note
the purple velvet of sky, of dusk
while travelling in a crowded coach –

white headlights of fear
red tail-lights of anger.


Shelf Life (Jessica Rose, Hamilton Magazine, 01/08/2013)
"It may be gritty, and at times dark, but it’s Pannell’s ability to infuse moments of light that makes the collection shine."


Poets Rock Harbourfront (Susan G. Cole, Now Magazine, 03/04/2014)
"And how many times will you hear a reference to Toronto’s sad hockey team at a poetry contest? Thank Chris Pannell for changing the game."


Chris Pannell - A Nervous City (an interview) (The Toronto Quarterly, 09/08/2013)
“I’m not worried about how readers come at it, or what they take away from A Nervous City. I just wanted to render what these [modern] days are like. The internet has made us aware of more and more news from farther and farther off. It has shrunk the world. If ignorance is bliss, are we still comfortable with knowing, or thinking we know so much? We’ve got plenty to take responsibility for.”

Chris Pannell Q&A (Poetry Cobourg, 15/11/2012)
"More than any of my other books, A Nervous City is an attempt to get at the anxiety of modern times, to suggest that the sameness of globalization is changing us in important and frightening ways. A Nervous City is a little less personal than Drive, a little more challenging in its politics."


Chris Pannell reads the title poem of A Nervous City at the Toronto poetry launch in April.

Other Titles by Chris Pannell

Drive (2009)

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