Invasive Speciesis the eagerly awaited debut collection from poet Claire Caldwell. In these poems the calamities of climate change and the dangers of the natural world are juxtaposed against the intimacies of daily life. You will hear the voice of a woman, mauled to death by a bear, asking only to be remembered for her courage. Wildcats invade condominium balconies. A girl learns how natural it feels to hold a shotgun. And in “Osteogenesis,” the prize-winning final sequence, you will hear the beautifully entwined stories of a student named M, a medical school cadaver, a pair of young lovers and the body of a blue whale decomposing at the bottom of the sea. Caldwell renders all of these improbable connections in startlingly original verse, alive with compassion and wit.
Excerpt: "Grizzly Woman"
For Amie Huguenard
I arrive like a drug
plunged through a central line.
Amber, translucent. Flushed
into Kaflia a third season,
rust-flecked hills spread
like a girl's legs.
From the seaplane, the alders
are a fistful of curls. Tim sprouts:
mustard seed, dandelion, life-sized.
In the maze, survival's an illusion
of scale: you're bear or blackfly.
The floats kiss the lake.
"Invasive Species" (Ariel Kusby, Hunger Mountain, 03/04/2017)
"Caldwell’s poems are skillful in their ability to investigate large topics like climate change in a relatable and interesting way. The poems are often full of dissonance and strange juxtapositions that reflect our relationships with the planet and each other."
Review (Mark Sampson, Free Range Reading, 04/01/2015)
“These poems are as poignant, assured and cagey as poetry gets. Caldwell shows an incredible deftness for building the tension and emotion in a poem up to a pulverizing finish. On several occasions, her closing lines left me short of breath.”
"Invasive Species" (Michael Dennis, Michael Dennis, 13/12/2014)
“Caldwell plays with our imagination like a puppet-master, or a cat with a mouse. This is careful, precise poetry that rolls on the page as if it were being riffed on the spot, live and mercurial.”
"Rising Authors You Need to Meet" (Deborah Dundas, Toronto Star, 24/10/2015)
Deborah Dundas profiled 10 debut authors reading at this year's Internation Festival of Authors.
"IFOA Preview: Latosik & Caldwell in Conversation" (Jeff Latosik, Guelph Creative Writing MFA, 14/10/2015)
“Once a poem is out in the world, it can have so many different meanings, resonances, layers...regardless of our intent.”
"Top 2,014 Things of 2014: 20 Books (Plus 3 Comics!)" (National Post Staff, National Post, 31/12/2014)
“Claire Caldwell’s musical sensibility is well served in her debut, Invasive Speicies, where doom wrought by climate change and other too-human bad behaviour is brought to the intimacy of the laundry line, of one’s desk drawer full of inert pencils.”
"The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with Claire Caldwell" (Grace O'Connell, Open Book Toronto, 02/10/2014)
“Hamilton publisher Wolsak & Wynn has a knack for finding great new poetic voices and Claire Caldwell is an excellent addition to their prestigious list….Claire’s vibrant, witty collection has been anticipated for some time, and with good cause.”
"Fall Preview Week: Day Three, Evan Munday's Picks" (Evan Munday, All Lit Up, 24/09/2014)
“Caldwell is a poet whose debut book I've been looking forward to for quite a long time…. Her book, Invasive Species, looks like it will be nature-based, but perhaps not in the way you'd usually expect: a poem written from the perspective of a woman mauled to death by a bear, a paean to a blue whale decomposing at the bottom of the sea, ecological catastrophe. This is nature poetry I can get behind!”
"Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2014 Poetry Preview" (Kerry Clare, 49th Shelf, 18/08/2014)
Kerry Clare lists Invasive Species as one of their most anticipated poetry books of fall 2014.
"In Conversation with Claire Caldwell" (Ariel Gordon, The Winnipeg Free Press, 14/03/2015)
"People keep asking me how long it took me to write the book, and my best answer is, 'my whole life.' Obviously, none of the poems I wrote in Grade 7 made it into the collection (RIP Song of the Licorice Tree), but it does feel like all of my writing efforts from childhood until now led to or culminated in this final product. Which makes writing a second one daunting!"
Claire Caldwell reads "American Vacation" and "Grizzly Woman" at the Wolsak and Wynn fall 2014 launch in Toronto on October 2.