Grief is personal and unpredictable; no two people experience it the same way, and yet, each person that comes out the other side is transformed by their experience of loss and redemption.
In a sequence of five feverish elegies, Sandra Ridley’s Silvija combines narrative lyric and experimental verse styles to manifest dark themes related to love and loss: the traumas of psychological suffering (isolation and confinement), physical abuse (by parent and partner), terminal illness (brain tumour and heart attack), revelation, resolution, and healing. Pulsing with the award-winning writer’s signature blend of fervour and sangfroid, the serial poems in Silvija accrue into a book-length testament to a grief both personal and human, leaving readers with the redemptive grace that comes from poetry’s ability to wrestle chaos into meaning.
“While the effect of Ridley’s short phrases staccato and accumulate into a complex tapestry that refuses anything straightforward, the emotional content is raw, savage and brutally stark.”
—rob mclennan’s blog
“Ridley achieves a remarkable feat by revitalizing the overused and bland imagery of death.” —Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press
“Beautifully designed, Silvija is a structural whole, a beautiful web of language, doing elegy as a constrained & compelling dance of words.” —Douglas Barbour, Eclectic Ruckus
VERSeFest Spotlight: An Interview with Kitchissippi poet Sandra Ridley —Kitchissippi Times
“Silvija’s recent Griffin nomination is a welcome confirmation of Ridley’s place in the first rank of Canadian poetry.” —JM Francheteau, Arc Poetry Magazine
CBC Radio One’s Interview with Griffin Prize finalist Sandra Ridley —Alan Neal, All in a Day
Judges’ Citation of Silvija for the Griffin Poetry Prize:
“The poems in Sandra Ridley’s book are potent and beguiling. Words are given the space they need to root and branch. This pace of them engages with the unarticulated, the hidden, the unbearable as readers encounter five elegies that allude to and invoke trauma, shame, and a profound sense of loss. Given the themes at work in this collection, silence is an essential part of the reading. Ridley conducts and curates that space as liminal. Here’s where we understand the scope of the work and concede to bearing witness. Here’s where we understand that we will be haunted. And from that silence, the words that emerge have been given the time they need to properly cure and to season in the poem’s atmosphere. They reach, as words do, singular and fluent. Ridley’s language is persuasive and ripe. ‘[N]arrow your eyes to the now,’ the poem requests. Here is ‘a shame unleashed by plain talk’. Beneath these elegies, there is a current, a reprise praising the healer. This current is another root system, an ongoing poem, essential to the collection.” —Griffin Poetry Prize
Multiple-award-winning poet, instructor, and editor Sandra Ridley is the author of three books of poetry: Fallout (winner of a 2010 Saskatchewan Book Award and the Alfred G. Bailey Prize); Post-Apothecary (finalist for the ReLit and Archibald Lampman Awards); and The Counting House (published by BookThug in 2013; finalist for the Archibald Lampman Award and chosen as one of the top five poetry books of 2013 in Quill & Quire’s Readers’ Poll). In 2015, Ridley was a finalist for the KM Hunter Artist Award for Literature. She lives in Ottawa.