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.
“A remarkably adventurous and fascinating book. The Counting House explores in different registers a failed or failing relationship and the states of mind of someone caught, wretched and in desperate need of escape. The verbal units may be fragmentary, but they assemble with great power in the reader…. Constellating fragments from philosophy, feminism, and nursery rhymes, the book takes an unusual poetic accounting as it unfolds through wild linguistic leaps and startling juxtaposition. This is an ambitious and highly rewarding book.”
—Jury comments, Archibald Lampman Poetry Award
“A powerhouse collection… Ridley’s style is what brings the ambitious collection its success. Her choice to play with space, as if scoring the poems herself, creates a rich duality between pauses and punctured fragments.” —Cape Cod Poetry Review
“The Counting House is exceptional work and reminds us again of just how talented Ridley is at employing artifice and literary conceit to force us into more honest examinations of the basis of language and poetry itself. It’s playful, but it isn’t slight, and may prove to be a significant influence on her contemporaries.” —Jamie Bradley, Arc Poetry Magazine
“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
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.