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Fish Bones

9781897190494 | Poetry
Published by DC Books, 2009

In Fish Bones Gillian Sze takes a random walk through the art museum and finds the drama of life framed in a series precisely rendered and moving artefact poems. Working from Jeanette Winterson's idea of a "constant exchange of emotion" between the artist, the painting, and the writer, Sze's ekphrastic verse is unrelenting in its commitment to action, so that each poem sparked by a picture comes to follow its own impetus, the origin of which is always a deeply felt encounter, whether familial, erotic, or strange. Vacillating deftly between the suspended space-time of a museum exhibit and the charged urgency of the lives she imagines via the art she describes, the result is a collection at once stirring and arresting, tender and coolly true.

⌘ Finalist for the 2009 Quebec Writers' Federation McAuslan First Book Award; longlisted for the 2010 ReLit Award

Available online and hopefully at your local bookstore.

Some kind words:

Fish Bones is a kind of diary dedicated to love — to loving the hurt, unpredictable world, to loving others and one's own strange life. Gillian Sze's wide-ranging poems are both boldly honest and magical, modern and rooted in history. Their startling images and insights and their subtle music haunt the reader's mind for days.


Gillian Sze is a very good writer. Her voice is intimate and bold and sensual and wise. This is an exceptional debut.


Gillian Sze's debut poetry collection dazzled me ... it demonstrates an interesting range of attention and perception. The poetry is intelligent and playful in subject matter and observation. The poems are at once pared to the bones — pun intended — and wonderfully rich and sensual. They focus on the physical — particular concrete vivid things are chosen from among the infinitude of things that vie for the writer's attention but that she wisely leaves merely implied or altogether ignored.