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Creamsicle Stick Shivs by John Stiles | 28-Sep-15

Poetry Library staff are currently hard at work putting together the tables for this year's Open Day. Here is Library Assistant Kavita Joshi's staff pick from our 2014 Open Day.

Creamsicle Stick Shivs by John Stiles -- Toronto : Insomniac Press, 2006

 Are You Feeling Hysterical?
 Or is this just the way you read publically? 

John Stiles is a London- based poet, novelist and filmmaker from Nova Scotia. While living in Toronto for eight years, poverty-stricken, selling door-to-door and doing a string of meaningless telemarketing jobs, he invented an 'in rural dialect' poetry voice at local open mics. This formed his first collection, Scouts are Cancelled. His second collection, Creamsicle Stick Shivs sees the poet travel a little further from his rural Annapolis Valley home, although it still contains much of the poet's innovative linguistic style and playfulness. 

The collection is divided in three parts; the first part 'Halifax Snowstorm' stays closest to the poet's home and rural dialect. The second half, 'Creamsicle Stick Shivs' recalls his time in Toronto and the third part concludes the collection with Stiles' experiences in England. He moves from the zealous, rough and tumble relationships of his past, to love and monetary strains in matrimony set against an urban backdrop. After his loneliness in 'House for the Rural Poor', he tells us about budgeting with his wife to buy 'Rice from the Iceland' in London. And although 'About the money, things are tense' throughout the collection, the emphasis shifts seamlessly to abstractions: 
he digresses '...what stuff is that? / The stuff we do. I'd rather just write... but just the other day my wife was telling me how good-looking I am... You are sharming, she says.' Creamsicle Stick Shivs is a gritty and entertaining collection, sweeping far and wide to contain a multitude of experiences and observations, presented in the poet's striking and unique style.

Kavita Joshi
Library Assistant


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