The Porcupinity of the Stars

ISBN-10: 1552452352
ISBN-13: 9781552452356
96 pp, Paperback
Oct 15 2010
$16.95 CAD
Note: This title is now also available as a digital eBook.

Winner of the Hamilton Literary Award for Poetry!

My Grandfather

had no time for

he said
I’m too old

at my age
I just want to know

what happens

In this much-anticipated new collection, poet and musician Gary Barwin both continues and extends the alchemical collision of language, imaginative flight and quiet beauty that have made him unique among contemporary poets. As the Utne Reader has noted, what makes this work so compelling is ‘Barwin’s balance of melancholy with wide-eyed wonder.’ The Porcupinity of the Stars sees the always bemused and wistful poet reaching into new and deeper territory, addressing the joys and vagaries of perception in poems touching on family, loss, wonder and the shifting, often perplexing nature of consciousness. His Heisenbergian sensibility honed to a fine edge, the poems in this bright, bold and acutely visual book add a surreptitious intensity and wry maturity to Barwin’s trademark gifts for subtle humour, solemn delight, compassion and invention.

‘Among contemporary poets, Barwin stands out as exceptional for his ability to plunder the synesthetic splendor of words. His poems seem to lift from the printed page and nosedive into other sensory dimensions. They are at once so spacious, intensely visual, and alert to sound that it’s possible to become convinced words are endowed with flavors and smells—exotic, fragrant candies that stain the tongue with color.’ – ForeWord

‘Few books of poetry in recent decades have so inventively and insightfully explored how intimately our existence is rooted in a foundation of both death and wonder.’ – Gabriel Gudding, author of Rhode Island Notebook

‘Between the freaky, funny filmmaker Guy Maddin and author Gary Barwin, Canada is producing some of the most innovative creative works of our time.’ – Utne Reader

‘Gary Barwin likes to drive language through the guard rails and into oncoming traffic.’
Hamilton Spectator

[Cover illustration by Charmaine Olivia. Visit her site at]

View an Excerpt