With her signature eye for irony and sensuality, Elizabeth Bachinsky’s latest book of poetry, The Hottest Summer in Recorded History, balances a youthful playfulness with observational maturity. Bachinsky strings together seemingly non-sequitur images, capturing in these poems the commonality of raw intimacy, dark humour and a sense of immediacy. Her vision is unapologetically bold, finding the erotic in everyday moments and keenly capturing the complicated truths of life in a powerfully candid style.
"…Bachinsky’s The Hottest Summer in Recorded History (Nightwood) is her best work to date, and contains the exceptional and subversive poem “When I Have the Body of a Man,” which should be anthologized everywhere."—Jared Bland, The Globe and Mail
"…gripping, moving, inspiring, and hilarious. Her work delivers optimism, exuberance, pleasure—and her reading from The Hottest Summer in Recorded History was one of my favourite poetry performances of the year."—Brecken Hancock, Open Book Toronto
"…a Contiki tour of poetic hotspots… [The Hottest Summer in Recorded History] is an exercise in form equaling content: a poet’s Holy Grail. Bachinsky lets the style of each piece speak for the setting of the poem and in doing so instills memories and emotions in her readers that would have otherwise been impossible."—Richard Kelly Kemick, The Fiddlehead
Nominated for the Pat Lowther Award for PoetryRead "When I Have the Body of a Man" from The Hottest Summer in Recorded History here.
"Bachinsky has a way of inviting the reader into the poem, and talking as if off the cuff in a coffee shop, while remaining a strong artisan with careful attention to craft… 'There are so many reasons to dislike me / and this poem,' writes Bachinsky, but I can’t think of one."—Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press
"…there is a method to Bachinsky’s Gertrude Stein-like playing around, and it is to reclaim usually non-poetic language… Suddenly, what seemed banal becomes beautiful."—George Elliott Clarke, Halifax Chronicle Herald
Drawn from the handwritten journals and notes of Elizabeth Bachinsky, the lines and passages in I Don’t Feel So Good were selected by the roll of a die and appear in the order the die saw fit. In blending confessional and procedural techniques with disjunctive chronology and random chance, this book explores and exacerbates possibilities of the narrative mode both within the text and for the reader. Not so much “written” as “received.”
Written in response to the death of musician Chris Reimer of The Dodos, proceeds from the sale of this book were donated to the Chris Reimer Legacy Fund.
"Anticipating It-Girl Lena Dunham, who advocates all experience as good experience, Bachinsky has the courage to lay down confessions that are quirky, profound, mundane, and audacious by turns. Lots of writers would edit back the parts that were less stellar, but Bachinsky’s approach of choosing lines from her journals based on the roll of a die means she forces herself to include everything, and thus her writing seems authentic. The points where lines collide are actually pretty interesting…”—Jacqueline Turner, The Georgia Strait
“…combustive, filled with opinion and wonder and unknowing, not surety, but also not fey conjecture, not only one kind of observation, but many…This book is Bachinsky at her best…All the scaffolding out of the way. The goods. The straight goods. The gorgeous, unfiltered responses that we all love her for.”—Sina Queyras, Lemon Hound
Written in the near absence of creative works by Ukrainian Canadians of her generation, God of Missed Connections is a breakthrough collection by one of Canada’s leading poets. This book is profound, devastating, and draws on Ukraine's brave and bloody history as a means to explore the author’s place in the contemporary world.
“This book explores a century of cultural assimilation in the West, an experience that is not unique to a Ukrainian-Canadian sensibility. In this book, I wanted to capture the sense of what it feels like to not know where you’re from, to be looking for connections, and to come up with ghosts. God of Missed Connections is just the way I’ve gone about sifting through my own cultural detritus. What makes it through time, what doesn’t? That’s what interests me.”—Elizabeth Bachinsky
Nominated for The Pat Lowther Award for Poetry, The George Ryga Award for Social Justice in Literature, and the Kobzar Award. Adapted for stage by The Electric Company as a segment of The Initiation Trilogy. The production was nominated for two Jessie Awards.Read "Goddess of Incongruity" from God of Missed Connections here.
"Intoxicating…"—Colin Thomas, The Georgia Straight
"Bachinsky has won deserved admiration for her work, full of guts and verve, spunk and nerve. She utilizes a straight-shooting, straight-talking vocabulary and combines it with the world-weary wisdom of a Ukrainian, a people who have experienced grievous injustice in all ways… Bachinsky’s third poetry collection [has that] rough beauty, sinuous toughness, of make-do carpentry that works."—George Elliott Clarke, Halifax Chronicle-Herald
"…a shining example of how poetry can be more revelatory than prose."—BC Bookworld
"Form-wise, Bachinsky is still at play in God of Missed Connections, incorporating everything from lyrical incantations and dramatic monologues to terse journal entries and passages quoted from archival sources. But there’s nothing playful about her subject matter. Bachinsky lays bare many sorrows in what she calls 'the midden' of her heritage, including the catastrophic nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986… It leaves a distinct impression."—Barbara Carey, The Toronto Star
"The standout piece…inspired by Bachinsky’s [God of Missed Connections]…begins with a toast to Ukraine…and continues through poems pithy and profound… We stumble out of this eerie secret location and into the night, feeling a bit stunned. Which is good."—Marsha Lederman, The Globe and Mail (on The Initiation Trilogy)
Set in Anyvalley, North America, Home of Sudden Service centres around the experiences of young people growing up in the suburbs. The contrast of elegant poetic forms with the colloquial language of suburban teens makes for a compelling and engaging achievement.
Bachinsky creates a gothic landscape that will be familiar to anyone who’s visited the suburbs. Here, young Brownies dance, learn to sew and get badges in a series of eerie rituals, and small-town girls settle down early. Murder, lust, teen pregnancy and a young man’s disappearance are all discussed with a matter-of-fact, dispassionate voice.
But this world is not without humour and hope. Home of Sudden Service concludes with “Drive,” a series of fifteen sonnets about the poet’s trip across Canada with her sister—and out of the setting of their youth.
"Imagining T.S. Eliot returned, in a Canadian woman’s body, as a punk rocker, takes you only partway to grasping Bachinsky… Her project, in Home of Sudden Service, is to explore the voices of the disenfranchised… Elizabeth Bachinsky is one of those rare poets capable of negotiating poetic forms with rigour and testing their limits, while never losing sight of the strange, dark music of what it means to be human."—Jeanette Lynes, The Globe and Mail
Nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry.
"A classic…"—Nancy Pagh, Western Washington University
"It’s rare to encounter a book of poetry that so nimbly balances accessibility and craft as this second collection by Elizabeth Bachinsky… Bachinsky portrays the struggles of the young with a skillful mix of ironic detachment and saucer-eyed immediacy…"—Stewart Cole, Quill and Quire
"[Home of Sudden Service] packs a wallop of teenage angst, boredom and risky sexiness…an unusual and highly accomplished use of form by a young poet on the subject of loose girls and the freeway culture of malls, necking, cruelty and tragedy."—Hannah Main-Van der Kamp, BC Bookworld
"Bachinsky makes the combination of 'low' style or material with “high” forms seem not just easy and natural but aesthetically and poetically meaningful."—Malcolm Woodland, University of Toronto Quarterly
"A major influence…"John K. Samson, The Weakerthans
CURIO: Grotesques & Satires from the Electronic Age is Elizabeth Bachinsky’s elusive first book of poetry. Published just prior to Home of Sudden Service, a collection that went so far in another direction as to be nominated for a Governor General’s Award, CURIO offers a very different view of what Bachinsky is capable of as a poet, and invites her readers to consider a much wider vision of her work as a whole. No one can truly hope to understand her work without reading this volume.
Witness Antonin Artaud climb a beanstalk and eat his lover’s foot as his most torrid affair is revealed in letters; fear the Spy Cam’s omniscient eye; test your paranoiac tendencies as an alien abductee; watch as “The Waste Land” and “The River Merchant’s Wife” hit the blender; rejoice in poems without people, poems without authors and poems with no audience. CURIO is quirky and sly—an ironic mixture simultaneously engaged with formal innovation and a retro avant-garde that heralded the arrival of a brave new poet.
"…a versatile, skilled poet unafraid to shake things up…her work can straddle both sides: formal and experimental, personal and mathematical, with a keen ear for the erotically ridiculous."—Zoe Whittall, The Globe and Mail
"Bachinsky writes for us, the inheritors of a debased estate in which the last elegiac strains are heard chiefly as canned schmaltz piped into the corridors… The entire field of signification becomes, if you will, a perpetually excited surface of semiotic erectile tissue, productive of pornographic delirium."—K. Silem Mohammad, Lemon Hound
"The range of diction in these poems is wild, the diversity of influence deliciously idiosyncratic. How often have we seen John Milton and Lisa Robertson acknowledged between the same covers? Bachinsky’s willingness to range fearlessly through history sets her writing apart—or, at least places it in the company of equally daring poets like Robertson, Maine’s Jennifer Moxley, and Eliot himself."—Jeanette Lynes, Fieldstone Review