Museum of Kindness

(published by Brick Books, November 1, 2017)

from the Brick Books site:
A meditative and piercing collection that explores traumas both ordinary and out of the ordinary.

Museum of Kindness, Montreal poet Susan Elmslie’s searching second collection of poetry, is a book that bravely examines “genres” familiar and hard to fathom: the school shooting, PTSD, raising a child who has a disability. In poems grounded in the domestic and in workaday life, poems burnished by silence and the weight of the unspoken, poems by turns ironic and sincere, Elmslie asks “What, exactly, is / unthinkable?”

Candid, urgent, celebratory, and wise, this is a book for all of us; in it, we encounter a sober and unflinching gaze that meets us where we really live and does not look away.

“Susan Elmslie has written a remarkable collection. Many of these poems deal with some of the more demanding elements in the lives of women, of mothers. These are poems that will speak to many people with power and dignity and a healing touch.” —Marge Piercy

“… These poems are so acute, so clear-eyed in their brutal wisdom, that I had to put the book down to rest between poems, like a woman in labor, entirely wrung out…. a masterpiece of loss transformed by love into some of the most greathearted, lyrically daring poems I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. ” —Rachel Rose

5.5 x 8.75, 114 pages
Issued in print and electronic formats: ISBN 978-1-77131-467-1 (softcover); ISBN 978-1-77131-469-5 (PDF); ISBN 987-77131-468-8 (EPUB)
$20.00 CDN
November 1 2017

brick books



I, Nadja, and Other Poems

from the Brick Books site:
Poems that reach towards the lost or the might have been.

In her debut collection, Susan Elmslie delves into the life and mental illness of the real person behind André Breton’s surrealist romance, Nadja, recovering the story of a flesh and blood woman who became a symbol for the unknowability of the feminine and the irrational side of the human psyche. Ultimately, I, Nadja is about many women as Elmslie’s lyrically astute, confident lines move into the daily world of motherhood, adolescent memories and heroines like Marie Curie and George Sand. With her great fury of a voice, Elmslie’s poems are forthright and daring, fearlessly rhapsodic, as “they sing / your shape through doorways,… sing / the whole house awake.”

Praise for I, Nadja, and Other Poems:

“What range and abundance! A catalogue of trench coats, a daughter’s first hunger, the stories of George Sand, Marie Curie, and, of course, Breton’s love, the unforgettable, unknowable Nadja. Each of these poems is fully felt, finely formed, astonishingly different from the next. Susan Elmslie compels you to linger with admiration – but also to keep turning the pages, breathless for the next discovery.”
– Stephanie Bolster

“If for no other reason, buy this book for the “I, Nadja” poems. They are brilliant. But there is another reason-the book itself-all of it.”
– P.K. Page

An Excerpt from the poem “Four Postcards”:

I can get perfect distance between us – maybe
language is what washes the sheets eventually,
snapping on the line, telling us how neat things must be.
Like irony: a man spent eighteen years building a plane, only
to have it crash on its maiden flight, killing him completely.
Some throw themselves into the role of the timeless lover,
believing only in their own ability to endure, endure,
and prepare for that chance meeting at an airport bar.
You look at me and I know I have blown my cover.
When I talk of taking a trip I mean forever.

5.5 x 8.75, 160 pages
1-894078-53-5 978-1-894078-53-5
$18.00 CDN/ $13.00 US
August 2006


When Your Body Takes to Trembling 

Cranberry Tree Press, 1996

5.5 x 8.25, 46 pages
out of print


Susan has poems in the following anthologies:


The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry, 2017.  Eds. Molly Peacock and Anita Lahey.  (Tightrope Books, 2017).

Veils, Halos & Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women.  Eds. Charles Adès Fishman and Smita Sahay.  (Kasva Press, 2016).

Best of Canadian Poetry in English, 2015.  Ed. Jacob McArthur Mooney.  (Tightrope Books, 2015).

Desperately Seeking Susans.  Ed. Sarah Tsiang.  (Oolichan, 2012).

The Bright Well: Contemporary Canadian Poems about Facing Cancer.  Edited by Fiona Tinwei Lam, the book features poems for cancer patients, survivors, their families & friends.  (Leaf Press, 2011).

Best of Canadian Poetry in English, 2008.  Ed. Stephanie Bolster.  (Tightrope Books, 2008).

The Shape of Content: Creative Writing in Mathematics and Science.  Eds Chandler Davis,  Marjorie Wikler Senechal, and Jan Zwicky.  (AKPeters, 2008).

In Fine Form: The Canadian Book of Form Poetry.  Eds. Kate Braid and Sandy Shreve.  (Polestar, 2005).

Collected Sex Anthology.  Eds. Barry McKinnon and rob mclennan.  (Chaudiere Books, 2007).

20 poems and a statement of poetics in Evergreen: Six New Poets.  (Black Moss, 2002).

You & Your Bright Ideas: New Montreal Writing.  Andy Brown and rob mclennan, eds.  (Véhicule, 2001)

Journal publications:

Seven poems from Museum of Kindness published in Numéro Cinq (2017).

Susan’s work was published in the “List Issue” of The New Quarterly, guest edited by Diane Schoemperlen, Spring, 2010.

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