Finalist for the 2017 Griffin Poetry Prize for Excellence
Finalist for the 2017 Archibald Lampman Award
49th Shelf Most Anticipated Fall 2016 Poetry Preview Selection
Grief is personal and unpredictable; no two people experience it the same way, and yet, each person that comes out the other side is transformed by their experience of loss and redemption.
In a sequence of five feverish elegies, Sandra Ridley’s Silvija combines narrative lyric and experimental verse styles to manifest dark themes related to love and loss: the traumas of psychological suffering (isolation and confinement), physical abuse (by parent and partner), terminal illness (brain tumour and heart attack), revelation, resolution, and healing. Pulsing with the award-winning writer’s signature blend of fervour and sangfroid, the serial poems in Silvija accrue into a book-length testament to a grief both personal and human, leaving readers with the redemptive grace that comes from poetry’s ability to wrestle chaos into meaning.
Griffin Poetry Prize, Judges' Citation
“The poems in Sandra Ridley’s book are potent and beguiling. Words are given the space they need to root and branch. This pace of them engages with the unarticulated, the hidden, the unbearable as readers encounter five elegies that allude to and invoke trauma, shame, and a profound sense of loss. Given the themes at work in this collection, silence is an essential part of the reading. Ridley conducts and curates that space as liminal. Here’s where we understand the scope of the work and concede to bearing witness. Here’s where we understand that we will be haunted. And from that silence, the words that emerge have been given the time they need to properly cure and to season in the poem’s atmosphere. They reach, as words do, singular and fluent. Ridley’s language is persuasive and ripe. ‘[N]arrow your eyes to the now,’ the poem requests. Here is ‘a shame unleashed by plain talk’. Beneath these elegies, there is a current, a reprise praising the healer. This current is another root system, an ongoing poem, essential to the collection.”
Griffin Poetry Prize Reading •
“Silvija’s recent Griffin nomination is a welcome confirmation of Ridley’s place in the first rank of Canadian poetry.” —JM Francheteau for Arc Poetry Magazine
“Sandra Ridley’s fourth collection of poetry, Silvija, adds to her already impressive body of writing. The book, which is organized into nine sections, situates Ridley as one of the preeminent Canadian poets of her generation. Her writing is comparable to that of her Canadian foremothers: Erin Mouré and Nicole Brossard.” —Robert Anderson, for The Puritan
“Reading Sandra Ridley’s Silvija is to be tossed into the beautiful, impossible web of language, so unafraid of darkness, so willing to bear witness, so brave in wrestling meaning from silence. Poems of a non-linear unfolding attempt to hold love and suffering.” —Mary MacDonald for Pique Magazine
“Beautifully designed, Silvija is a structural whole, a beautiful web of language, doing elegy as a constrained & compelling dance of words.” —Douglas Barbour for Electric Ruckus