Poetry

Aislinn Hunter writes of impossibilities that somehow function; of the tenuous interrelations that comprise our experience. Grounded by the questions “how to be good, how to be,” Hunter’s field of inquiry ranges across domestic, ecological, literary and philosophical subjects. Her poems are exclamations of recognition in the midst of caginess. This collection reaches for, and grasps, “what lists under every pose: the hope / that someone will love us”. (Back cover copy)

the-possible-past

Shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Award, the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and the ReLit Award for Poetry

‘Poetry should be a clear expression of mixed feelings, as W.H. Auden said. Aislinn Hunter’s latest collection follows that theory. In The Possible Past, Hunter touches on complex and often contradictory ideas and emotions often tackled by only the most philosophical writers. Filled with poignant detail and innovative metaphors, these poems act as condensed “eureka!” moments applicable to anyone thirsty for self-discovery.
More often than not, Hunter raises the question: What is this world? The subjects are never pedestrian, instead focusing on unusual clues to humanity’s mystery…’

– David Silverberg (founder of the Toronto reading series Suburban Spoken Word)

‘How limited we are by our particular place in chronology, and yet how liberated, too, since our minds can transport us to at least an imagined version of other times. In her new poetry collection, The Possible Past, Aislinn Hunter pushes her poems against both this limitation and this freedom. She continues the circular movements through history that she began with Into the Early Hours, where her poems clustered around leaving old Ireland and moving “through the other side.” Here, Hunter uses the past even more directly as the seedbed for her collection, quoting or footnoting sources from The Odyssey to the present century, and including remarkable objects like Galileo’s finger, a “rolled scroll of bone… [that] desires language.”…

Hunter usually spans her images over several lines, which allows The Possible Past to linger in the mind as a subtle network of images and emotions. There are enough solid, and sometimes difficult, details to keep the work grounded; there is enough hunger for infinity to keep the mind hunting for nourishment from a constantly elusive past. Under Hunter’s skillful hand, tough and fragile moments from many centuries hit our psyches as if each event were freshly imprinting itself in that now.’

–  The Globe and Mail

into-the-early-hours           

Winner of the Gerald Lampert Award for Poetry and shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize

‘These are substantial poems of humour and wonder… characterized by a generosity of imagination as well as a breadth and depth of engagement with its human concerns. This is writing that has a stake in the world; that takes risks.’

         –– Arc, the National Poetry Magazine

‘Given the critical recognition awarded her first book of stories published earlier this year, it comes as no surprise that B.C. writer Aislinn Hunter is an accomplished storyteller. Crossing genres with her second book, Hunter also brings this same storytelling talent to her first collection of poetry, Into the Early Hours. Hunter’s strong storytelling voice blurs the lines between poetry and prose throughout the collection. Written with long prosaic lines, a strong linear movement, and nicely rendered characters, many of these poems can only be distinguished as poems because of their adherence to formal poetic structure: “She is ten or eleven, standing in the playground/in a blue fluted summer dress, hands in pockets/watching the other girls as they grab the rusted railing,/dig their sneakers into the sand,/push the merry-go-round until it’s really spinning.”
 The first two sections of the book present these tightly woven narratives, taking subjects from both Hunter’s family history and the cultural inheritance of the 20th century. In the third section, aptly titled “What We Saw, Having Come Through the Other Side,” Hunter explores her life on the West Coast of B.C.
It’s here that her poems begin to burn with poetic, rather than narrative, energy. Her imagistic representation of minor details in these poems are the strongest moments in the collection. A poem about a garden, a late night bike ride, or a walk along the water comes alive with the strength of her metaphors:


The weather its own sort of miracle
a string of nights so clear and cold, the Bay
could have been mistaken for sky, and was,
how standing on the beach at Stanley Park
I almost stepped into it, a liquid field of quartz stars.

In these moments, Hunter lets herself be a poet first, and storyteller second.’

        –– The Quill and Quire

‘Into the Early Hours clearly documents Aislinn Hunter as a gifted master poet whose verse is unique, engaging, and memorable.’

        –– Midwest Book Revew