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The Last to the Party

The Last to the Party

108 pages
Published:   April 2, 2024
Poetry  /  icehouse poetry
Paperback:   9781773103334    $19.95

In this highly anticipated and deeply moving debut, Chuqiao Yang explores family, culture, diaspora, and the self’s tectonic shifts over time. Yang’s poems journey restlessly through recollections of a Saskatchewan childhood, trips to visit family in Taiyuan, and a sojourn across the American South in search of the moments and places where one became a stranger to oneself. “You are a mouse in the backcountry of your memories,” writes Yang, “You are a fox in winter, devouring well-meaning friends.” Irreverent, fierce, and ceaselessly surprising, The Last to the Party marks the arrival of a unique voice and an unsparing poetic vision.


Chuqiao Yang’s poems have appeared in The Unpublished City, Ricepaper, Arc Poetry Magazine, Canthius, Prism, Grain, CV2, Room, and on CBC Radio. She was a finalist for the Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers and her chapbook, Reunions in the Year of the Sheep, won the bpNichol Chapbook Award. The Last to the Party is her first full-length collection. Yang lives in Ottawa.


“Chuqiao Yang’s poems burst with desire, memory, and intelligence as she navigates subjects such as family, cultures, identity, and coming of age. Nothing is too much for Yang as she “balk[s] at the thought of a life without the full / brute strength of desire.” Refracted in these pages is a poetic self that is “untethered, boundless.” A luminous debut.” — Gillian Sze, author of Quiet Night Think

“A book made of imagistic brilliance and searing honesty. As we shift from Saskatoon to Shanxi, the eyes in these poems see everything.” — Tim Lilburn, author of Harmonia Mundi

“In poems that are poignant, often funny, and always questioning, Chuqiao Yang invokes an intricate series of bridges that connects daughter, parents, extended family, and ancestors. As Yang writes, “I’ve returned from the future, and brought back / who I intend to be.” This remarkable, compelling debut is a “feast of friendship” and family, departures and reunions.” — Sylvia Legris, author of The Principle of Rapid Peering

“There is a glorious, animating rage to many of these poems, a refined and sharpened blade that dazzles as it strikes — unsparing and incisive in both critique and self-recrimination, delivering curses so brilliant and biting you’ll wish to feed them to your worst enemies. Equally inspired are the poems that thrum with love, tangling with the enormity of familial love and its layers of history, guilt, and grief. Chuqiao Yang is a poet in control of the full power of her voice.” — Kim Fu, author of How Festive the Ambulance

“In one of the finest debuts I’ve read in some time, Yang writes of a prairie childhood, various travel, family and family roots and youthful adventures, rebellions and reconciliations, her lyrics offering a richness that is confident and subtle.” — rob mclennan’s blog

The Last to the Party is a work of extraordinary beauty, pain, and honesty. Yang achieves flight in this poetry collection. It soars.” — Canthius

The Last to the Party is a remarkable debut, both captivating and thought-provoking. Yang has a remarkable ability to capture the complexities of the human experience with great insight. With profound themes, and beauty in language, this collection will resonate with many readers” — Hamilton Review of Books