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Myself A Paperclip

Myself A Paperclip

80 pages
Published:   October 5, 2021
Poetry  /  Queer Lit 
Paperback:   9781773102153   $19.95

Leaving a drawer open in here
is like leaving your fly undone
is like letting a scab hang off a healing wound.

In Myself A Paperclip, Finlay sketches the internal self and the external whir of the psychiatric ward, laying bare its daily rhythms. Memories, musings, echoes, and meditations on stigma coalesce: quarters dispensed into a payphone to listen to the stunned silence of a partner; Splenda packets and rice pudding hoarded in dresser drawers; counting back from ten as electrodes connect with the temple.

Deeply personal and reflective, Myself A Paperclip confronts abuse and experiences with debilitating mental illnesses, therapies, and hospitalizations, all shaped into the remarkable form of a serial long poem.
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Triny Finlay is a queer poet, writer, teacher, and mother whose collections include Splitting Off and Histories Haunt Us. Her writing has appeared in Breathing Fire 2: Canada’s New Poets, Arc Poetry Magazine, Contemporary Verse 2, The Fiddlehead, Grain, The London Reader, The Malahat Review, Plenitude, University of Toronto Quarterly, and Untethered. She teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton.


“‘Like a curious fawn,’ Triny Finlay writes in this stark, candid, and surprisingly funny collection about mental illness; ‘off a ledge backwards.’ Here is the self, undone and bent but unbreaking, the voice a lash and a roar, here are words well-wrought and wielded with such care. Myself A Paperclip is compelling in the earliest sense of the word, urging us irresistibly together. Would that we were all ‘so ready to be unfastened.’” — Katia Grubisic, author of What if red ran out

“Just as a paperclip is bent but holds every page together, its strength not sapped but tautened by the bending, Triny Finlay's fierce and gentle new poems join us to a struggle with the everyday, not just inside the psych ward but outside, baring its roots not only in care but in vulneration of bodies. Without flinching, Myself A Paperclip echoes Eliot's “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” as Finlay evokes an uncertain world, its components and banality, its Sanka and toast, a dwelling-place fraught and unfraught. Here is the litany of voices from which collectivity emerges and yet individuality is preserved.” — Erín Moure, author of The Elements

“In Myself A Paperclip, Triny Finlay renews the elemental possibilities of poetry — transformation, preservation, vision, and voice — in order to counter the stigmatization of mental illness, resist the idealization of treatment, and reveal the intense difficulties of recovery and survival. Myself A Paperclip is an essential, necessary read for its vital authenticity, courageous activism, and singular art.” — Daniel Scott Tysdal, author of Fauxccasional Poems

“Finlay writes of coming apart and reshaping, working through the shifts that medications prompt and allow, writing the light and the dark, and the uncertain journey toward a kind of balance.” — rob mclennan