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Apologetic for Joy

Apologetic for Joy

118 pages
Published:   September 2, 2011
Paperback:   9780864926319    $17.95

Apologetic for Joy is a lush collection from a unique new voice whose palette of subject matter ranges from artistic anatomy to dislocation. Hiemstra-van der Horst's poems reveal a sensual awareness and an imaginative escape into intricately woven poetic worlds, rich in sensual detail and metaphor. Her gentler sketches of quotidian moments peel away to reveal an artist and poet whose careful observations of the world undertake the difficult translation to page and canvas.


Jessica Hiemstra is an award-winning artist, writer, and designer. Her writing has appeared in chapbooks, essay collections, journals, and in three full-length poetry collections that she also illustrated: The Holy Nothing, Self Portrait without a Bicycle, and Apologetic for Joy. In 2018, Hiemstra won Toronto’s My Entertainment World’s Outstanding Set and Costume Design award for her work on Shannon Bramer’s The Hungriest Woman in the World. In 2021, she received second place in Brush and Lyre’s Palette Poetry prize for her multimedia entry, “Cormorant”, an animation of cormorants in flight over Lake Ontario/ Niigaani-gichigami. Some of these drawings appear in Blood Root.


"Apologetic for Joy showcases a young poet who embraces the world with a sensual attentiveness and a steadfast lyrical clarity.... Whatever the future holds for this young poet, in Apologetic for Joy her arrangement of lines makes appealingly lucid and graceful sense." — Toronto Star

"Reading Apologetic for Joy was, for me, like peeling an orange on a hot day and greedily biting into its juicy flesh. Wanting more, I eagerly turned each page to delight in the next surprise. ... a pleasure to read because the poetry remains as artfully loose as the drawings. ... It is literary and a page-turner at the same time." — The Malahat Review

"Hiemstra-van der Horst pens painterly poems that close in poignant observation or tease us with whimsy and absurdity. ... Multitalented, Hiemstra-van der Horst has talent to burn." — Chronicle Herald

"Apologetic for Joy is a master class in painting the quotidian with words, rediscovering delight in daily life while consistently acknowledging the brevity of human existence... Hiemstra-van der Horst directs her words like beams of sunshine through a magnifying glass to illuminate experiences that can all too easily be dismissed as mundane. Her poems depict a world infused with an Augustinian sense of wonder, where even plant fertilizer can be miraculous... Hiemstra-van der Horst has wrought some masterful and uplifting poetry, with elegant and beautiful ekphrases, and no apologies should be made if it is found to be a truly joyous work to read." — The Bull Calf

"Poetry is everywhere and sometimes in books. This is one of these books. Simple words so close to real life, so accessible in their truth and so comforting in their unpredictable beauty. Truly poetry as we would like it to be. Always." — Herménégilde Chiasson

"'No one,' Jessica Hiemstra-van der Horst claims, 'has the reins on radiance,' but she is a poet stepping into the sun, wielding a magnifying glass. From quinces to O'Keefe to looking for God with a schizophrenic, she shines her light on the whimsical to the deeply serious alike. Though she may claim to be just arranging lines 'to make sense of debris,' her attention to thought and language is bold, often breathtaking. Her voice is a beam that sings and dazzles, and these are poems to set the heart ablaze." — Sachiko Murakami