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Caribou Run
Caribou Run

Caribou Run

At one moment, a pure abstraction; at the next, an incontrovertible presence of hooves, antlers, and fur. The beating heart of this assured debut by Richard Kelly Kemick is the Porcupine caribou herd of the western Arctic.

In Caribou Run, Richard Kelly Kemick orchestrates a suite of poems both encyclopedic and lyrical, in which the caribou is both metaphor and phenomenon — text and exegesis. He explores what we share with this creature of blood and bone and what is hidden, alien, and ineffable.

Following the caribou through their annual cycle of migration, Kemick experiments with formal and thematic variations that run from lyric studies of the creature and its environment, to found poems that play with the peculiar poetry of scientific discourse, to highly personal poems that find resonance in the caribou as a metaphor and a guiding spirit. Running the gamut from long-lined free verse and ghazal form to tightly controlled tankas and interwoven rhyme schemes, Caribou Run serves notice that a formidable new talent has been let loose on the terrain of Canadian poetry.


Richard Kelly Kemick's poetry, prose, and criticism have been published in magazines and journals across Canada and the United States, including the Fiddlehead, the New Quarterly, and Tin House (Open Bar). He has won the poetry prizes of both Grain magazine and Echolocation. He lives in Calgary.

"You hear notes of McKay, Steffler, and Purdy's Baffin Island poems in this extraordinary first collection, which is marked throughout by a pulsing, joyful intelligence. Richard Kelly Kemick delivers us onto the great lone land with the precision and beauty of his lines. The book is breathtaking." — Tim Lilburn

"Caribou Run honours its title subject by its sheer depth of research and by its willingness to explore the relationship between man and nature from numerous angles. Wisecracking, earnest, and charmingly obsessive, Kemick introduces himself here as a poet who believes in something larger than his own self, and so is a poet to watch." — Nick Thran

96 pages
Pub date: March 29, 2016