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True Concessions

True Concessions

These poems chart moments where the beauty of life is glimpsed like a carnival through a crack in a fence. The verse is full of living toys, dressing up, and daylight ghosts. His world is peopled with gods and heroes and inventories the luminous, devastating details of everyday lives. Poile discerns that love is an odd mix of a fairy princess and the monster under the bed. Tracing a firm entry into middle age, Poile favours the expression of a shared experience of the world as opposed to the youthful desire to be unique. He vaults between two worlds: an outer, urban landscape where people raise families, make a living, and get on in the world and an inner terrain of thought and emotion. Metre and rhyme both underscore and undercut Poile's subject matter, and he captivates with texture and sound.

Although his work is informed by tradition, his language is grounded in the quotidian, setting up a fruitful dialog between past and present. There are no rules when it comes to making a poem that sings and shimmers.


Craig Poile grew up in New Brunswick. He earned degrees in journalism and English literature at Carleton University in Ottawa, where he now lives. He works as a technical writer, has been active as a playwright and theatre producer, and co-owns Collected Works Bookstore. His first book of poetry, First Crack, was shortlisted for the 1999 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. He and his partner Christopher have two children, Lily and Samantha.

Winner: Ottawa Book Award, English Fiction
Winner: Archibald Lampman Poetry Award
"True Concessions is a book full of poems that float as lightly as a balloon tied to a toddler's wrist, or, when they want to, stick like epoxy. Its language is deft and precise, its imagery keenly observed, and its themes poignant and humane. Like wings that lighten the feet, it turns the everyday dance into something unforgettable. Which is what this book is." — Jury statement, 2010 Ottawa Book Awards

"The poems in Craig Poile's True Concessions are graceful, a perfectly smooth parallel-parking job, dexterous in the tight corners of both suburban and urban landscapes. Often he is at his best with things: suits laid out on the bed like 'two black shovelfuls,' balloons, blankets, phones. Poile thrives when attuned to small displacements, as in one of his poems, the sonnet 'Place Royale,' where the poses of chairs 'revive what life was about / last night.' We glean our place, Poile is saying, from cues hovering on a kind of sensory surface tension, which may or may not last. His prosody is strong, his voice assured. A fine collection." — Arc Poetry Magazine

"A quiet gem of a book, True Concessions is a reflective journey through the days and the demands of life in the middle years. ... With their air of reluctant maturity, their thoughtfulness, their acceptance (and occasional resignation), they form up as a parade of concessions marching to the rhythms of life and the necessary realities of disappointment." — Ottawa Citizen

"Here is a poet that looks at things closely, and records them accurately. He does not easily yield to abstraction ... His skill with phrasing can play the gently echoing against the percussive, as in 'Voices that ache and affirm, like a phantom limb / News that comes like a bang in the ear. ...' This solid collection convinced me that Craig Poile has both craft and emotional range. I'll be watching for his next book." — Globe and Mail Books Online

"Each of these poems urges the spirit to walk with the poetic voice and travel the inroads of pattern and imagery to where it will awaken a stark reality — how well each is conceived — not in a far-reaching language, but in the common voice of everyday. Tempted, for example, has 'Noon, and the towers empty in one great flush ...' True Concessions is Poile's second book of verse and a strong omen of much good to follow." — Daily Gleaner

76 pages
Pub date: May 15, 2009