In Reviews

"The effect really is curious, as Pirie composes new poems out of the bones of my own fragments, creating both new poems and a strange kind of collaboration between our words and effects."


"Pearl Pirie is concerned with vectors, disruption, iridescence, and combustion, and using them to unsettle seemingly settled things. Ignore for a moment that the title suggests a disappointment in not spontaneously combusting. Motion is a position, as in the poem “We Casually Toss Around our Rucksacks” where “all we have is looser than clouds. we are air, this breath from / our octopus beaks.” As a reader you look again, unsure what you saw. That “we” really is air, really is this breath from our own beaks. The fantastical pushes boundaries of that which “we” encompass." and What’s important isn’t that the words point toward something but that they are propulsive. A series of guidelines from a poetic HR department address questions you didn’t know you needed to ask in “Poet’s Guide to Buildings on Fire.” Here, Pirie plays dangerously between the literal and metaphorical. Everyday speech isn’t any less metaphor and exaggeration than poetry. Insert a flame emoji. Turning everything into metaphor can be a too-serious business. Laughing at the conventions of poetry (and poets) is an essential method for keeping poetry (and poets) from becoming unbearable. Pirie recommends carrying a small axe. So, “if the building has a small fire, put it out.” Easy enough! But “if the building is on fire, be aware buildings have been on fire before. are there horses running into it? can they be allegorical unicorns?” Meanwhile, someone might be on fire. What’s seriously addressed in funny lines are questions of priority. One can’t inhabit metaphor to the point that it inhibits interaction with the world. Well, one can, but there’s a cost and that cost is worth imagining.


"I have been known to say that I am not a big fan of ‘sex poetry’. What I really mean is that I am not generally a fan of ‘erotic poetry’, though there have been exceptions. This is the former without being the latter. The sex is there, but it certainly does not mean to titillate, rather… illuminate? Causing you to ruminate? Or maybe just enjoy. This is a very good chapbook by a very good poet. Thanks to rob mclennan for passing this beauty my way. Thanks to Pearl for writing it."


"Pearl Pirie's thirsts, like the yin-yang, denies the reader's thirst, and by denying it makes the reader aware of their thirst - so much the better to indulge it." [4/5 stars]


"Each poem in this cleverly crafted collection seems to be the product of impishly wielded Scrabble tiles, intimately deployed with often revelatory results. Pirie's collection is a charming puzzle, a delight and a balm to heart and soul. [5/5]
With  The Pet Radish, Shrunken , Pearl Pirie "reaches for a ripe tomato and sinks thru into a poem"; she "conjugates herself into hums that become harmony-hands as they rub, spin". She accomplishes all of this with her playful style and sense of humour." [4/5 stars]



"Ottawa poet Pearl Pirie has taken one such idea and put in the work, and her joy is palpable. A fun and instantly rewarding work of mock-non-fiction in the vein of Roberto Bolano’s Nazi Literature in the Americas, Pirie’s Reviews of Non-existent Titles is likely to cause discomfort in poets who may feel implicated in the “deification of an abstract female as an angel of death” or the “generally skilled use of rhythm and metaphor to express bitterness at book length.”

It’s hard to tell if Reviews is meant to satirize poets or if it it’s a pastiche of pugilistic reviewers. The richness and nuance with which Pirie renders (and skewers) her non-existent titles reflects her familiarity with the North American poetry landscape, and how could someone conjure a world so thoroughly without harbouring some affection for it? Ultimately I think the prevailing spirit of this chapbook is like that of a roast."



These descriptions are not wholly satisfying though, because they do not interrogate Pirie’s lusty, zesty use of language, nor do they explore word play in the individual poems.[...] Pirie shows through Oulipo that homosexuals, like hyacinths, are beautiful."


"I wasn’t very far into Pearl Pirie’s new poetry collection the pet radish, shrunken when I wished that I wasn’t reading it. Oh, don’t get excited; this isn’t some horrible negative review. Alone in my backyard in suburbia with the book in hand, I wished for a brief moment to be in a darkened public venue somewhere in urban wherever, listening to Pirie read, or better yet, to have her teleport to my backyard and read the book to me, or leap it to me, spin it to me like sixteen plates on sticks, dance its punny pas de bourrée, mash its oulipo sassiness into a fine paste and wear it like a facial. Wishing makes it so, in this case: that all happened anyway despite the decided lack of technology to support teleportation, which tells you something about the linguistic clean and jerk that this book performs and about the power and appeal of Pirie’s whirling dervish wordplay. ” 


You experiment with form in quirky and meaningful ways. In “vertiginous frights,” for example, you make a clock with the word “no” and then cross out a word. In other places, you leave ___ for words to be filled out, and, in what is one of the most exciting poems for me, your use of parenthesis in “alternative response (f)or irritants” is so punchy, bright and funny that a second and third reading only increases the pleasure. You also use French and Spanish words, and don’t seem to be limited by language; on the contrary, it’s as if words open new horizons of expression when penned by you.


"the pet radish, shrunken explores and dissects sound, form, and linguistic play, frustrating what Pirie calls embedded sense – the deeper meanings we ascribe to words, and by extension, the world. In “the body, its calendar” she writes, “wouldn’t we all fly up if not clasped? / you & I talk of saturn. I say weight. / you reply, mass, mass, but all I hear / is the trinity. dust, our size, not our origin.” Worlds collide in this single stanza: creationism is pitted against not only evolution, but existentialism.[...] Many of these poems aren’t pretty in a lyrical sense, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because they please the mind in another way. "

"She'll slip a hard edge into the most carefree poems to knock you out while other lines evoke giggles[...] a radiant union of contemporary situations and classic themes."

"Pirie's poetry reminds me of early Atwood. Witty and biting at the same time. I haven't read poetry that I have enjoyed like that for a long time."

"She’s the opposite of boring!” 

"Precise riots of vowels and consonants rattle these poems. Pearl Pirie's lines burn with sonic-rich images. Her verbal verve is rooted in an ecstatic attentiveness to language, both found and formal. Moving from sonnets to dialogue poems to tercets, these poems shelter surreal and uncanny imagery. Charged with innovative and lyrical energies, the pet radish, shrunken is a gorgeous rebellion."
Pearl Pirie's words live on in the mind long after you've read them. She is an exceptional writer, one who creates a fierce impact on the reader, an impact that lets them know they are in the presence of a wild and beautiful imagination. Her poems are complex and playful, demanding and worthwhile, endowed with wisdom and wonder equally."


"[S]he manages to articulate a series of confusions and sparks, none of which could have been articulated in any other way. These are poems learning how to explore simply by exploring. She has become a poet worth watching, which is always a rare and enviable position."



"In Pearl Pirie's poems, language ferments, foments a "vinegar vigour." Flipping the labels off contemporary mores, cooking with sound, she offers quick food for thought. Keep up with her if you can." 

"I read the book through three times[...] I very much enjoyed it. I laughed out loud on multiple occasions which is no small feat for a book of poetry! It was delightful. The poems collected in  the pet radish, shrunken  invite us equally into routine and catastrophic events. The delights of each new moment is tied with those memories that so casually insist on a place in a present.  With humour, play, and brass, Pirie revels in the daily raucous of domesticity, verbatim conversations, and the language that must somehow hold a whole existence."  

"These interesting and articulate poems seem to come from a very deep well.  […] Her dry humour just races around inside these poems […] Pirie's mature poems are Brautiganian whip-smart and as precise as pinched purpose. […] full of wisdom and a little piss and vinegar.  Someone confident enough to let loose with those assuring assessments, clinical appraisals and whimsical amusements." 


"the pet radish, shrunken (March), the third full collection of poetry from Pearl Pirie, deals in the poetics of sound, language, and play."


Pearl Pirie ’s been shed bore moves at the speed of sound, slipping up against silence.


"Pearl Pirie and Kateri Lanthier both use a flitting, ghazal-like strategy to deflect the full force of their affections for their respective “yous” in their witty, conversational rambles."
"This very small chapbook came in the mail yesterday along with several other subscription items from rob mclennan’s also small but many-windowed publishing emporium. Once past the cryptic title, this one is more than worth the price of subscription.  [...]  Goldy cannot get out of the woods in this skillfully and amusingly critical parable -- because those woods were darker and more complicated even back in 1918 than we readers first noted. Dark and complicated woods, which in Pirie's interrogative narrative become fresh woods too."


"Pearl Pirie's words live on in the mind long after you've read them. She is an exceptional writer, one who creates a fierce impact on the reader, an impact that lets them know they are in the presence of a wild and beautiful imagination. Her poems are complex and playful, demanding and worthwhile, endowed with wisdom and wonder equally.."
"The poems were obviously crafted with care and attention to language, but manipulation of spelling and syntax purely for its own sake did not prove rewarding for me, similar to Nichol's experimentation in the same way."
"Part of the appeal of following Pirie’s work over the past few years has always been in not entirely knowing where her work might go next, shifting between narrative forms into more traditional engagements with haiku as well as more experimental forms of language and visual poetry, playing constantly with different shapes and possible sounds. [...] [T]hrough her curiosity, her work manages to accomplish a series of unexpected moments and startling, even jarring, images."
"My epiphany that Vertigoheel for the Dilly is a personal essay, touching on interests and frustrations that percolate through her social media outlets—barely skims the surface of this little chapbook’s big ambitions. "
"Stylistically been shed bore offers a plethora of choices and the unendingly exuberant imagination of Pirie who comfortably stakes out her space as she explores a wide range of poetic forms [...] What I have been clumsily trying to express is my admiration for those poems I loved in this collection, and there were many.  But equally, my awe at Pearl Pirie's comfortable range, this book is so much thicker than it appears. "


"It’s only fitting that one of the city’s literary forebears was a poet, as Ottawa has been called “the poetry capital of Canada. For a city of its size it boasts an impressive number and variety of poets, readings and publications [...] An incomplete list of some other writers with Ottawa connections[...] Henry Biessel, Dorothy Speak, Monty Reid, Blaine Marchand, First Nations writer and publisher Katerie Akiwenzie-Damm, Christopher Levenson, Daniel Poliquin, Moira Farr, Amanda Earl, slam poet Oni the Haitian Sensation, jwcurry (called “the best concrete and visual poet in Canada”), Pearl Pirie, Christine McNair, Max Middle, *John Barton, Terry Fallis[...]"