reviews, by title

Adding Up to This

“Many of the poems are emotional and sensuous, yet quietly understated. With […] a wry sense of humour [and] subtle wordplay ADDING UP TO THIS is a collection to cherish. As a poetry reader and writer, I’m very pleased to add it to my library.”

Joanne Morcom, Haiku Canada Review (vol 18, number 1, Feb 2024)

We Scrawl Our Likenesses

“Pirie’s poems over the years has evolved into a poetics of declarations, observations and examination, first-person meanderings that accumulate into curious collage-movements, most of which ebb and flow across thought and language, and there is much in her work to compare to that of Phil Hall’s own work. And yet, using Hall’s language, these poems are unmistakably, delightfully, hers.”

rob mclennan, ongoing notes, Ottawa small press fair

A Couple Sumarians

“Had a chuckle at “the sky” in @pesbo/Pearl Pirie’s latest chapbook “A Couple Sumerians”. There’s some goodies in here, worth a read!”

Joan Rivard on Twitter

“[in] [t]his series of spare poems Ottawa poet Pearl Pirie plucks moments out of time and presents them in a thought-provoking light. Sensuous and playful, empathetic and deeply human, this gem of a chapbook will dazzle and enchant!”

James Hawes, Turret House

this small singing

“in this small singing, Pearl Pirie has applied the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure concept to haiku. Pirie’s chapbook has one haiku per page, is 14 pages long, and each page is cut in three sections corresponding to the haiku’s three lines. In this manner, Pirie has created a flipbook where the reader can turn each section of the page as they see fit to Choose-Their-Own-Haiku. Self-published and homemade (Pirie literally made the paper used for her chapbook’s cover in a process she describes on her blog,, this small singing yields a total of 2,744 haiku, all based on the choices of the reader. The interactive nature of this book takes the old haiku cliche that “the writer and reader co-compose the poem” to a whole new level.

Pearl Pirie has fulfilled a very creative concept in her writing of this small singing. I would recommend this chapbook for all readers of haiku, and for anyone who is inclined towards interactivity in their reading.”

Dave Read in Haiku Canada Review, p. 94-96, Feb 2023

rain’s small gestures

The poems in rain’s small gestures, published by Apt 9 Press, are clear, warm and fully realized objects of thought and emotion. They are marvels of craft, precisely because their technique is rendered transparent in the giving and grounding of what is to be seen, thought, held. Each poem unfolds with a wonderful economy of language, blooming as though of itself before the eyes and within the mind, clearing the space for its reception. Images of tangible reality: screen mesh, kitchen cabinets, junk mail, leaves, your friend’s voice, the given givens, basic as rain, invite the reader to return to what matters. The poem, a miracle of attention and care, collapses the despairing distances of political and social abstractions so that we might touch the difference water makes. Like the sleeping baby in the last poem, “cradle songs”, these small quiet poems will move everyone’s mountains.

Beverley Daurio and James McDonald, Judges of the Nelson Ball Prize

I hold this gem and ponder which emblematic bit to quote (tempting to lift them whole and place them here). A heron hunting. A snag of tamarack. “staying unchanged / is impossible.”

François Lachance, Jan 16, 2023

A must-read chapbook of incredible poetry! Thoughtfully made and designed!

Zane Koss on rain’s small gestures, 29 Nov, 2022

” She has long been attentive to the shape and the scope of such small works, but this is one of the few times she’s put together a collection deliberately leaning into the gesture of the small moment…The poems here are short and sharp, requiring a measure of attention. Reread these, please.”

rob mclennan in Ongoing notes, Dec 2021

“Pearl Pirie’s masterful Apt. 9 Press chapbook “Rain’s Small Gestures: Poems.”

Samuel Strathman, Twitter, Jan 26, 2022

rain’s small gestures pushes Pearl Pirie’s characteristically attentive poetry towards the minimalist. These poems explore the overlap between the poet’s tendencies to both the lyric and the haiku, moving between immediate perception and the observation of memory. “I too search unlikely places”, she writes.

Cameron Anstee on rain’s small gestures

Not Quite Dawn

“In choosing so few haiku and tanka from her twenty-year span of writing, Pirie has put together a worthy collection. The qualities that stand out most for me are originality and accessibility.[…]If readers often attempt to link poems to an author’s life, perhaps it would be more fruitful for a reader to link each poem to his or her own life. Pearl Pirie’s approach to writing makes such reading eminently possible. These poems are inviting.” 

Maxianne Berger, ShoHyōRan review, June 2021

Mudflaps for Short Dogs

“curious explorations through body image and self, asking questions I’ve not heard uttered before, whether in poems or anywhere else. She always seems to have the ability to take a question into entirely new realms, offering the space of the poem as a structured free-form arena of seemingly-random associations that sequence themselves into a series of entirely unique narratives.”

rob mclennan at ongoing notes, Aug 19, 2021


I thoroughly enjoyed reading footlights and happily read it in one sitting. Pirie’s use of language is precise and her subject matter is accessible, especially because of her sharp and sudden use of humour. The collection feels both cozy and expansive—it warrants a second reading.”

Rachel Fernandes at Arc, Oct 13, 2021

“Pearl Pirie’s footlights is a playful tribute to the momentary. Moving between philosophical and recognizable physical spaces, Pirie processes the quotidian with attention, insight, and humour. Warm-bodied and breathing, footlights is wonderfully peopled, executed through the subtleties of a syntax that reads with ease but shifts, tumbles, and dances. footlights feels like a call to look closely as it makes a case for any instance, however mundane—proving even our less spectacular, often unclocked, moments are worthy occasions for poetry.”

Lampman Award Jury, 2021: Mike Chaulk (Guelph), Rasiqra Revulva (Toronto), and Jane Munro (Victoria). 

“Pirie draws attention to how subtle creative choices can shift perspective.[…] It’s as if her poems were a metaphor for how to live outside the confines of expectations, no matter what happens in them as they go, Pirie keeps trekking toward their often curious, provocative conclusions – naturally making them very rereadable.”

Robyn Fadden on footlights at Montreal Review of Books, Spring 2021

“Pirie has eloquent line breaks and the subject matter really hits the heart. footlights talks about various issues including consent, concussions and nature in an accessible way, which makes the reader really engage with her poems. Some of her poems are inspired by fellow poets and it sparks a conversation that is heard long after you have left the room.”

—Christine Sung, on Instagram & FB.

This is a small poem that builds itself around texture, in how things feel to the touch, and in sight, and in the way even the tiniest mosquito hitches a ride on a current of air through a room. It is, I think, a poem that embodies all of what is best about Pearl Pirie’s work: she looks to—and documents—the tiny things in life with careful attention to detail. In so doing, she asks her reader to consider their place in the world, physically, spiritually, mentally, and philosophically. […] Here is a collection that speaks to resilience—in the face of the many struggles and challenges we all face as we make our way through our daily lives—and one that also speaks of grace, compassion, and gratitude.    

Kim Fahner at Periodicities

“marked by a new directness but also a quiet intense lyricism”, “a sense of celebration”

David O’Meara of A Pretty Sight, on footlights in interview

“There’s a lot of times in your poetry that you pick up on wire, on chain link, on screws, on hydro wire, the leash on a dog, things that connect. […]I’m so glad you put this collection together.”

Alan Neal on footlights on All in a Day, CBC

“There are no explicit allusions to gods in this poem, but there’s an almost mythical way of reckoning the world in many of Pirie’s poems, the reckoning of a person who peeks in at her own life through some trick of catching hold of something without, and then drawing it back in, as if breathing in the whole world through the poetic line. Pirie handles both humour and darkness with considerable pathos.[…] For my part, as someone who loves poetry, ranging from the highly abstract to more concrete work, I’m grateful for Pirie’s observational candour. She shows us how to move with sensitivity and intelligence through non-neurotypical spaces. She clears space for us, showing us how unanticipated shifts in consciousness can yield rich poetic pathways, if we can follow the footlights into the forest of living language.”

Following the Footlights into the Forest: Mark Grenon Reviews Pearl Pirie’s footlights in Hamilton Review of Books

” [her] new work is so different yet just as evocative.”

– Doris Fiszer, author of Locked in Different Alphabets, on footlights

“Pirie is more magpie than killdeer, picking up elements to incorporate into the structures of her simultaneously sketched and crafted moments of accident, interaction, meditation, observation and description. Her poems seem composed as ways in which one might not just work to articulate the world, but through speaking, better comprehend.” […] there is an articulation, a hint, of violence that exist within the work of both Hall and Pirie; external forces beyond their control that they have endured, attempting since to process, and potentially move beyond. There is something just under the surface of these poems that she both teases and tears at, working to move through and move past, as though her poems have finally become mature enough to allow her to wrestle with it in a slightly more overt form. 

rob mclennan of Glengarry on footlights

“The different sounds in this are so evocative – I also love the line breaks and the way the couplets are laid out, with such rich end words”

Sarah-Jane Crowson on twitter on Middle-aged from footlights

“Sensuous and deeply philosophical, the expansive poems in footlights put forth vital questions that push not only against but brilliantly into, the very essence of self as a combining form in these swiftly changing times.”

– Brenda Schmidt, former Sask Poet Laureate, author of Culverts Beneath the Narrow Road on footlights

“There’s a Zen story where a student asks a master to summarize his teaching in one word. The master says, “Attention.’ The student, not satisfied, asks for two words. “Attention. Attention,” the master replies. In footlights, Pearl Pirie gives careful attention to the everyday details and daily strange wonders yielding poems rich in observation and nuance asking; What is it to live in the world and to have a life? What is it to pay attention to one’s own attentiveness? Attend to these poems as they attend to you. They delight.”

– Gary Barwin, author of For It Is a Pleasure and a Surprise to Breathe, on footlights

“Her poems seek and search, and work to gather and absorb as much as possible. “what if the universe isn’t moral?” she asks, to open “homogenized script,” “what if most people are not, in fact, lost?” We three might all have emerged from different corners of rural Ontario, but there is an articulation, a hint, of violence that exist within the work of both Hall and Pirie; external forces beyond their control that they have endured, attempting since to process, and potentially move beyond. There is something just under the surface of these poems that she both teases and tears at, working to move through and move past, as though her poems have finally become mature enough to allow her to wrestle with it in a slightly more overt form.”

-rob mclennan at Dusie

Water Loves Its Bridges

“The haibun intersperses prose with haiku. Pirie uses the form to deliver crystalline imagery as a counterpoint to a reckoning, in epistolary form, with her father’s memory. In one recollection, her dad slams the door of his truck and accidentally kills a favourite barn kitten; the speaker still carries the weight of his remorse 22 years later. Immediately juxtaposed: “boulder breaks / from the rock cut / ice refreezing.” The letters’ artful sensitivity may tempt some readers to breeze over Pirie’s haiku and tanka. Don’t. Take your time—stop and savour the spaces that open up between past and present, sentence and line, grief and self-forgetting. There, Water Loves Its Bridges offers some of its richest, most moving rewards.”

– Bryce Warnes on Water Loves Its Bridges at The Pamphleteer

“In “Water Loves Its Bridges,” Pearl Pirie uses the epistolary haibun to explore her loss and the nature of her relationship with her father, not so much in retrospect as in the spirit of his presence, most effectively. The poems reminisce about scenes from the past at the farm where she grew up and during travel with her father. Such a detail as the daughter understanding her father’s partiality to “Scotch eggs” is balanced against her hurt acceptance of her father’s stereotypical view of gender that was a reflection of the times when he lived. Her father’s remorse at accidentally killing a kitten when he slams a truck door and his exhausted self coming in after long hours of fence repair to criticize his family watching TV from California work to create a real-life portrait of the man. Pirie’s format, using colloquial meditation that includes homely and often sensual detail, followed by haiku, works powerfully to lift commentary about the everyday to something almost transcendent. The matter-of-fact and bluff tone in the prose parts contrasts well with the slender elegance and moments of emotion marked by the haiku. Consider this haiku on her father’s funeral that comes after her blunt complaint that she is “done with funerals”: “carnation scent/her face clammy/clammed up.”

– gillian harding-russell on Water Loves Its Bridges

“Pirie’s careful, casual stories framed by haiku, intriguing and revealing”

Peter Christensen on Water Loves Its Bridges

” Pirie’s unsent letters to her father: I like her choices of memories, the eloquent summary of her father and uncle interacting in “White Noise.” Ah, we knew so many fathers like that. “

Leona Gom on Water Loves Its Bridges

rob plunder gift

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.”

rob mclennan  on rob plunder gift (Battleaxe, 2018)

An Ongoing Lack of Spontaneous Combustion

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.” —Aaron Boothby on An Ongoing Lack of Spontaneous Combustion at the Town Crier

Sex in Sevens

“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.” — Rusty Priske on Sex in Sevens

Today’s Woods

“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.”—Frank Davey on today’s woods

“Pirie weaves together scientific observations on the grizzly bear, barbed critiques of the current Canadian political atmosphere, and ruminations on child psychology laying them bear against a reimagining of Grimm’s classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Pirie’s today’s woods is a gorgeous example of experimental poetic collage narrative. The texture of her language, thick and dense, is a stunning contrast to the sharp and cutting criticism levelled at the too comfortable white literary landscapes of colonized Canada. Pirie pierces the reader with the knowledge that sometimes we come to poetry in need of something that we weren’t aware we were lacking. When we sit down with this chapbook, we are sitting down with our five year old selves; this poet gives us permission to grieve the flawed narrative fed to us by parents, teachers and larger cultural attitudes. That’s a tall order for a chapbook of four pages, but it’s done with such an agile voice that the reader is lulled into this jarring imaginary-real world.”

Lyndsay Kirkham on Today’s Woods at Broken Pencil

Reviews of Non-existant Titles

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.”

Bardia Sinaee on Reviews of Non-existant Titles at Medium.

Sourdough Collaboration

Prevost and Pirie are keen readers and listeners, capable of shaping one another’s gambits into sturdy morsels worth pulling apart. Though the exercises seem custom-built for Pirie’s elastic dissection of koan and colloquialism, Prevost proves totally up to the challenge, often distilling these ‘bastard ghazals’ to their imagistic potential. Like any thriving partnership, one person’s strengths must balance the other’s. At various points in-between the peaks of exploration and consolidation, the Ottawa-area poets achieve a single, hybridized voice. It could be said, albeit unfairly, that the procedures and approaches they discuss outshine the poems themselves – but that’s like saying limitless possibility outshines the closure of a finished piece! “—Ryan Pratt at Ottawa Poetry Newsletter on Sourdough Collaboration

the pet radish, shrunken

Inven­tive, adven­tur­ous, humor­ous, and a lyric aper­ture onto the strange beauty of the quo­tid­ian,  pet radish, shrunken  is a delight to read. Uni­fied in their unpre­dictabil­ity, these poems explore a range of forms and voices.   Pirie rubs words until they spark and fume, turn­ing the com­mon into an uncom­mon blaze. Every line is joy­ful in its eccen­tric­i­ties, and emi­nently re-read­able as it tum­bles through lan­guage.”—Lampman jury citatation, Arc

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] — Vicki Ziegler on the pet radish, shrunken on GoodReads 

“There is no question about how wildly funny Pirie’s work can be, and I confess that was my major reason for wanting to hear her read the work: so I could get the full benefit of the bust-a-gut laughs she builds into the book. But the book does that and more all on its own, due in large part to how thoroughly Pirie’s voice comes through in the book. The pet radish, shrunken is not only comic, however ebullient Pirie’s ludic play is; it is also mindful of its politics without being po-faced about them.”

—Tanis MacDonald of Mobile at The Rusty Toque on the pet radish, shrunken

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.—Sanita Fejzic on the pet radish shrunken at apt613

The lyrics populating Ottawa poet Pearl Pirie’s new collection, the pet radish, shrunken, buzz with oblique wisdom and surgically sharp wit.[…] the sonnets, tercets and dialogue poems of this new collection strike powerful and deliberate chords even while they frolic and surprise. ” —Wanda Praamsma In Conversation: Wanda Praamsma talks with Pearl Pirie about her new collection

[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]”

— mwpm on the pet radish, shrunken at GoodReads

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.”

 —Tanis MacDonald, The Rusty Toque, 2015, issue 9

After two books, Pearl Pirie already has something of a reputation for verbal pyrotechnics, & her eccentrically titled new collection will definitely further burnish it. […] Although many of these pieces seem to fly beyond the ordinary, the local & political world hovers nearby, & sometimes impinges in a cutting manner. There’s a pertinent impertinence to such poems as ‘but here are you from, really?’ with lines like ‘absence makes the heart grown nomads. we are cheerleaders / standing on the pyramid of temporary workers,’  ” 

—Douglas Barbour at Eclectic Ruckus

 “Quirky and fresh, playful yet serious, Pirie’s collection, THE PET RADISH, SHRUNKEN, demands and activates new pathways of reason. These line-by-line lyrical segments both tantalize and take the reader down the rabbit hole (pulling rabbits out of hats along the way) with their semantic surprises and jumpy music. Pirie sees the world askew and brings the reader along for the ride. An invigorating collection.”

—Catherine Graham at SPD books

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. “—Safa JinJe on the pet radish in Quill & Quire

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.”

—Kalina Lafromboise on radish in Maissonneuve, Spring 2015
(print or subscription/behind a paywall:

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.”—Anne Boys-Hope on the pet radish, shrunken

She’s the opposite of boring!” —9-year-old neighbour on the pet radish, shrunken 

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.”— Eduardo C. Corral on the pet radish, shrunken

Many of [Pirie’s] poems work this way, dancing and sitting still at the same time; they crack the surfaces of their subjects, freeing all kinds of things to jump out.”— Susan Gillis on the pet radish, shrunken

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.” —Daphne Marlatt on the pet radish, shrunken    

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.[…] I read the book through three times”  

— Jenny Samparisi on the pet radish, shrunken 

“the pet radish, shrunken (March), the third full collection of poetry from Pearl Pirie, deals in the poetics of sound, language, and play.”—Kerry Clare, January 26, 2015, Most Anticipated: Spring 2015 Poetry Preview

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.“—Joe LaBine on the pet radish, shrunken at Flat Singles Press

Vertigoheel for the Dilly

I do have a favourite above/ground title: Vertigoheel for the Dilly (2014) by Pearl Pirie. Another crazy title! I gather that vertigoheel is a herbal remedy for Meniere’s Disease. It’s a modest-looking chappy—as they all are—but I think it might be a major long poem in that—being by a woman—it subverts (by its music & gender & argument) & takes a whacky complex stance against those stale male tropes in the long poem we have been accepting as a template for too long. To me—Vertigoheel is useful—brave—smart—& funny. Physical / political / & ecological too. “—Phil Hall of Conjugation at above/ground press 25th anniversary essay

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. “—Ryan Pratt on Vertigoheel for the Dilly at The Puritan.    

phafours press

These playful little books consist of a single sheet, ingeniously folded to provide eight pages. Pearl’s writing is so consistently varied that it is wonderful to see her tastes and gleeful experimentation extend to her publishing projects (both in material form and in the work she is publishing). At the November book fair I picked up new tiny chapbooks in this series from Pearl, Gary Barwin, and Amanda Earl (to go with titles from Pearl and Gwendolyn Guth acquired in the summer).”—Cameron Anstee

“One of the best collections of workshop poems I’ve ever come across, and nicely assembled and produced.”

—Barbara Myers on ‘a wall’s sharp white‘ edited and published by Pearl Pirie.


“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.”— Philip on Thirsts on Amazon Review 

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] — mwpm on Thirsts at GoodReads

“The diction of a middle-aged housewife” — [name redacted] on Thirsts

been shed bore

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.”—Deborah at Goodreads on been shed bore

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

“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. “—Michael Dennis on been shed bore

“Part of what makes Pirie’s writing so compelling is her adherence to sound, and one that doesn’t go over meaning but tears through and twists.”—rob mclennan: Dusie: Top Eleven (Canadian) Poetry Books of 2011:
Phil Hall, Gregory Betts, Gary Barwin, Pearl Pirie, Stan Rogal, Sachiko Murakami, Stephanie Bolster, Gil McElroy, Sandra Ridley, Emily Carr, Meredith Quartermain & Mike Blouin.”

“singular lines (or random acts of poetry) from a bevy of poetry collections you can try to get your hands on this month.[…] ‘I love conflict like sand in a thong’ from “what to do with her heat?” in the collection “been shed bore” by Pearl Pirie, Chaudiere, 2010″— Desiree Ossandon: Canada Arts Connect on been shed bore

“a heart-work with a sharp and attentive assessing of the socio-cultural. Hers is an exactitude of emotions, complicated and questioning—a taut balance of tension and joy, abandon and restraint.”— Sandra Ridley on been shed boreAdvent Book Blog

“the book’s final section is its strongest, a 16-sonnet sequence featuring a handful of characters where the final line of one poem begins the first line of the next. The topics are common: marital counselling, fidelity (or lack thereof) and perceptions within the family unit. The language, however, is intimate and reliable: ‘Y’know dad, I’ve seen your browser history.’ As the sonnets pass on their final lines like a relay baton, the positions of perceiver and perceived also change hands and produce titles like ‘Kaylen of Joe and Janey,’ ‘Janey’s Joe’ and ‘Janey of Gil.’ With a consistent and original tone, a clear focus and a strong narrative, Pirie’s sonnet sequence establishes that sweet, sweet internal logic that also flows through Nichol’s ‘strawberries.'”— Bardia Sinaee on been shed boreIn/Words, issue 10.1 , Dec 2010

“… been shed bore is packed densely with poetry, with sound gymnastics, brilliant wordplay, with stories, recurring themes such as the difficulty of communicating, loneliness, and awkwardness caused by dealing with prejudice and societal convention. There is tenderness here, eroticism, joy of language and life, sadness and compassion. It’s a book to pick up again and again and find something different to ponder and to enjoy.”

— Amanda Earl: The Literary Blog of Amanda Earl

Her new book, been shed bore, has a beautiful website. Her work reflects what I said above about her blog: it is infused with compassion, curiosity, discovery, and inquiry, to which I should add play and a great ear for the musical possibilities of language.”— Gary Barwin: Serif of Nottingblog

“Love of lightness[…] It plays with you, its strongest poems coming on gusts of words that sort of travel allusively around each other […] she gravitates towards the looseness and joy of play with words, where she excels.”— Jeremy Mesiano-Crookston: Ottawa XPress review

“What do the most interesting poems provide? Often as many questions as there are certainties, and Pirie alternates, able to turn even her questions in on themselves. These are poems learning how to explore simply by exploring. Oh, and the places she goes.”— Globe and Mail: In Other Words on been shed bore

“Pirie’s poetry will be of interest to anyone who enjoys good wordplay, linguistic gymnastics, humour and surprising twists and turns.”— Ottawa Sneezers on been shed bore

Quebec Passages

“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.” —Michael Dennis on Quebec Passages, February 2015, Today’s Book of Poetry

“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.”—rob mclennan on Quebec Passages at Small Press Review.”

Between Stations

“works of observation and images riffing, set on a train. The theme means there is an entraining structure (the trip, the people),and there is a desire for stylisitic surprise (Pearl andthe need for anti-sense)…and some memory pieces.The result is a lot of tasty re-examinationsof things you know. […] packed with some very complex tropes and ricochets somewhat like post-av, but inside I found some highly refined linguistic acrobatics, riffing, and lang-flirt as in ‘just kiss me then’: … a tangle, a lip of the tongue, / some flaw in the ointment / the flu in the augment? more/less / the fly in the argyleness, / the flay in the target”— Jim Knowles on Between Stations at Ribbons of Intonations


“Well-centred and smoothly flowing, this humanistic poem impresses with its tone of considerate affection. Deftly symbolic […] clear natural diction, notable for its sharpness and economy.”— Tony Cosier in his judges notes on “Making Connections” which received third place in the the Ray Burrell Award for Poetry, 2005.

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.” —   rob mclennan  at Jacket2

“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.”—Sonnet L’Abbé in Best Canadian Poetry in English 2014 

“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[…]”— Andrea Martucci, Jan 2013 in Ploughshares, Literary Boroughs.

Ottawa is the poetry capital of Canada,” says Phil Jenkins—himself an Ottawa poet. He has a point. Pearl Pirie is becoming a Canadian household name.”—Vera Grbic: Apt 613

“She’s quirky, humorous, compassionate, clear-seeing, and she always finds the most interesting conjunctions of words to convey an essence.”

— Rosemary-Nissen-Wade at SnakyPoet