The Suicide's Son
My second full-length poetry collection, The Suicide's Son, was published in 2019 by the Montreal-based publisher Véhicule Press.
Individual poems from The Suicide’s Son were first published in 32 Poems, Alaska Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review, Hazlitt, The Hopkins Review, Little Star, Literary Matters, The London Review of Books, Narrative, The New York Review of Books, Poetry Northwest, The Southern Review, The Walrus, and The Yale Review. Poems also appeared in the Academy of American Poets' Poem-A-Day project, in Resistance, Rebellion, Life: 50 Poems Now (Knopf 2017), Still Life with Poem: 100 Natures Mortes in Verse (Literary House Press 2016), The Next Wave: An Anthology of 21st Century Canadian Poetry (Palimpsest Press 2018), Resisting Canada: An Anthology of Poetry (Véhicule Press 2019), Best Canadian Poetry in English 2016 (Tightrope Books 2016), Beyond Forgetting: Celebrating 100 Years of Al Purdy (Harbour Publishing 2018), and Here: Poems for the Planet (Copper Canyon Press 2019).
Though I work mainly in free verse, I often think of poetry in formal (i.e. structural) terms, and I try to write poems whose meaning is determined at least partly by the repetition and organization of sound. Many of my poems contain rhyme and what I think of as “runs” of iambic or anapestic meter, but I’m very interested in trying to capture what I think of as a kind of asymmetrical beauty, so I often establish metrical expectations only for the sake of breaking them. I aspire to write poems that are rhythmically well-constructed, down to the level of the syllable, but also indivisible in their parts, so that the reader cannot easily separate the poem into discrete metrical feet or metrical phrases; disorder, or a pattern that is varied to the point of seeming disordered, is beautiful, from my perspective, and I want to convey that beauty rhythmically.
I think of myself as an oral poet, and write more for an audience than for a readership, though publishing is of course an important part of my professional life. When performing, I recite my poems from memory.
Praise for The Suicide's Son:
"In The Suicide’s Son, we encounter [Arthur's] mastery of individual lyrics, but the collection is more than the best of his journal publications. It gathers in the mind as a single text as Arthur both poses and answers questions about the ideas, objects, and traits we broadly inherit—as family members, as members of a culture, as animals—and how we respond to the often troubling content of that inheritance."
-- Literary Matters
"Nothing is inscrutable or imprecise. It all adds up to maximum impact conveyed directly from the words to the reader’s brain, and via brain to heart."
-- 32 Poems
"Rootlessness ebbs and flows, all while the cogs and underpinnings churn and grind each poem into a solid object that transcends the quotidian. These words are ordered to last."
-- RHINO Reviews
"The poems in James Arthur’s new collection, The Suicide’s Son, convey a mastery of resonance and form while dealing with topics that are relevant and real."
-- Montreal Review of Books