We don’t choose the stories we inherit, but we can stitch new futures from the threads of our past.
Selvage is a work of salvaging and selving, of salvaging a self from disparate elements. Fragments from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the language of trees talking to one another through mycelial networks, familial stories, and ruminations on the cusp of motherhood are literally and lyrically torn apart, spun, and sewn together to create a collage of what it means to be human, which is to say, what it means to be incomplete and fragmented. Mashing up the traditional lyric with innovative form and visual poetry, this experimental work is deeply personal, but it also attempts to gesture towards the human experience by showing the unfinished seams of our existence: the messy ends, beautiful twists, and unexpected new beginnings sewn together with intertwined threads of intergenerational trauma and love.
Kate Siklosi is a poet, scholar, publisher, and teacher who lives in Dish With One Spoon Territory / Toronto, Canada. Her work includes leavings (Timglaset 2021), which sold into its second printing, and six chapbooks of poetry. Her critical and creative work has been featured across North America, Europe, and the UK. She is also Sessional Faculty at McMaster University, curator of the Small Press Map of Canada, and co-founding editor of the feminist experimental small press Gap Riot Press.
“The writing in Selvage is deeply kinetic, evoking the stitching Siklosi does in her visual art as it dives down and comes up, repeating and securing, taking the reader through complex family issues, the natural world, and the strangeness of creating life. Past and future are explored in this sewing motion, a process that, like our stories, is moving ever forward while being anchored in what’s come before. …The delight and energy Siklosi [brings] to her self-styled challenge infuses the work with energy and a bright, vibrant quality, even when she is tackling, at times, difficult and deeply personal subject matter.” —Open Book
“In Selvage, Siklosi invokes motifs of leaves, stitches, and botanical growth to demonstrate the fecundity of communicative networks. A poetic vitalism prevails as she tracks connections across generations, among vivid family scenes, but also through fertile systems of trees and fungi in the living earth. At once highly personal and suggestively abstract, Siklosi’s text addresses individual grief and loss in tandem with cyclic regeneration and continuity. Throughout, she moves deftly from standard poetic form to diagrammatic structures, spatial expressions, to the use of the graphic field to have language perform its visual dimensions on the page.”—Johanna Drucker
“Selvage takes up the continuum of an immigrant life seen by a granddaughter, a settler life by one who has known no other. From the language of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the language of trees, to that of pregnancy, Kate Siklosi constructs a quiet but vibratory familial botany in touch with the new land where it now thrives. Exposing roots, struggling over fates, her poems stitch past into future, building new forms that give memory and place to the generation to come.”—Erín Moure
“Selvage is a moving investigation of self edges in the context of a violent family inheritance. These contained poems branch out into the open space of the page just as a new and other self, her first child, develops within her body. As she notes, ‘the networks we leverage/ the darkness of roots,’ yes, through a remarkable openness to language, its mycelial possibilities.”—Daphne Marlatt