An off-beat examination of the denials that underpin extractive capitalism.
From the cratered lake of Chennai, India to the environmental racism of Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Tokyo-3, Sunny Ways oscillates between images of environmental collapse and resistance.
Standing waist deep in the massive tailing ponds of Alberta’s Tar Sands, Sunny Ways wades through the tangled complicities of climate catastrophe. In the process, the book grapples with the failure of political hope and the intransigence of climate change denialism. Fitzpatrick channels his experiences growing up in the big sky economic pragmatism of Calgary, where oil pays the rent and puts food on the table, into an essayistic pair of long poems that echo the ecological poetics of writers like Rita Wong, Stephen Collis, and Juliana Spahr.
ryan fitzpatrick is the publisher of the online-based and poetry-focused Model Press. He was on the editorial collective of filling Station magazine and helped found the Flywheel Reading Series. He is the author of four books of poetry, including Sunny Ways (Invisible Publishing) and Coast Mountain Foot (Talonbooks). A former resident of Calgary and Vancouver, ryan now lives in Toronto.
“Casually self-deprecating, cripplingly deadpan and cynical to the point of despair, fitzpatrick’s Sunny Ways is a record of fighting the noblest of fights — humanity’s fight for our future — and losing miserably. Extraordinarily perceptive, yet relatable to over-thinkers everywhere, Sunny Ways offers solidarity in a seemingly impossible struggle: to reconcile the banalities of everyday life in Canada with our collective responsibility for the ongoing destruction of our planet.”—John Nyman, Carousel Magazine
“In this caustic missive from life’s precipice, ryan fitzpatrick rejuvenates the storied pact of lyricism and ecology for our colonial present. Neither either/or nor neither/nor, fitzpatrick’s mordant inventorying of capitalism’s last crisis resists psychic despair and millenarian elation at once; making a refrain of negation and a torrent of its double-edged critique. In its abstentions and anathemas, essays and eddies, Sunny Ways jams its own sources as it lucidly refuses the hegemony of good cheer.”—Cam Scott, author of The Vanishing Signs
“fitzpatrick’s work increasingly embraces an aesthetic core shared with what has long been considered a Kootenay School of Writing standard—a left-leaning worker-centred political and social engagement that begins with the immediate local, articulated through language accumulation, touchstones and disjointedness… [However,] fitzpatrick responds to the specific concerns of his Alberta origins, emerging from a culture and climate that insists on enrichment through mineral extraction even to the point of potential self-annihilation.”—rob mclennan
“To write explicitly political poetry that resists pieties and platitudes and to explore responsibility for harm without giving over entirely to denial or becoming mired in shame is a difficult project, and fitzpatrick manages the challenge with dexterity and wit.”—Winnipeg Free Press
“There you are—at the edge of history, trying ‘to hum along / to some kind of reconciling melody.’ When the water levels rise, there are only islands. The ‘distance / between you and you’ and I and us are all muddled up in ‘the uneven distribution / of environmental burden.’ You try to find ‘the difference between person and population’ to wash yourself of this burden, only to find that we are all implicated in our bad efforts, our active complacency. Yeah, no we are all responsible for our defensive reactions when faced with the reality of our complicity, but ryan fitzpatrick’s Sunny Ways reorients oppositional points of language, negates affirmation, exposes the internal contradictions of our ecologically disinclined economics. fitzpatrick brings you in and out of yourself, criss-crossing your feeble desires with those of extractive industries. You long for a song to ease your trepidations about the future, but you are already in that future, and the song has long been forgotten.”—Anahita Jamali Rad, author of For Love and Autonomy and Still
“A wonder of a book that makes strange and new the overlapping frames of the mind in an extractive culture: locally, nationally, internationally made. This is the better anthem for our petro-state, one that makes the rhetoric flow less smoothly. Sing that sand into the gears, poet.”—Wayde Compton, author of The Outer Harbour
Praise for Coast Mountain Foot:
“The lyric flux of ryan fitzpatrick’s poetry performs the ‘social intimacy’ at play when home is not a ‘static container.’ The poems pose an intimate tension questioning the spaces that fluctuate between living and working, renting and thinking, the coast and the foothills. These are neighbourhood songs of the self.”—Fred Wah, author of Music at the Heart of Thinking
“In Coast Mountain Foot, ryan fitzpatrick enacts the empathy required to imagine spaces of possible connection outside capital. Charting the rapacious millionaire settler class currently reshaping cities everywhere, he presents Vancouver as a history of displacement, Calgary as a history of paving over. What holds a city together when everything is monetizable? Here in the struggle, fitzpatrick has carved out a space to form a social bond, if only for the length of a line.”—Nikki Reimer, author of My Heart Is a Rose Manhattan
“‘No / solutions, only problematizations’ are on offer in fitzpatrick’s poems, which at turns offer biting critique, sidelong jokes or thoughtful questions … Through it all, fitzpatrick displays real command of the line, but resists showiness or performing emotion the way too many poets do, and the resulting poems ‘Don’t get / too sentimental // but don’t / abandon sentiment.’”—Winnipeg Free Press