Thin Air of the Knowable
“Wendy Donawa’s Thin Air of the Knowable is a rigorous questioning of time–how we perceive it, how we contain it and how we live it. She turns to the artifacts of private and collective experience to craft springboards for her exploration of nostalgia and desire. Her flexing, shifting verse gives us contemporaneity in ancient discovery, “[s]mall beauties“ on the ”demonic journey”, intimacy in strangeness and the endurance of ephemeral moments in memory and story.”
Jury comments on Thin Air of the Knowable, finalist for the 2018 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award.
"A delicate & very successful expression of the inexpressible beauty of any living moment." Longlist, Raymond Souster Award
"A noteworthy aspect of Thin Air of the Knowable is Donawa’s concern with issues of imperial contact, particularly the history of slavery in the Caribbean…. In another poem, Donawa’s speaker reflects on her own strange (i.e., not neutral) whiteness: “I knew this place, comfort amid discomfort, / though sometimes saw my pale face in shop windows / . . . history’s sins stamped on my forehead.” ... Donawa’s awareness that the material effects of imperialism do not vanish but remain, embodied, links her contact poems to her poems of personal loss and grief." (Canadian Review of Literature)
“Wendy Donawa’s poetry rests at the very edge of beauty where a wild delicacy resides.” Patrick Lane
“Like the watchmakers of old, Wendy Donawa puts a spyglass to her eye and fixes her vision to the minute, to all that carries on beneath our imperfect sight—worlds upon worlds brought into the sharpest focus.” Pamela Porter
This elegiac and incisive debut collection blends poems of social justice with poems of everyday life. The physical landscapes of the poet's life -- BC west coast, Caribbean, prairies -- ground the poems and often reflect the inner geography of her preoccupations. Donawa is, in many way, a political poet, yet manages to put flesh and blood into everything she writes.