Nyla Matuk, Alix Ohlin and Matthew Tierney


at the Robson Reading Series

Thursday, December 13, 2012, 7pm

UBC Bookstore at Robson Square

Robson Reading Series events are free and open to the public. To register for this event, please click here.

Make no mistake, Sumptuary Laws is a signpost book deserving of wide attention” – The Urge

Sumptuary Laws, Nyla Matuk’s first full-length collection, is a work of irresistible originality. Taking as her inspiration the feudal rules that once enforced social rank by legistating what a person was permitted to wear and eat, Matuk discovers a new metaphor for contemporary desire and explores, in wildly imaginative and linguistically daring poems, the 21st century “sumptuary laws” that dictate our divisions of luxury and necessity, splendour and squalor. A poet of immense gifts, Matuk has written a book of lasting impact.

Nyla Matuk is the author of the chapbook, Oneiric, published in 2009. Her poems have appeared in Maisonneuve, The Walrus, Canadian Notes and Queries, ARC Poetry, the Literary Review of Canada, and other publications. Her first full-length collection, Sumptuary Laws, was published in Fall 2012 with Signal Editions/Véhicule Press. She was nominated twice in 2012 for The Walrus Poetry Prize.

“Alix Ohlin: A writer who should be famous.” – The Globe and Mail

In Alix Ohlin’s Inside, we follow four compelling, complex characters from Montreal and New York to Hollywood and Rwanda, each of them with a consciousness that is utterly distinct and urgently convincing. When Grace, a highly competent and devoted therapist in Montreal, stumbles across a man in the snowy woods who has failed to hang himself, her instinct to help immediately kicks in. Before long, however, she realizes that her feelings for this charismatic, extremely guarded stranger are far from straightforward. At the same time, her troubled teenage patient, Annie, runs away and soon will reinvent herself in New York as an aspiring and ruthless actress, as unencumbered as humanly possible by any personal attachments. And Mitch, Grace’s ex-husband, a therapist as well, leaves the woman he’s desperately in love with to attend to a struggling native community in the bleak Arctic. With a razor-sharp emotional intelligence, Inside poignantly explores the manifold dangers and imperatives of making ourselves available to, and indeed responsible for, those dearest to us.

Alix Ohlin is the author of two novels, Inside and The Missing Person, and Babylon and Other Stories. Her work has appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best New American Voices, and on NPR’s “Selected Shorts.” Born and raised in Montreal, she is currently on leave from Lafayette College and will spend the year in Los Angeles.

“Lots and lots of the poems in Probably Inevitable are good poems… only Tierney could come up with something so beautiful, so linguistically earned, so sweetly charming and weird.” – The National Post

Matthew Tierney follows his celebrated collection The Hayflick Limit with, Probably Inevitable, a new group of high-energy poems riddled with wit and legerdemain and jolted by the philosophy and science of time. “Time’s not the market, it’s the bustle; / not the price but worth,” he muses, sailing through the rhythms and algorithms of a world made concrete by Samuel Johnson, before it was undone by Niels Bohr. Tierney’s narrators grapple with the gap between what’s seen and what’s experienced, their minds tuned to one (probably) inevitable truth: the more I understand, the more I understand I’m alone.

What continues to set Matthew Tierney’s poems apart is their uncanny ability to find within the nomenclature of science not mere novelty but a new path to human frailty, a renewed assertion of individuality, and a genuine awe at existence.

Matthew Tierney is the author of two books of poetry. His second, The Hayflick Limit (Coach House Books, 2009) was shortlisted for a Trillium Book Award. He is a former winner of the K.M. Hunter Award, and has placed his poems in numerous journals and magazines all across Canada. His next book, Probably Inevitable, considers the science and philosophy of time and will come out in Fall 2012. He lives in Toronto.