“In Shared Universe, Paul Vermeersch embarks on a quest for wisdom in a post-real world. Commandeering whatever icons he can dig out of the rubble—cartoon heroes, crank prophecies, goofball rules, and revelations—he insists we can learn from even the tackiest guides to enlightenment. But while we ponder these make-believe disciplines, he hits us with aching threnodies for Earth and its vanished denizens. His quest is antic, on a field of despair. Are we at a carnival or a wake? 
     There are precedents for such a wacky gravitas: think of David McFadden, Stuart Ross, F. in Beautiful Losers. But Vermeersch is his own man, with a full-tilt vision and a voice to go with it. Rage, and a cascade of zany tricks. Hee-haw and kaddish. This is a guide like no other—a sly, heartbroken primer for desperate times.”  Dennis Lee 

 Shared Universe is an encounter with the primordial, the enduring, and the not-yet. The guide is a poet in the fullness of his gifts. Each of Vermeersch’s lines is tempered with an imagination where play is gravity and bond, manifest in the materials of his quarter-century devotion to recovering the deadened imagination from the world’s blunt instruments. The rarity in this work is that it reads like a single epic where the poet holds the missteps of the known world in one hand as he regards the overabundance of the mysteries surrounding it in the other. The result is a marvellous syncopation of poetry’s most essential quality, angled toward the new challenges of the twenty-first century: how to hold in language what escapes us. Listen close and you might hear the applause of worlds far away from here."  Canisia Lubrin
“The essence of Shared Universe condenses itself, for me, in lines from ‘I Feel Love: Hi-NRG’: ‘I feel love for the story that / loops back on itself, that loops back on itself / and is told anew, that is told anew and sees / its heroes transformed and its Empress renamed.’ Paul Vermeersch’s poetry is transfiguration dreaming its new figures in a hopefulness conjured by beautiful, dynamic verse. This ‘new and selected poems’ is in fact a metamorphosis itself, an altogether new work, because here the book as a whole is the unit of composition. Vermeersch has arranged and added to a career’s poetic venturing to bring out as never before his poetry’s thrust toward the future, its transhuman and newly human move toward total inclusiveness and the imagining of possibility.”  A. F. Moritz

Poems are not just words and sounds and meanings. Poems are lenses. Poems are shields. Poems are ships and silences and sanctuaries. And these precisely selected poems, the processes of perception, imagination, and creation their reordering centres, offer the lenses and shields and sails we need today to endure, resist, and change . . . We experience the joy, hurt, wonder, and awareness that arises when we immerse ourselves in the work of a gifted, distinctive artist, and, just as importantly, we become intimate with the vision and tools necessary to witnessing, encountering, opposing, and transforming our dark times. — Daniel Scott Tysdal, from the introduction. 

Paul Vermeersch is a major poet. How, nowadays, when most new poetry books are praised as superb (like the Irish father whose daughters were each of them more beautiful than all the others), does one praise a book which really is better than the rest? ...The poems, always perceptive, sometimes achingly sad, and sometimes achingly funny — are real poems. That is, they are written with an ear for the sound of our language: for the basic iambic of English, for the drama of emotion and wit, for the richly suggestive possibilities of pun and colloquial usage. Many of Vermeersch’s poems are sonnets (unrhymed); there are long sequences richly developed, each of which deserves an essay as long as Tysdal’s. And there are jokes, and bits of music — a magnificent potpourri! And all set against a universe imaged as always just beyond our imagination: galaxies, monsters, myths, aliens, and our childish selves.  M. Travis Lane, The Fiddlehead

Instead of arranging groups of poems chronologically, according to the collection from which they are pulled, they are instead arranged according to how they might have appeared in imaginary alternate-universe collections.... The result is a book that feels essential... An exceptional collection and a must-have for any seriously non-serious lover of poetry.  Jonathan BallWinnipeg Free Press

Vermeersch’s poems are aware of something else, something darker, more macabre. Incorporating nostalgic space imagery and ideas of the future from decades past against an encroaching dystopia, Vermeersch’s first-person narratives write from a semi-optimistic pessimism, a joyful darkness; the future is here, and it is not what we had been hoping for.  rob mclennan

This is Paul Vermeersch’s New and Selected poems encompassing over two decades of the poet’s work, and it is a phantasmagoria of childhood cartoons, post-human imaginings, literary monsters, species extinction, and the poet’s other odd-ball obsessions. Paul has carved a wide swath through the landscape of Canadian poetry, both as a poet and as an editor, and his poetic voice is uniquely his own.  Chris Banks, 49th Shelf

In a sense, this book is a massive cento of all of Vermeersch’s influences, ghosts, memories, planetary spheres, nightmares, and other stinging flotsam & jetsam of a wildly discursive, diverging and deadly mind... Vermeersch is at his most vital when he draws on the vatic voice, a rarity in Can-Po, utilizing repetition, anaphora, and the potent directive line. Catherine Owen, Marrow Reviews

“Rather than arrange the poems in his new and selected chronologically, perfervid postmodern poet Paul Vermeersch has arranged them according to 'prophecy and mythos.' Including a combination of greatest hits and deep cuts, this collection is a representative sample of the poet’s iconoclastic career.
 Quill and Quire, fall 2020 poetry preview

A collection of poetry by Paul Vermeersch is more than a book, it's an adventure. It's a trip to the stars and down memory lane, a voyage into the depths of pulp culture and western civilization. Shared Universe is poetry's equivalent to a blockbuster, but unlike it's cinematic counterparts, it has heart, wit and the dimensionality to kick the reader's imagination into overdrive. It's a truly fine collection of poems from one of the most original and talented voices in Canada, perhaps the whole universe! — Jeff Dupuis

"Vermeersch is to poetry what Douglas Adams is to science fiction . . .   A delightful collection of poetry." Evilcyclist's Bookshelf

ECW Press, 2018

"Self-Defence for the Brave and Happy has arrived, and not a moment too soon! Nothing less than a manual for navigating the current landscape of booby-traps and hidden unravelling. An invaluable aid in this time of troubled spirits, muddled truths, and convoluted thinking. Paul Vermeersch has created a template to help us all traverse the highways and bi-ways of an increasingly confused and confusing world full of misinformationalism and bald-faced lies." — Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO

"Replete with deep thinking and reflection, revealing the poet's wide-ranging intellect, eclectic mind, and penchant for sharp satire."— Publishers Weekly 

"Poetry and futurism are both visionary genres, but they don't often go hand in hand. Unless you're Paul Vermeersch." CBC's The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers

"When you can’t trust anything, the poems argue, your imagination becomes the only valid interpreter of reality…. Part inspirational tract (borne of a deliciously playful inspiration, not the usual kind), part prophetic revelation, and all crafted with Vermeersch’s signature elan, Self Defence for the Brave and Happy is a generous chocolate box stuffed with bon(-bon) mots, the perfect gift for your inner visionary. Shine on, you crazy zircon." — RM Vaughan, THIS Magazine

"Vermeersch captures our culture’s anxieties in these eclectic poems, which range widely in form and draw from pop culture, science (particularly in the Space Age) and literature. Our fears take metaphoric shape as age-old monsters such as the bogeyman and the malicious hag of folklore, but also as real-life menaces such as the atom bomb. The tone is not all doom-laden, though, for Vermeersch suggests that the way forward is through our capacity for imagination." — Barb Carey, The Toronto Star

"One of the great pleasures of reading Vermeersch is not only in his attention to words... but also the way a poem drifts from a unique starting point to something wildly unexpected. This Vermeerschian Drift quantum jumps from line to line through humour, surprise, and a ton of ratiocination." — Kevin Spenst, SubTerrain Magazine

"Pataphysics meets pulp in Paul Vermeersch's sixth collection...a canny pop acceleration equal to the obdurate cargo of politics." — Jesse Eckerlin, Quill and Quire

"In Paul Vermeersch’s conception, we have no need for fictional dystopias: we are living in one right now. The poet’s sixth full-length collection offers a road map for navigating our current moment. One of the poems – 'How to Protect Yourself from Monsters' – could serve as an alternate title for this frightening, yet paradoxically hopeful, work." Quill and Quire, fall 2018 poetry preview

"The near absence of any authorial speech that is not undercut by irony is part of a broader attack on traditional lyric and traditional narrative, implicit in Vermeersch’s post-modern style and more directly expressed in poems such as “The Modern Novel” and the final section “Leviathan,” where contradictory futures range from post-human desolation to trans-human transcendence. The collection explodes stereotypes of both science fiction and future history, especially the false dichotomy of utopia and dystopia." — Brent Raycroft, Arc Poetry Magazine

"Self-Defence for the Brave and Happy, the sixth collection by poet, professor, artist and editor Paul Vermeersch, feels like a flashlight found in a blackout... it strives to give practical examples of better dreaming for the future." — James Lindsay, Open Book

"A deeply intelligent collection that uses its interest in form to contribute significantly to the thoughtful arguments of its content. It both delights during a quick read and rewards careful re-reading... Self-Defence for the Brave and Happy is perceptive, carefully-crafted, melancholy and funny. The simultaneously critical and wryly amused attitude of the collection is perhaps the only self-defence that we have against time and the monsters of our own creation." — Amy Mitchell, The Temz Review

"Vermeersch is a poet who calls upon myth, robotics, space travel, nursery rhymes, pop culture, and other detrital allusiveness to construct his visual formalities, which teem with innovative envisionings... whose weird euphonies are crafted to be recited in both end and forever times." — Catherine Owen, Canadian Literature

"I guarantee that if you read this poetry book the wrongness of the world will seem a little more right."— Michelle Berry, The 49th Shelf

"It’s like waking from a dream where you’ve been searching through the ruins for — what? Love? Hope? The way back to your world? Only you realize that you’ve been awake all along and the dreams you have are the moments of clarity amid all the madness. Or maybe it’s the other way around. How can you even tell anymore?" Peter Darbyshire

"Self-Defence for the Brave and Happy is a live virus vaccine for our times, inoculating the reader against the surreality of today’s headlines with a healthy dose of its own. Vermeersch’s poems, flavored with 1950s science fiction and Cold War paranoia, are like the dark lenses in John Carpenter’s They Live, providing a way to see our society more clearly as we race toward climate collapse. It’s not with a strict sense of dread that Vermeersch shows us the end, but wit, wonder, imagination and humor." Jeff Dupuis

"While the collection might begin in some rather dark places, Vermeersch’s use of humour, pop culture, surrealism and collage work to disarm the increasing anxieties surrounding the darkest possibilities of humanity’s demise.... Between the lyric narratives, essay-poems and visual pieces, I’m intrigued by the broadening of Vermeersch’s structural scope, and how everything contained fits so nicely together." rob mclennan

"Monsters, futuristic machines, and disinformation abound in this dystopian poetry collection that is a survival guide for what’s clearly coming." The Coil, Most Anticipated September 2018 Books

ECW Press, 2014

"Vermeersch's lines reach out like a reckoning storm." -- Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press

"He brandishes a hallucinatory aesthetic, truly visionary, akin to controversial filmmaker Lars von Trier, and fashion wunderkind Alexander McQueen: morbid and glorious, extravagant, obscure, with an almost taxidermic fixation on the sublime and horrifying." -- Diego Báez, Lemon Hound

"Vermeersch's writing is a fascinating example of what 21st century poetry could be, should be, or already is. The poetry collection brings disparate ideas, texts, moments, and forms together and, in doing so, functions as a kind of poetic representation of social media and internet use. But Don't Let It is also deeply embedded in the offline world, in the rubble of the everyday, and Vermeersch never shies away from the humour in the darkness..." -- CV2

"Demonstrating remarkable virtuosity and range, Vermeersch here assumes the mantle of the prophetic, post-apocalyptic poet, and the poems suitably offer a paradoxical mix of cynicism and hope." -- Jason Wiens, Quill and Quire

"Goodness, it's quite a book. Apocalyptic in its concerns, Don't Let It End... gets at its big questions through poems written within various formal restraints (gloss, erasure poems, found poems, and more).... we were too afraid to look at the world, and at what we were doing. But now, Vermeersch insists, he will look, and we are invited to look with him. To sift through the rubble and see the error that was there all along." -- Rob Taylor, PRISM International

"With the art references, architectural language, philosophical musings, literary hat tips, and found text, a multi-genre work like Don't Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something is a book I'm compelled to read with an open window to Google... While the Academy led me to Atwood, Ondaatje, and Cohen, I'm happy to return--with a little context--to Vermeersch." -- Domenica Martinello, The Town Crier

"Deconstruction and reassembly of text are not new literary devices, but Vermeersch takes them beyond their potential for depersonalization and imbues them with his characteristic warmth." -- Kimmy Beach, Arc Poetry Magazine

"Vermeersch’s chorus of textual eidolons is manifestly inviting. From the first section of the initial long poem, “Magog,” the voices drag you in exquisitely." -- Catherine Owen

"It’s the sort of writing that sinks down into the little nooks and crannies in your brain and bubbles away there. Incredible stuff." -- Peter Darbyshire

"Paul Vermeersch’s latest poetry collection Don’t Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something, is an ode to language left after the end of civilization. Scouring the poetic landscape with various prose harvesting methods such as cut-ups, centos and erasures, Vermeersch collects work and molds it into new structures. He does this on the conceptual setting of future decay. Through that world Vermeersch renders the words anew and reveals the inherent experimental nature of poetry." -- Jacqueline Valencia

"The collection is divided into six sections, the title of each one just as startling as the collection title. Moving through them creates a feeling of wading through time, in and out of the present moment, until the timeframe becomes hazy. Vermeersch interchangeably explores both personal and social destruction, convincingly demonstrating how the two coexist." -- Margaryta Golovchenko, The Coil

"It's surprising in the forms it takes, but not surprising in its deftness and intelligence. A must read." -- Stuart Ross 

McClelland and Stewart, 2010

★ A finalist for the Trillium Book Award.

"What have you been doing to Paul Vermeersch?"

-- Michael Ondaatje, The New Yorker

"I read Vermeersch's latest collection in a single sitting, which I don't do very often. The language is dense, but there's such a strong rhythmic pull to it -- to me, gloriously reminiscent of James Dickey -- that you just get carried; at times, it feels as though it's being spoken to you by the most captivating and enlightened tent preacher. There's also a deep empathy in Vermeersch's work that helps to remind me what poety -- what language -- is, or should be, about." -- Johanna Skibsrud, Globe and Mail

"The Reinvention of the Human Hand by Paul Vermeersch is a remarkable collection, deep and rich." -- George Fetherling, Globe and Mail

"[His] poetry ranks among the finiest inked by any poet of his generation." -- Judith Fitzgerald, Globe and Mail

"The Reinvention of the Human Hand is, quite simply, a powerhouse book of poetry, an astonishing feat for a poet who has not yet turned forty." -- Mark Sampson, Maisonneuve

"Like all poetry worthy of attention, The Reinvention of the Human Hand is not for the faint of heart, though its poems about savagery are in themselves gentle and measured observances of how to live in the world and remain curious about the future. This is a book that has the courage of its convictions, supplied through intense focus on the cultural turn in the natural world." -- Tanis MacDonald, The Malahat Review

"Vermeersch’s writing has a lyrical elegance and an extravagant horror that lingers and invites us to re-think how we are living.... The poems invite us to consider what makes us inhumane, yet encourage us to reflect on what allows us to reclaim our humanity.... they also are a testimony of the power of art, imagination, and stories to transform ourselves and the world in which we live." -- Dee Horne, The Mark

"Both a swan song to our shared primordial past and an examination of how the animal within thrives in spite of, or perhaps in retaliation to, our best efforts to subdue it, The Reinvention of the Human Hand might very well be the year’s most astute meditation on human nature and its lingering past." -- Andrew MacDonald, Maple Tree Literary Supplement

"What Vermeersch does best in his current work is ultimately a theoretical -- or at least highly conceptual -- project. By exposing the tensions that stretch not only between individuals but between cultures, species and even epochs -- Vermeersch shows us one way to navigate that difficult pathway between being and meaning. " -- Amy Lavender Harris, Open Book Toronto

"As an example of the broad humanistic possibilities of the lyrical collection, this book is about as strong as it gets. Vermeersch engages with a great variety of subject matter, from disease to evolution to space travel to cell phones to apes, but does it all with a certain stalwart publicness that keeps it civilization-facing throughout." -- Jacob McArthur Mooney, Canadian Bookshelf

"The poems in Reinvention demonstrate a keen sympathetic imagination... Some of them function almost as secular hymns, leavening awe with pragmatism... Like the prehistoric artists of Lascaux, Vermeersch has given us a superb and haunting rendition of the biological world and the human place within it. " -- Peter Norman, The Mansfield Review

"The Reinvention of the Human Hand is a gorgeous sucker punch of a book. Vermeersch has that rare gift of using small, deceptively simple words to produce immense impact. He takes from popular culture people, icons, animals that have fascinated us, spectacles that conflict us, reminds us we are both audience and the wizard behind the curtain." -- Roxanna Bennett

"It's a rare book of Canadian poetry attempts to navigate the interstices of science, art, apocalypse, human longing, invention, and depravity. It's rarer still to write a book, a poem, or even a line that stays in the mind for months after the reading. On both counts, Paul Vermeersch's The Reinvention of the Human Hand succeeds more than any book of Canadian poetry I have read or am likely to." -- Brenda Leifso, Arc Poetry Magazine

"In concept and execution, in its pure poetry, it is the best collection I know of published in at least the last 10 years." -- John MacKenzie, Mumbling Jack

"There are too many poignant and memorable moments in these poems to do justice in this review space, but suffice it to say that, with its considerable and consistent ability to stop its readers in their tracks with its originality, imagery, and general linguistic muscle... Vermeersch’s book could well have appeared alongside those of his publishing housemates on the shortlist for this year’s Griffin Prize. Given the promise and strength of The Reinvention of the Human Hand, Vermeersch’s place alongside such relative giants as Steffler and Brand is a comfortable one, and very well deserved." -- Owen Percy, The Goose

McClelland and Stewart, 2005

"poetry at its best" -- Books in Canada

"The poet has given us much to sink our teeth into: a thoughtful, coherent package where each poem works in its own right and, in some cases, either echoes a pervious one or foreshadows one to come. And he does so without being manipulative, without grandstanding or resorting to the clever, look-at-me antics of lesser writers. This, to me, is craft at its finest." -- Carolyn Marie Souaid, The Montreal Gazette

 "Between the Walls is an impressive collection, low-key in demeanour but high-powered in effect." -- Barbara Carey, The Toronto Star 

"Between the Walls is an ideal sidekick for an indoor night, when loneliness feels better than it sounds." -- Quill and Quire

ECW Press, 2002

"In a timely reversal of one of the most felt anxieties of the American world, these poems sing sweet and play rough: eloquent, but always ready for a vengeful beating in the school yard." -- David McGimpsey

"The poems are sharply observed and pitch-perfect; by turns, they can make you squirm or laugh....Overall, reading The Fat Kid is like looking at masculinity and our cultural obsession with appearance in a funhouse mirror. It's both warped, and wise." -- Barabra Carey, The Toronto Star

 "Vermeersch’s writing is clear and powerful. The Fat Kid should be required reading in high-school English classes." -- Susy Webb, Discorder Magazine

ECW Press, 2000

★ A finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award.

"Burn is an arresting debut...the real thing. We need more from Paul Vermeersch." -- Dennis Lee

"Again and again in these furious, forgiving, courageous poems, we are led through the fire of compressed anger or longing and shown that just being alive is to burn." -- Arc Poetry Magazine

"Vermeersch demonstrates his true skills in the delicate simplicity of words. He is at the bright beginning of a long career." -- Broken Pencil

"Vermeersch transcends time and self through luminous turns of language and singular states of mind." -- Karl Jirgens, Canadian Literature

"His writing is more terse than Bringhurst's, less political than Purdy's, but the best of these poems hold their own in that company." -- Kevin Connolly, Eye Weekly


Harbour Publishing, 2009

A celebration of the most unlikely, outrageous and important gathering place in modern Canadian writing, with contributions from Dennis Lee, Eurithe Purdy, F.R. Scott, George Galt, Joe Rosenblatt, Margaret Atwood, George Bowering, D.G. Jones, Sid Marty, Steven Heighton, Howard White, David McFadden, David Helwig, Janet Lunn, Paul Vermeersch, Michael Ondaatje and others.

The I.V. Lounge Reader

Insomniac Press, 2001

Since May 1998 book lovers have gathered in a small, inconspicuous cafe across from the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto to hear some of Canada's best writers read from their latest works. From national award-winning poets such as Dennis Lee and David Donnell, to the leading writers of new fiction such as Lynn Crosbie and Derek McCormack, to first-time authors and local favourites, the I V Lounge Reading Series has provided an intimate space for members of the literary community to share their craft with the public. This anthology offers samples of the best and most memorable readings of the past two years, including fiction and poetry never before published. Each entry, selected by series founder Paul Vermeersch, captures the spirit of the I V Lounge Reading Series.


Includes all the poets from the 2013 Queensland Poetry Festival, including: Shane Rhodes, TT.O., Jacqueline Turner, Jon Paul Fiorentino, Sachiko Muarakami, Tao Lin, Paul Vermeersch, Anthony Lawrence, Felicity Plunkett, Ian McBriyde, Nathan Shepherdson, Siobhan Harvey, and many, many more.

"Featuring the finest contemporary poets from across Australia and around the world, Queensland Poetry Festival is a showcase of the very best in spoken word and sonic art. This anthology gathers together a selection of these diverse poetic voices, from household names to fresh new artists. An intimate collection of innovative and exciting poetry, sure to animate, delight, and inspire. The 2013 'spoken in one strange word' anthology is a limited edition print-run of only 100 copies, featuring poets from around Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the U.S

Exile Editions, 2009

Editor: Priscila Uppal  

A groundbreaking multilingual collection promoting a global poetic consciousness, this volume presents the works of 20 international poets, all in their original languages, alongside English translations by some of Canada's most esteemed poets. Providing an introductory statement about the translation process of each poem, translating poets include Canadians Ken Babstock, Dionne Brand, Nicole Brossard, Barry Callaghan, A. F. Moritz, and Paul Vermeersch, among others; while subjects include poems by Pablo Neruda, Horace, Ezra Pound, Herman de Coninck, Arthur Rimbaud, Alexander Pushkin, and Rainer Maria Rilke. Spanning several time periods and more than a dozen nations, this compendium paints a truly unique portrait of cultures, nationalities, and eras.

VERSschmuggel, ReVERSible, RéVERSible

Wunderhorn Verlag (Germany) and Éditions du Noroît (Canada), 2008

Edited by Aurélie Maurin and Thomas Wohlfahrt  

At the 2007 Berlin Poetry Festival, six Anglophone Canadian poets, six Francophone Canadian poets, and six German-speaking poets from around the world were matched up in a round-robin-style translation summit, and this anthology records the results. It also includes an audio CD of the readings from the festival event. I was matched up with the fabulous Marc André Brouillette from Quebec and Robert Schindel from Austria. The poets in this completely trilingual anthology include: Ken Babstock, Karen Solie, Paul Vermeersch, Erin Moure, Suzanne Buffam, Tim Lilburn, Claude Beausoleil, Denise Desautels, Stéphane Despatie, Hélène Dorion, Louise Dupré, Orsolya Kalász, Nico Bleutge, Sabine Scho, Lutz Seiler, and Jan Wagner.

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