Hear Joanna read from If There Were Roads

Joanna Lilley launches If There Were Roads
At the launch of If There Were Roads
at Baked Café, Whitehorse, in 2017
(Photograph by Tony Gonda)

Joanna Lilley is giving readings from her second poetry collection, If There Were Roads, thanks to support from the Government of Yukon's Touring Artist Fund. She's already visited Muenster, Winnipeg and Toronto this year and has readings coming up at the BIG LIT festival in Scotland as well as in Vancouver, Victoria and Alaska. Find out about dates and venues.

If There Were Roads was published by Turnstone Press, a press Joanna has long admired from afar. (They're in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and she's all the way away in Whitehorse, Yukon.) The poems in the collection emerged out of a nostalgia for the many places Joanna has lived and her slow evolution into a Canadian immigrant fulfilling a dream to go north. You can buy If There Were Roads online or if you're in Yukon you can get it at Mac's Fireweed Books in Main Street, Whitehorse.

This is what the publisher says about If There Were Roads: 'Guided by the geography of land and mind, the familiar and the unknown converge in If There Were Roads by Joanna Lilley. Pulled like the tide between the sea and the shore, If There Were Roads drives toward new vistas while reflecting on what has been lost in the process of moving forward. Lilley’s poems explore the paths we take from here to there when there are no roads to guide us.'

And some other kind words about the collection:

‘Joanna Lilley claims in her poem “Two Ghosts” that “it wasn’t supposed to be about the people,” yet that is exactly what If There Were Roads is about—people and what they do to the bodies of animals; people on journeys accompanied by ghosts, and myth, and crows; people both lost and at home. Lilley’s journey takes us into the cycles of the seasons where certainty exists only in acute observation and reflection. If There Were Roads is haunting and luscious, full of place and heart.’

– Micheline Maylor, Little Wildheart

‘Poems of place and displacement, of leaving home and finding home, move seamlessly through inner and outer landscapes in Lilley’s lively, evocative collection. Arresting and captivating, If There Were Roads is poetry brimming with new ways of seeing.’

– Catherine Graham, The Celery Forest

The Birthday Books is full of northern stories

Author Joanna Lilley.
(Photograph by Glenn Rudman.)
Joanna's short story collection, The Birthday Books, was published by Hagios Press in 2015 in their Strike Fire New Author Series. It's full of stories about northern places - Yukon, Nunavut, Alaska, Scotland and Greenland. If you live in Whitehorse, Yukon, you can buy it at Mac's Fireweed Books and at Coles. It's online too.

The wonderful painting on the cover, called Shelley, is by the Alberta-born artist John Brocke who sadly died in 2009. The painting hangs in the Foothills hospital in Calgary.

Here's what's being said about The Birthday Books:

"Joanna Lilley’s stories shoot for the Pole; they are in love with the north. They do just what short stories must do: introduce people we want to know, places we can hardly imagine, all in language as precise, as rich as poetry, clear as deep northern lakes. Lilley writes with great heart. Each story has a spirit. Each story stretches its arms to the broad northern sky."

– Arleen Paré, novelist, poet and winner of the 2014 Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry

"In her debut collection, Joanna Lilley empathetically enters lives as different as those of an Inuit sculptor, a middle-aged Scottish sheep farmer, and a trapeze artist who wants to run away from the circus. Her empathy extends to animals, plants, and the natural world, and her rural and wilderness settings captivate. Lilley also offers readers a fresh UK perspective on the Canadian landscape in clean uncluttered prose—a winter lake is “glutinous”—that is leavened with dry wit."

– Patricia Robertson
The Goldfish Dancer: Stories and Novella