Reviews and interviews
Reviews of Endlings
'...this collection isn’t any preachy diatribe with thundering lessons to behold. The poems are, as Lilley’s work always is, beautifully crafted with an amazingly attentive eye to detail,'
– Heidi Greco, The Ormsby Review
'I highly recommend reading this fascinating collection of well-crafted poems that speak to the human capacity for wonderment. If the title sounds unusual it’s because the term endling has only recently been coined to refer to the last individual of a species or sub-species.'
Interviews about Endlings
Reviews of Worry Stones'It’s a beautiful novel that captures the importance of the lands in which we ground ourselves, and how damaging our uprooting from those places of identification can be. Lilley illuminates all over again the complexity and friction of family relationships, and ultimately reveals that trying to outrun one’s own dissatisfaction with life is never truly possible.'
– Jenna Butler, The Ormsby Review
'With tenderness and poetic vision, Lilley beautifully portrays the complex connections we have to family. An enthralling story written with boundless love for the natural world.'
– Maia Caron, author of Song of Batoche
'Worry Stones is a gorgeously written novel. I stayed up late reading it and then treated myself to a chapter each morning.'
– Julie Salverson, author of Lines of Flight
'Art and artistry wend their way through the novel as a leitmotif: what drives us to create art, why we consume it, and how art informs us of who we are. Fans of Lilley’s award-nominated poetry, and readers who appreciate elegantly crafted imagery, will enjoy Worry Stones—a novel formed, sculpted, and chiselled over a span of 17 years.
'X plus Y: Navigating familial collapse in Miriam Toews’ A Complicated Kindness meets the stunning sense of place and blending of past and present in Jane Urquhart’s A Map of Glass.'
– Cherie Thiessen, BC BookWorld
'One of the novel’s successes is the character of Jenny. In managing her difficult family, in her anxiety to understand everyone’s viewpoint, sometimes to her own detriment, in her eventual courage in confronting her father—Jenny is fully realized, complex, and utterly believable.'
– Steve Noyes, The Malahat Review
Interviews about Worry Stones
The Caledonia Novel Award folk ask Joanna about her journey to publication for Worry Stones.
Joanna Lilley on how long it can take to write a novel
Guest blog on Gail Anderson-Dargatz's site
First Fiction Friday: Worry Stones
A story 17 years in the making
– Michael Dennis, Today's Book of Poetry
Interviews about If There Were Roads
Quattrain Questions – living and writing in the north
Interview by Turnstone Press
From Whitehorse to Muenster, poet shares love of writing at St Peter's
Interview by Becky Zimmer, Humboldt Journal
Longing for places: Joanna Lilley's new poetry collection explores the nostalgia of landscapes
All her roads lead to poetry
Interview by Elke Reinauer, What's Up Yukon
By Joanna Lilley, 49 Writers, Anchorage Press
Reviews of The Birthday Books
– John Mutford, The Book Mine Set
"Lilley is most effective with achieving a specific mood within her stories, the characters’ observations and emotional weight colouring the diverse landscapes she portrays, from Edinburgh to Whitehorse, remote Inuit communities to English gardens."
– Allison LaSorda, The Malahat Review
"Each story in this collection is sparely and carefully crafted, beautifully nuanced, yet the intelligence at work is of a higher order, one doubtlessly gained from extensive travel, insight into social circumstance and human nature, and empathy for the human condition. It is a collection resisting summary, the work of a poet equally at home in the short story form, a journey readers will be grateful to have taken."
– Justin Dittrick, SPG Book Reviews
"Lilley's short story collection is a book like no other. It touches readers and makes them fall in love with the north..."
– Elke Reinauer, What's Up Yukon
Interviews about The Birthday Books
Interview by Dave White, CBC North
Whitehorse writer explores the north's magnetic pull
Interview by Pierre Chauvin, Yukon News
“I’m reminded of Emily Dickinson’s semi-mystical, epigrammatic lyrics, but also Elizabeth Bishop’s pointillist portraiture—the exquisite image and restrained emotion."
– George Elliott Clarke, The Chronicle Herald
“In a quiet space called imagination, a magical trail of ink flows from Joanna Lilley’s words and seeps inside my head. It swirls and stirs like eddies in a remote stream and my admiration deepens for the lyrical work of this award-winning Yukon-based and UK-born poet.”
– Debbie Okun Hill, Kites Without Strings
“Lilley has a knack for distilling the intricacies of familial relationships to a single galvanizing image: 'Once the will was read / and the sweater wasn't in it / I knew it was my inheritance.'”
– Zachary Abram, Journal of Canadian Poetry – The Poetry Review
“In a voice that is at times happily off-kilter and nearly musical, the poems in Joanna Lilley’s The Fleece Era seek to solve the riddles of her present life in the Yukon and her past familial relationships...”
– Al Rempel, Arc Poetry Magazine
“The poems are both sardonic and comforting, resistant and motherly. Lilley writes about both individualism and dependency in an attempt to locate identity in society, in family, and in self that is both liberating and loving.”
– Contemporary Verse 2
“Her real gift is for last lines—in the James Wright tradition, she often moves from the lyrical into the meditative—a line or two at the end that lock each poem: 'If she throws all of her rocks into the ocean,/there might be enough for a bridge' (“The Collection”).”
– Emily Wall, Canadian Literature, A Quarterly of Criticism and Review
“Each event in The Fleece Era is hauntingly recognizable. To put it in her own words, the poems are are 'felt and seen rather than just merely thought.'”
– Contemporary Verse 2, Snapshots
“There are so many poems in The Fleece Era that could count toward my list of favourites that the challenge to relay them all in a single review would be overly daunting and not really feasible...”
– Andreas Gripp
“At times chilling in its honesty, The Fleece Era nevertheless embraces the complexities of human life with warmth and passion.”
– Adebe deRango-Adem, Quill and Quire
“The Fleece Era contains some beautiful poetry, but has a narrative ease to it that will appeal to readers who don’t usually read poetry. The writing is taut yet deep, brimming with energy and openness.”
– Literary Press Group of Canada
“Joanna Lilley’s The Fleece Era is the discovery of Brick Books’ spring season, a first poetry collection with a subtle, shifting vision of ecological and human connection.”
– Julian Gunn, The Coastal Spectator
“In her poem 'Neo-Colonialist', Joanna Lilley brushes aside her sensitivities and concerns and adopts a comical tone that is (self-)critical of tropes associated with historical and economical privilege, bringing about a marvelous effect, and this crafty poetic approach amid our obsession with everything North is to be found throughout her collection.”
– Garry Thomas Morse, Jacket2