Karen Solie (Poetics Case Study)

Karen Solie is a Saskatchewan-born (1966) poet with education from the University of Lethbridge and the University of Victoria.


Pigeon was originally published in 2009 by House of Anansi and won the Griffin Poetyr Prize in 2010.  The book also took a Pat Lowther Award and a Trillium Book Award.  As a collection, the poems are intelligent and grounded.  There is a refreshing coherence to the imagery.  Solie provides the reader with room, and Image result for karen solie, pigeonmotivation, to think.  Solie’s Pigeon speaks without echoing itself.  And that’s a terrific thing.

Noteable poems:

  • The Girls
  • Bone Creek
  • Park Place
  • Prayers for the Sick
  • Pigeon

Short Haul Engine

Short Haul Engine was published in 2001 by Brick Books.  Short Haul Engine offers up the opportunity to hear a kind of Canadian voice that often seems to be drowned out in the buzzing self-importance of the big cities.  This collection offers the kind of alternative that Faulkner offered.  It is a different kind of knowledge.

Sprinkled throughout the book are brilliant opening lines “Moments ago we were giggling” that immediately draw the reader in; there are brutal realities, characters and situations; there are lovely summaries “Even when I cry for you it sounds like singing” and there are unique images ” Ancient grunt of sea in a warm prairie river”.

Noteable poems:

  • Signs Taken for Wonders
  • Boyfriend’s Car
  • Days Inn
  • Drift
  • Toad
  • Sturgeon

Other Titles

Other collections by Karen Solie (and not yet investigated) include:

  • The Road In Is Not The Same Road Out (2015)
  • The Living Option (2013)
  • Modern and Normal (2005)
  • The Shooter’s Bible (2004)

Karen Solie on Goodreads

In keeping with the theme of coordinating open- with subjective single-author sources. Goodreads reader ratings and reviews are cited as an indication of reader impressions.

Pigeon earned 4.1 of five stars on 112 ratings and 14 reviews.

As of July 12, 2018 Short Haul Engine had earned an average 4.22 of five stars on 89 ratings.  The book had earned eight reader reviews with one reviewer arguing that it is

Gritty, driving work. The poems are short and accessible, close to the poet’s own experience. These are small town poems, but the small towns are those with roadhouses, tough bars, cold terrain, and volatile, troubled lives. (David Moolten, Dec 22, 2009)

The Road In Is Not The Same Road Out (2015) earned 4.05 stars on 82 ratings and 9 reviews.

The Living Option (2013) earned 4.3 stars on 23 ratings and 1 review.

Modern and Normal (2005) earned 3.71 stars on 149 ratings and 10 reviews.

The Shooter’s Bible (2004) earned 4.67 stars on 3 ratings and 1 review.

Thoughts on Poetics, Having Read Solie

  1. Sometimes, as in the case of Short Haul Engine and Pigeon, a poet presents work which acts simultaneously as a rebuke for one’ own lazy efforts and as an encouragement to strive for better.  Canadian poetry is capable of producing poets worth emulating.
  2. Many poets seem to be so interested in performing, indoctrinating and startling their readers that they’ve forgotten to leave their readers room to read and engage.  Solie leaves the reader room.
  3. Solie does something important in her poetry.  She provides highly particular truths that from which shared generalized truths may be discovered.  This inherently inductive presentation strikes me as contrary to much that is wrong in poetry as I’ve been observing it for a very long time.  As I’ve already suggested, this is poetry to be studied and imitated.
  4. There is much poetry that is worth reading once; there is much less worth reading several times; rarely is there poetry worth studying.  Short Haul Engine and Pigeon offers poetry worth studying.
  5. Some poetry is superficially active and generates a superficial thrill to a reader.  Perhaps a new word or a flurry of unexpected images.  Other poetry appears less active on the surface but sits in its own meanings.

See Also

References and Citations

  1. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/karen-solie
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Solie
  3. https://houseofanansi.com/products/pigeon
  4. https://quillandquire.com/review/pigeon/
  5. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/pigeon-by-karen-solie/article4293507/
  6. http://www.griffinpoetryprize.com/awards-and-poets/shortlists/2010-shortlist/karen-solie/
  7. http://poets.ca/lowther/
  8. http://www.omdc.on.ca/Book/Trillium_Book_Award/Trillium_Book_Award_Winners.htm?
  9. https://www.brickbooks.ca/books/short-haul-engine/

Article History

All content on www.ericadriaans.com, the Erickipedia, is updated and revised based on new information, further consideration, reader feedback and whim. To recommend updates, provide feedback or comment please use the contact and feedback form.

  1. Original draft October 5, 2017
  2. Updated January 22, 2018
  3. Update July 12, 2018




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