New Publications:

Dorothy Sjöholm:
why the telephone stopped ringing

Susan Whelehan:
The Sky Laughs at Borders


Donna Langevin, a retired teacher and mother of three sons, wears a triple hat. Poet and playwright, co-author of four ESL books, she is a long-time resident of Toronto. Her latest poetry collections include The Laundress of Time, Aeolus House 2015, In the Café du Monde, Hidden Brook Press 2008 and two chapbooks with Lyricalmyrical Press. She won first prize in the TOPS Contest 2008 and also in the Cyclamens and Swords contest 2009. She was short-listed for the Descant 2010 Winston Collins prize and was awarded second prize in the GritLIT Poetry Competition 2014 and second prize in The Banister Anthology competition 2017.

Donna is also an accomplished playwright: The Man with a Butterfly Hat was produced at the Toronto Alumnae Theatre New Ideas Festival, 2012. Welcome to Nuit Blanche was produced at the Ryerson 50+ Festival, 2014. The Dinner, published by Morel magazine, won first prize for script in the one act play contest for the 2014 Eden Mills Writers’ Festival as did Bargains in the New World in 2015. If Socrates Were in My Shoes was produced at Alumnae Theatre NIF, 2018.

KUDOS for Through Painted Eyes

Donna Langevin’s stunning poetry collection is indeed “brimming”—with tenderness and insight, benediction and bereavement. Odes—to brother, lover, sons and self, as well as daredevils—span from Quebec cabins to Niagara Falls barrels, from hospital beds to chambers of the heart.
Langevin explores “miracle-making” in the lives of the “broken beautiful” in heart-stings, heart attack, heartache and the gritty “what ifs” and “tumour talk.”
Delicate and individual as snowflakes, yet in her courageous and unflinching voice, the lightness of Langevin’s poetry is like “helium” that “still pines for an impossible refuge.”

Kate Marshall Flaherty

Donna Langevin’s “BRIMMING” overflows with emotion for the vulnerable people she loves. This collection wells with longing for their survival like a prayer and celebrates their recoveries. Donna Langevin’s Catholic upbringing informs much of the collection; the poems are spiritual, often irreverent and defiant. The section “IN LIEU OF AN ODE” devoted to her brother who has struggled with heart problems is driven by joy like her whimsical poem “The Blue Sleigh” after a 1924 painting by Quebec artist Sarah Robertson. The Quebec settings in this section are vividly and beautifully described.
The collection moves from the personal into persona poems with a hilarious section about dare devils going over Niagara Falls in barrels, balls and kayaks, “TO STAY AFLOAT”. The risk taking persona of the collection’s narrator is evoked through these poems with a self-mocking tone.
The section “THE MAN WHO SLEPT BESIDE TORPEDOES” was inspired by a long time love and their journey through his cancer treatment and recovery. These poems swing from terror to tenderness and are not afraid to laugh. In “Waves”, from “THE THING IN THE MIRROR” about her “face plant” accident, she recalls “the first red breakers of pain” and getting to know her new face. In the poems devoted to her sons, Langevin continues her brimming. She swells with hope for her middle son after he has a heart attack in his forties and with longing as a mother who sought her own fulfilment over her middle son’s needs. The poem for her youngest son’s birthday sunflowers brims with gratitude and the poem for her eldest son about his memory of his grandfather folding a newspaper as carefully as origami celebrates newly discovered facets of her eldest son.
The poems about the poet’s own vulnerability in the final section, “THE STORIES THAT WRITE US”, do not flinch. The narrator defiantly regrets nothing like Edith Piaf’s “Sparrow”, yet longs for refuge in “A Year After Your Passing, Mom”. The narrator imagines her own passing as she recalls her grandmother’s story of the stork bringing new life in a knitted blanket in “An Old Yarn”.
This brave and beautiful collection does not turn away from suffering or mortality, but faces them with whimsy, playful language, original images and courageous honesty.

Kate Rogers

A-brim with wise tenderness, Donna Langevin’s prayers and hauntings proceed (In Lieu of an Ode) from a heart bridged by leg veins, over-the-falls (To Stay Afloat), embracing risk and immersing us in a nuclear sub romance. Often witty, always emotionally available, Duende is there too, constant as an intravenous feed, as Langevin deftly approaches themes of corporeal fragility and forbearance, in poems that write us — flesh out their plots in our bloodstreams and bones.
Tom Hamilton

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Valentino Assenza has been a published poet and spoken word artist for over two decades. He has published four chapbooks of poetry: Wandering Absence, Il Ritorno (Labour Of Love Productions), Quiet Confessions of a Loudmouth and Make Our Peace With Rattlesnakes (Lyricalmyrical Press). He has had numerous pieces of poetry published in anthologies such as Labour Of Love and Descant Magazine. He has read and performed his poetry throughout Canada and the U.S.A.

Valentino was a member of the Toronto Poetry Slam team in 2009 and 2010 and has performed his poetry at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and The National Poetry Slam. Valentino sat on the committees for the Art Bar Poetry Series and Toronto Poetry Project.

He currently lives in Toronto, and is the co-host and co-producer of Howl, a spoken word, literary radio show, Tuesday nights at 10pm on CIUT 89.5 FM.

KUDOS for Through Painted Eyes

No bluff, no puffery: Valentino Assenza brings it! His poetry is born alive, chanting authentic, operatic hymns–howlin prayers–with some bittersweet tangs and tones in the warp and woof, These verses guard and nurse an alien tongue–to better lash and whip the eardrums of those Canucks who like their Can Lit canned. Cos Assenza don’t consent to one-way assimilation! Discontented, he’s gotta do Al Purdy proud; he’s gotta make over Gord Downie; his Canadiana gotta come out Latinate–Italianate–as if Puccini is kicked back with an espresso on College Street (Toronto) or as if Dante be critiquing Fellini in a Bracebridge rec room. Through Painted Eyes gives us English “romanced” to seem a “romance language”– but piquant, and dulcet, peppery, with Negronis on tap and Hendrix on the hi-fi.

George Elliott Clarke
Toronto Poet Laureate (2012-15)
Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2016-17)

Through Painted Eyes is a beautiful collection. Through tender poetic snapshots and lush lyrical vignettes, Valentino Assenza takes us on a journey of memory that spans both generations and continents – where the old world of Sicilian shopkeepers merges with the modern, urban hustle of Toronto’s east end. Through Painted Eyes will help you remember how the wisdom of the past can heal us and move us forward. It will tickle your sense of nostalgia, ignite a desire to be drenched in tradition and culture, but most importantly, it will open your heart.

Andrea Thompson

Valentino Assenza writes like an angel performing open heart surgery with no anesthetic. It is raw and poignant and should come with a warning label for those who are afraid of the truth, frightened by love, and leave tears in their memories.

Norman Cristofoli

Through Painted Eyes
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All This Blood is the second full-length collection from Susie Berg. Her first book, How to Get Over Yourself (2013) was also published by Piquant Press.

Her work has appeared in such journals as carte blanche, ArsMedica, and Understorey, and in the anthologies Desperately Seeking Susans, The Mom Egg Review, and Body and Soul.

Her chapbooks include Awaiting Butterflies from words(on)pages press, and You Will Still Have Birds: A Conversation in Poetry with Elana Wolff, from Lyrical Myrical Press.

Susie Berg is also the former co-curator of Toronto’s Plasticine Poetry reading series.

All This Blood was launched at Hot-Sauced Words Poetry Performances in Toronto on February 21st, 2017.
The launch featured TRIBUTE READINGS by fellow poets:
Elana Wolff,
Lisa Richter,
Valentino Assenza,
Lisa Young,
Nicki Ward
and Kate Marshall Flaherty.

REVIEWS of ALL This Blood:

These centos, imitations, and found poems scavenge truths by lift-ing telling phrases overheard in cafes and bars, glimpsed on Face-book, or recalled from childhood and adult encounters. They are at turns heart-wrenching, painful, and humorous. From the poet Ellen Bass, Susie Berg has learned the art of the heart-twist and how to reveal underlying anxieties, the deeper currents in the blood that flow beneath our dailiness. Even as she resists easy conclusions — “I won’t untwist the bottle of memory / name all these shades of longing” — Berg delivers an unsettling yet cohe-sive collection. With calm assurance and vivid detail, these poems take on the moments when blood emerges into the light, blurring “the distance between true and / what we believe.”
Kateri Lanthier

Susie Berg’s All This Blood burns brilliantly with arresting senso-rial language and images steeped in life’s great unfolding and memorable moments. Berg’s well-crafted potent lines are salient, and reaffirm these diurnal instances ushering in the cogent under-standing recollection brings. All This Blood folds us into Berg’s cyclic experiences, and we instantly see and feel the dynamic wonder of common humanity on display. Her reminiscence is our retrospection, or as Berg says herself, “history is the reason / I lead you to the edge.”
Michael Fraser

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Bänoo Zan is a poet, translator, teacher, editor and poetry curator, with more than 120 published poems and poetry-related pieces as well as two books. Song of Phoenix: Life and Works of Sylvia Plath, was reprinted in Iran in 2008. Songs of Exile, her first poetry collection, was released in 2016 in Canada by Guernica Editions.

Letters to My Father is her second poetry book.

She is the founder of Shab-e She’r (Poetry Night), Toronto’s most diverse poetry reading and open mic series. It is a brave space that bridges the gap between communities of poets from different ethnicities, nationalities, religions (or lack thereof), ages, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, poetic styles, voices and visions.
Facebook & LinkedIn: Bänoo Zan
Twitter: @BanooZan


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2015 10 19 Amazing Secret Dreams FRONT
Piquant Press was approached in early 2015 by Brandon Pitts and Nik Beat’s sister, Teresa Longley, about the possibility of publishing Nik’s poetry collection: AMAZING SECRET DREAMS.
Brandon had been working on the collection with Nik at the time of Nik’s untimely death in the fall of 2014.
Nik had been an enthusiastic supporter of Piquant Press and had interviewed us, and our published poets, on his Howl Radio show, eight times.
Our answer was an enthusiastic YES!
It has been a labour of love and dedication working with Brandon as the editor to prepare Nik’s book for publication.
A special thanks to Sue Reynolds for designing the book cover.
And thanks to Jennifer Hosein for allowing us to photograph one of Nik’s iconic paintings for the front cover.

Nik Beat: Amazing Secret Dreams
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Susie Petersiel Berg is a writer and editor. She is the author of the chapbook Paper Cuts (2007), and of The Starbucks Poetry Project ( susieberg), an ongoing series of poems inspired by lines overheard at Starbucks. She has been published in journals such as carte blanche, Ars Medica, and Paragon, and in the anthologies Desperately Seeking Susans, Body and Soul, and Seek It: Writers and Artists Do Sleep
She is a graduate of the summer programs at The Humber College School of Writers (2004) and The St. FX Great Blue Heron Writers’ Workshop (2006, 2007). She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children, who all support her need to disappear into words every day.

How to Get Over Yourself
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The CartographersSkin cvr
Lara Bozabalian’s poetry and prose have been published in newspapers, journals and two literary anthologies. She has featured at reading series and universities around Ontario, including the Art Bar, Harbourfront’s Canadian Voices Slam, the Luminato ‘New Waves’ Festival, Queen’s University Slam, the Eden Mills Writers Festival and the Words Aloud Festival.
As a member of the Toronto Poetry Slam Team, Lara represented Toronto at the 2009 American National Poetry Slam and Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. She also competed at the Individual World Poetry Slam and at the Women of the World Poetry Slam.
As Head of English at a public high school, Lara founded and runs a spoken word festival for high school students across York Region, and is a founding member of Toronto Poetry Project, a collective dedicated to fostering social change and creative writing opportunities.

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For more information about this award winning poet, please visit:

The Patternmaker’s Crumpled Plan is no longer available online.
Barb Hunt can be contacted through her website:

Where we are going cvr w2

From the Foreword to where we are going
I admire Kate Marshall Flaherty for several reasons: her generous spirit, quick wit, infectious good humour and remarkable poetry. But as I worked on this project and each poem percolated into my soul, I found myself on a journey that was often heartbreaking. The long sorrowful death of her best friend to cancer and the strong spiritual framework that helped sustain Kate are important aspects of this book. When she was diagnosed with M.S., this journey took another painful twist. I was awed by the honesty in Kate’s writing but even more, I found myself curious about the origin of her stamina and good nature. In the poems I found a large, close family with a strong tradition and a young girl weaned on the essential characteristics that would carry her so well in her adult life. I also found a profound loneliness.
Yet Kate has never travelled alone. The voices of the strong women she celebrates in these poems speak as true as morning bells. The echoes of family reverberate like chimes suspended from a tree in a homestead yard.
Each poem in her journey is a courageous jumping off, a skilled diving in and a determined wading ashore, and at last, a resting place in bright light and clear air. It is refreshing to know that where we are going is a place Kate Marshall Flaherty knows well and is generous in sharing. That’s Kate for you.
James Dewar

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