The Bright Well

Leaf Press, 2011

The Bright Well: Contemporary Canadian Poems About Facing Cancer
Edited by Fiona Tinwei Lam
Contributors: Marianne Bluger, Lorna Crozier, Susan Downe, Glen Downie, Sandra Dunn, Susan Elmslie, Michael Harris, Maureen Hynes, Luciano Iacobelli, Lois Lorimer, Joanne Page, Elise Partridge, Miranda Pearson, Rachel Rose, Mari-Lou Rowley, Anne Simpson, Richard Sommer, Betsy Struthers, Betsy Warland, and Sue Wheeler

This slim anthology contains accessible yet powerful poems written by both established and emerging poets from across the country, written from the point of view of someone facing cancer. Covering diagnosis, surgery, treatment, and recovery, the collection aims to give readers a sense of the profound physical and psychological journey experienced by those who face cancer.

MICHELE LANDSBERG: “The intensity of living through and perhaps surviving cancer and its treatments is so extreme – the dread, the streaming inner narrative, the moments of giddy joy at being still alive – is superbly captured by poetry. Here, in astonishing images and lucid shards of insight, Canada’s poets share the most intimate experiences of the disease we all fear. They give us words and pictures with which to snare the demon fear and celebrate the return of life. Reading these poems is to remember, recognize and ruefully greet those physical details and human frailties we cancer survivors share. It’s a strange relief, a remembrance, the release of tears and the return of rejoicing.”       

GABOR MATÉ M.D.: “More than a disease, cancer is a life event. The raw authenticity, visceral force and sheer beauty of the writing in this volume invite and compel us all to share that experience. The poets collected here lay bare their bodies and their souls, and such is their alchemy that their fear becomes our fear – just as their suffering, courage and triumph express our own.”

MOLLY PEACOCK: “When you wake up in the middle of the night and want an authentic voice in your ear, go to The Bright Well. What do we seek poetry for, if not to address our deepest lives, loves, and fears? The Bright Well, a slender book about the huge subject of cancer, responds with gusto, tenderness, trepidation, and the clear water of metaphor. These wonderful poems, subtle and thoughtful, have the advantage of paying a high price for their wisdom. Every page quenches our thirst for true feeling and real understanding.”