Julia McCarthy

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November 28, 2017
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June 28, 2011
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Return from Erebus
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Featured Reader
June 28, 2011

Julia McCarthy

Goran Simić called McCarthy’s 3rd collection "a book of meditations for even those immune to poetry"
Julia McCarthy is originally from Toronto, ON. She spent a decade living in the U.S., most notably in Alaska and Georgia. She also lived in Norway and spent significant time in South Africa before returning to Canada and settling in rural Nova Scotia where she worked as a potter to support her poetry habit. She is the author of two previous poetry collections: Stormthrower, and Return from Erebus (Brick Books, London, ON 2010) the latter of which received the Canadian Authors Association Poetry Award. All the Names Between (Brick Books, 2017) is her third collection.

From Julia McCarthy

Out of the Blue

(for Gwendolyn MacEwen)

It's the fastest colour-

driven out of nowhere    no body of its own

to rein it in

it's large and ancient    the colour both touched

and sound-overflowing everything into which

it just can't fit    it's a gush-

rushing from the root of thing to thing

it's not the colour of coming or going

these are plain and slow as yellow

it's the clonic colour of the whelm

bearing more dimension than air    its hair

is static    a shocking blur    it's the highest temperature

reached in a blink-exhausting-the tinted atmosphere


it transfixes with its cobalt stare    slapping into you

again and again    an ocean to a stone    a currency submerged

it's the bully sharpening itself    a bolt

of metal reaming its tinny charge    its molten mutiny

cooling into a stick still lit with the scent of fear


it's the colour that can't find its way home

the lost one    its way forgotten

it's a streak    the colour with no clothes

a failed invisibility collapsing into being-

a bruised prostration    a simple vigilance


I want to take it in my lap    stroke the static from its hair

and ground it in a body of croons

I want to pat its fiery hands down and bandage up

its burnt feet    and tell it    no matter what    no matter when

my door is always open.


Poem In White

Half-bred from absence    fathered by silence

it's the colour of paradox    it rejects

the weight of the world    the burden of matter

it's the omission

of substance    it is and isn't

at exactly the same moment    it bears

its loss well having never known

anything else


white is the colour of laughter

held back    of desire waiting

the cup's regret when drained

it's the first colour    the primary wound

blindfolded    it's the bowl of ashes

you pray over    it flies

into fury    oblivious    its heat is absolute


its memory is porcelain    it dreams albino

it's the colour of a promise

before it's broken    the size and shape of

a child's coffin    a child who never existed

a funeral never performed

white is formless and void

fragile    without edges    persistent

as chaos and full of light

if you touch it you'll know absence

so profound you won't feel a thing


white turns its blind eye to the leaves

eloping with grass for winter    it's deaf

to the canticle of crows flying over

and utterly mute

to the autism of the stone

mistaking snow for its own infinite mind.