#TPQ5: CATHERINE GRAHAM

The Stone Angel – Margaret Laurence

I read this novel in high school because I had to for English class. It ended up teaching me a lifelong lesson: the power of empathy. Having access to Hagar Shipley’s inner life, seeing the complexity there, the vulnerability behind that tough demeanor, gave me a new perspective on my cold-eyed grandmother. Perhaps she too withheld her softer side from others as a route to survival.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain

Reading this book was like coming home and finding complete acceptance there. It inspired me to write: “I side with my inside voice and peer through my own forever.”

We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson

Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood’s voice caught, kept and captivated me. I’m still under her spell.

The Complete Poems 1927-1979 – Elizabeth Bishop

I came to Bishop many years ago through the villanelle “One Art”. It remains one of my all-time favourite poems. “Sestina” is a masterpiece of understatement. I also talk about Bishop here: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thenextchapter/why-catherine-graham-loves-the-poetry-of-elizabeth-bishop-1.5118641

The Penguin Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry – edited by Peter Fallon and Derek Mahon

Soon after I received an acceptance letter to attend graduate school in Northern Ireland, I bought this anthology in Toronto at the now long-closed Irish Shop. Its pages were filled with work by poets whose workshops and readings I soon would be attending.


Catherine Graham is an award-winning Toronto-based writer. Her sixth poetry collection, The Celery Forest, was named a CBC Best Book of the Year, appears on the CBC Books Ultimate Canadian Poetry List and was a finalist for the Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry. Her debut novel Quarry won an Independent Publisher Book Awards gold medal for fiction, “The Very Best!” Book Awards for Best Fiction and was a finalist for the Sarton Women’s Book Award for Contemporary Fiction and the Fred Kerner Book Award. She teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto where she won an Excellence in Teaching Award and is a previous winner of the Toronto International Festival of Authors’ Poetry NOW competition. Æther: an out-of-body lyric will be published fall, 2020 with Wolsak and Wynn. Visit her at www.catherinegraham.com Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @catgrahampoet

Leave a Reply