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The Wild Lily Institute

Article: Turning Into Stone

December 16, 2017      Press article for Hallmark

Canadian author Emily Isaacson is releasing her 11th book of poetry titled Hallmark: Canada’s 150 Year Anniversary. She shares her verse of growing up on Vancouver Island, and once wrote in a tree. She was first published at age thirteen for her poem, "The Wild Madonna." She has now published many treasured books of poetry, as well as a novel and a children's book. She was studied last year by McMaster University as one of Canada's authors.

This commemorative edition by Dove Publishers showcases the select poetry of the Canadian poet, from her simple pieces to the epic. Seamlessly blending old and new poems, it includes 130 new poems, with over thirty new sonnets from her secret stash. A modestly secretive person, Isaacson had over a hundred poems piled under the bed. Isaacson refers in her poetry to living in Dogwood Manor, a reference to British Columbia. The Headley Homestead is her place of residence at the foot of Bear Mountain in Mission, named for her family name. Her poetry tells how she informs the trees with words. Her mantra might as well be, “Inform the world.”

Isaacson has added an iconic influence to an old art with her chapter headings depicting interior design concepts. She is both glamorous and reticent. This work surrounds the guillotine of the recession that has influenced Canadians over the past decade. There was much of her experience to draw from, ranging from her childhood with eggs scrambled in bacon grease to the current decade where she might find herself forced to take odd jobs to make ends meet. She describes her ambivalence over this in Section VI: Dancing in the Dark where she is an artist who is forced to take another job.

Isaacson’s readers to this point will appreciate her nuances, wording, and poetic structure, including her own invention “the eclipsed poem.” She modifies the found poem, until it becomes an eclipse of the author and the original material. As these two intersect, she crafts an epiphany moment. We are rarely left unmoved.

Isaacson has lived in general anonymity until now, yet her dedicated voice over the last decade of writings has become something of a Canadian staple to her many online readers. She has spoken in poetry to royals, cloisters, people groups, and nations. She keeps a correspondence with the Royal family, as well as with the eleven Stó:lō nations locally. Her letters and cards to and from Prince William will be archived early next year by Mission Library Archives in the town where she lives.

Isaacson’s poignancy and lyricism stir our hearts this Christmas. She traverses a range from poverty and scarcity to the ornamental. Isaacson tells of us leaving the medieval superstition we have of the internet to enter the Baroque era. She writes, “This is the Baroque period/if we have our own opinions/on corsages, buns, and bobby pins/and how it should be done with grace./We are married again,/the reverence sounded,/we are irregular jewels.” (This Is Where You Keep Me, p.24, Hallmark.)

She noted a superstition associated with the internet early on in her career; yet she was determined to use the web as an art form. From her early medieval blog called Solitary Unicorn to this year celebrating one million visits to her websites, Isaacson’s prolific verse and multi-media art spark poetry with life. She shares with us her themes of the sea, healing, forgiveness, and reparation including poems on colonization and the First Nations People. Her multi-media art includes 50 videos of her poetry, as well as blogs, and websites.

Isaacson sets out to make a postmodern impact using color and style. Her use of postmodern devices such as pastiche demonstrate her use of eclecticism in art. It allows her to imitate while celebrating the work of other writers, such as Edna St. Vincent Millay. She discards the modern poet and returns to classical form; she speaks of figs growing from briers, and has familiar titles to the genius of Millay in the early 1920’s. She also writes rhyming sonnets, as Millay did. Her use of ballad in “Last Words From A Weaver’s Basket” is a timely returning to Millay’s era and Millay’s soft-spoken “The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver”.

Isaacson has a way of answering the art of others in a conversational way. She volunteers at local gallery museum, The Reach. She immerses herself in the finer notes of modern art, and from it draws postmodernism—re-drawing the lines and re-aligning the stars. She is water to the discerning art-goer; she will stay, pointing her finger like a stone statue. She taps the creativity necessary for survival with a wisdom depicting her age. Isaacson is over forty now, and her maturity as a person has settled nicely in her work.

Read more about Hallmark on the book site, including view the book trailer at