departures by Dennis Cooley



The body betrays.

Recovering in hospital after a burst appendix, plagued by hallucinations and poisonous mistrust, Dennis Cooley retreats to memories of ancestors and of his rural Saskatchewan roots, in departures, his 20th book of poetry.


The moon migrates, seasons cycle, and the body ebbs and flows. Drawing together the skeins of existence and his family's nearness, Cooley joyously intermingles poetry and science. In the end, faced with his own mortality, Cooley fights back with great, big clods of earthy humour and humility.

Short-listed for the 2017 Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher

Short-listed for the 2017 Lansdowne Prize Poetry

Advanced Praise

With departures Dennis Cooley coils and uncoils the language of our bodies, the subtle string of cells and letters which bind us to each other and to language. The writing of grief is never simple, never clear—it is a tangled ball of ribbon, sound, and story. Here Cooley unwinds and unweaves, reknits and retangles but is never at a loss for words

Derek Baulieu, Calgary Poet Laureate

In departures Dennis Cooley wants to drive you home, but the car is dead, dead like the hospital food and the routines we normally accept when faced with mortal illness. Cooley stays alive in his music, the singer, the jester, the dancer in broken lines—he rejects the routine, finds the right found words, and sloughs off the dead language, dead itself.

Maurice Mierau, author of Autobiographical Fictions

What a delight to discover new work from Canada's preeminent literary trickster, Dennis Cooley. This gorgeous new book is a document of loss and leaving. But make no mistake, there is mind-bending wordplay and genre-defying experimentation in these pages too. Feelings, figures, and fonts collide in departures, Cooley's best work in a long while.

Jon Paul Fiorentino


Cooley handles weighty issues with a light touch, making it look easy and fun even as he considers "cat as trophes / cast as tropes / the disasters of / our lives so little / consequence to the stars."

Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press

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