Jeremy Stewart’s third book, In Singing, He Composed a Song, is a formally experimental novella that tells the story of a high school student assaulted by the police and committed to the psychiatric ward (2021, University of Calgary Press, Brave & Brilliant series). It was shortlisted for the 2022 ReLit Award.
Stewart won the 2014 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry for Hidden City (Invisible Publishing). He is also the author of (flood basement (Caitlin Press 2009). His writing has appeared in Canadian Literature, Geist, Lemon Hound, Geez, and Open Letter, among other places.
In Singing, He Composed a Song
Raw and challenging, In Singing, He Composed a Song is a powerful experimental novella that scavenges institutional language to tell the story of self and find the lyric within the noise.
John is the teenage terror of his northern industrial town. With his friends, James and Simon, he is a disciple of depression and ennui. His world is a haze of smoke and heavy metal, anchored by poverty. Every day he steps closer to the edge. When an altercation at school leads to a bad encounter with the police and involuntary commitment to a psychiatric ward, John finds himself alone in the hospital Quiet Room with time to think, to reflect on who he is, how he got here, and how to move forward—whether he wants to or not.
John is a successful musician. Music is his passion, his solace, and the place he belongs. Looking for the lyric in the noise, he sifts through his life, through layers of experience overlapping like chords. He searches for himself in his psychiatric records, in the voices of his friends, his teachers, the cops, his doctors, and in his own memories. Rearranging the layers into some sort of music, he tries to find a true account of himself.
In Singing, He Composed a Song is a masterful experimental novella that blends poetry and fiction, past and future, word and image, to radically question how language and authority intertwine to shape the ways we view ourselves. It finds the music—however dissonant—that can’t be held behind steel doors or hidden in the pages of your file. (University of Calgary Press)
Praise for In Singing, He Composed a Song:
“Should you read this book you will read that “the sky is never empty, it is always full of sky.” And this is a book that is itself full of sky, of that which is never empty—like the air, radio, song, & what they call madness. It is good, very good, to read such a sky-book.”
— John Schad, Professor of Modern Literature, Lancaster University
“Beautiful and stark, Jeremy Stewart explores the cruelty of institution, the kindness of gesture, and the threadbare armour of memory. His conflicted and conflicting voices come together in a drop D chorus that is heavy, dissonant, and true.”
— Greg Rhyno, author of To Me You Seem Giant
“Jeremy Stewart’s In Singing, He Composed a Song dares to bring the unspeakable to the page through psychiatric records, photographs, and transcripts to craft a genre-breaking docu-poetic response to friendship, suicide, and masculinity.”
— Shazia Hafiz Ramji, author of Port of Being
“In Atomineral Explorations, Jeremy Stewart paces Robert Smithson’s non-site, impatiently hoping for language to admit its limits. Stewart slides cagily between social textures, halting delivery of transparent representation to its extraction point. He takes careful note of the asymptotic desire to make the real creek creeky, to metaphorically and materially clear-cut old growth, and to uncrumple and enclose even the most inaccessible folds. Stewart’s poetic attentiveness is one that guts itself, rather than cast the reel.” – Ryan Fitzpatrick
2014 Robert Kroetsch Award For Innovative Poetry Winner!
How does a place get in your bones? How do you become the bones of a place? Hidden City unearths memories that don’t want to be found.
A poem cycle that speaks through disembodied voices—the parts of ourselves we don’t want to acknowledge, but which refuse to be silenced—Hidden City’s post-lyric form opens a secret door to the experience of nostalgia for a traumatic past. (Invisible Publishing)
“With a near-perfect blend of the concrete and the ‘poetic’, Jeremy Stewart sets himself apart from the Canadian poetry pack. Though he’s just as comfortable with the natural and the ethereal, almost no one writes ‘city’ as well as he does. Narratives of city appeal to me like mad, and he has found his way into this realm with innovation, heart, and craft.”
Jeremy Stewart’s first book, (flood basement, is a young poet’s search for and discovery of his place in the local landscape. The poet is haunted by the legacy of colonialism and propelled by the struggles of a community seeking its own identity. (flood basement is the raw, shocking and innocent journey of an emerging artist in a seemingly inflexible world. In this collection Stewart shares a collage of fragments that amount to a portrait of the Prince George of his youth, a transcription of a midnight audio journey, and an introspection of the fluctuating and sometimes fragile identity of the writer. Stewart’s work pushes the boundaries of innovative and experimental poetry while weaving a visual narrative of the world in which he lives. (Purchase from Caitlin Press)