"The lyrics populating Ottawa poet Pearl Pirie's new collection, the pet radish, shrunken, buzz with oblique wisdom and surgically sharp wit.[...] the sonnets, tercets and dialogue poems of this new collection strike powerful and deliberate chords even while they frolic and surprise. ”
"the pet radish, shrunken explores and dissects sound, form, and linguistic play, frustrating what Pirie calls embedded sense – the deeper meanings we ascribe to words, and by extension, the world. In “the body, its calendar” she writes, “wouldn’t we all fly up if not clasped? / you & I talk of saturn. I say weight. / you reply, mass, mass, but all I hear / is the trinity. dust, our size, not our origin.” Worlds collide in this single stanza: creationism is pitted against not only evolution, but existentialism.[...] Many of these poems aren’t pretty in a lyrical sense, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because they please the mind in another way. "
"She'll slip a hard edge into the most carefree poems to knock you out while other lines evoke giggles[...] a radiant union of contemporary situations and classic themes."
—Kalina Lafromboise on radish in Maissonneuve, Spring 2015
(print or subscription/behind a paywall: http://maisonneuve.org/issue/spring2015/)
"Pirie's poetry reminds me of early Atwood. Witty and biting at the same time. I haven't read poetry that I have enjoyed like that for a long time."
—Anne Boys-Hope on the pet radish, shrunken
"She’s the opposite of boring!”
—9-year-old neighbour on the pet radish, shrunken
"Precise riots of vowels and consonants rattle these poems. Pearl Pirie's lines burn with sonic-rich images. Her verbal verve is rooted in an ecstatic attentiveness to language, both found and formal. Moving from sonnets to dialogue poems to tercets, these poems shelter surreal and uncanny imagery. Charged with innovative and lyrical energies, the pet radish, shrunken is a gorgeous rebellion."
— Eduardo C. Corral on the pet radish, shrunken
"[S]he manages to articulate a series of confusions and sparks, none of which could have been articulated in any other way. These are poems learning how to explore simply by exploring. She has become a poet worth watching, which is always a rare and enviable position."
"In Pearl Pirie's poems, language ferments, foments a "vinegar vigour." Flipping the labels off contemporary mores, cooking with sound, she offers quick food for thought. Keep up with her if you can."
—Daphne Marlatt on the pet radish, shrunken
"I read the book through three times[...] I very much enjoyed it. I laughed out loud on multiple occasions which is no small feat for a book of poetry! It was delightful. The poems collected in
the pet radish, shrunken
invite us equally into routine and catastrophic events. The delights of each new moment is tied with those memories that so casually insist on a place in a present. With humour, play, and brass, Pirie revels in the daily raucous of domesticity, verbatim conversations, and the language that must somehow hold a whole existence."
— Jenny Samparisi on the pet radish, shrunken
"These interesting and articulate poems seem to come from a very deep well. […] Her dry humour just races around inside these poems […] Pirie's mature poems are Brautiganian whip-smart and as precise as pinched purpose. […] full of wisdom and a little piss and vinegar. Someone confident enough to let loose with those assuring assessments, clinical appraisals and whimsical amusements."
"the pet radish, shrunken (March), the third full collection of poetry from Pearl Pirie, deals in the poetics of sound, language, and play."
"Pearl Pirie and Kateri Lanthier both use a flitting, ghazal-like strategy to deflect the full force of their affections for their respective “yous” in their witty, conversational rambles."
—Sonnet L'Abbé in Best Canadian Poetry in English 2014
"This very small chapbook came in the mail yesterday along with several other subscription items from rob mclennan’s also small but many-windowed publishing emporium. Once past the cryptic title, this one is more than worth the price of subscription.
Goldy cannot get out of the woods in this skillfully and amusingly critical parable -- because those woods were darker and more complicated even back in 1918 than we readers first noted. Dark and complicated woods, which in Pirie's interrogative narrative become fresh woods too."
"Pearl Pirie's words live on in the mind long after you've read them. She is an exceptional writer, one who creates a fierce impact on the reader, an impact that lets them know they are in the presence of a wild and beautiful imagination. Her poems are complex and playful, demanding and worthwhile, endowed with wisdom and wonder equally.."
"The poems were obviously crafted with care and attention to language, but manipulation of spelling and syntax purely for its own sake did not prove rewarding for me, similar to Nichol's experimentation in the same way."
— Philip on Thirsts on Amazon Review
"Part of the appeal of following Pirie’s work over the past few years has always been in not entirely knowing where her work might go next, shifting between narrative forms into more traditional engagements with haiku as well as more experimental forms of language and visual poetry, playing constantly with different shapes and possible sounds. [...] [T]hrough her curiosity, her work manages to accomplish a series of unexpected moments and startling, even jarring, images."
"My epiphany— that Vertigoheel for the Dilly is a personal essay, touching on interests and frustrations that percolate through her social media outlets—barely skims the surface of this little chapbook’s big ambitions. "
"Stylistically been shed bore offers a plethora of choices and the unendingly exuberant imagination of Pirie who comfortably stakes out her space as she explores a wide range of poetic forms [...] What I have been clumsily trying to express is my admiration for those poems I loved in this collection, and there were many. But equally, my awe at Pearl Pirie's comfortable range, this book is so much thicker than it appears. "
"It’s only fitting that one of the city’s literary forebears was a poet, as Ottawa has been called “the poetry capital of Canada. For a city of its size it boasts an impressive number and variety of poets, readings and publications [...] An incomplete list of some other writers with Ottawa connections[...] Henry Biessel, Dorothy Speak, Monty Reid, Blaine Marchand, First Nations writer and publisher Katerie Akiwenzie-Damm, Christopher Levenson, Daniel Poliquin, Moira Farr, Amanda Earl, slam poet Oni the Haitian Sensation, jwcurry (called “the best concrete and visual poet in Canada”), Pearl Pirie, Christine McNair, Max Middle, *John Barton, Terry Fallis[...]"
— Andrea Martucci, Jan 2013 in Ploughshares, Literary Boroughs
"One of the best collections of workshop poems I've ever come across, and nicely assembled and produced. "
—Barbara Myers on'a wall's sharp white' edited by Pearl Pirie
"Part of what makes Pirie’s writing so compelling is her adherence to sound, and one that doesn’t go over meaning but tears through and twists."
: Dusie: Top Eleven (Canadian) Poetry Books of 2011:
Phil Hall, Gregory Betts Moribund Facekvetch, Pearl Pirie, Stan Rogal, Sachiko Murakami,
Stephanie Bolster, Gil McElroy, Sandra Ridley, Emily Carr, Meredith Quartermain & Mike Blouin.
"Ottawa is the poetry capital of Canada,” says Phil Jenkins—himself an Ottawa poet. He has a point. Pearl Pirie is becoming a Canadian household name."
"She’s quirky, humorous, compassionate, clear-seeing, and she always finds the most interesting conjunctions of words to convey an essence."
— Rosemary-Nissen-Wade: SnakyPoet
"singular lines (or random acts of poetry) from a bevy of poetry collections you can try to get your hands on this month.[...] 'I love conflict like sand in a thong' from “what to do with her heat?” in the collection “been shed bore” by Pearl Pirie, Chaudiere, 2010"
— Desiree Ossandon:
Canada Arts Connect
"works of observation and images riffing, set on a train. The theme means there is an entraining structure (the trip, the people),and there is a desire for stylisitic surprise (Pearl andthe need for anti-sense)...and some memory pieces.The result is a lot of tasty re-examinationsof things you know. [...] packed with some very complex tropes and ricochets somewhat like post-av, but inside I
found some highly refined linguistic acrobatics, riffing, and lang-flirt as in 'just kiss me then':
... a tangle, a lip of the tongue, / some flaw in the ointment / the flu in the augment? more/less / the
fly in the argyleness, / the flay in the target"
— Jim Knowles on Between Stations: Ribbons of Intonations
"a heart-work with a sharp and attentive assessing of the socio-cultural. Hers is an exactitude of emotions,
complicated and questioning—a taut balance of tension and joy, abandon and restraint."
— Sandra Ridley on been shed bore
: Advent Book Blog
"the book’s final section is its strongest, a 16-sonnet sequence featuring a handful of characters where
the final line of one poem begins the first line of the next. The topics are common: marital counselling,
fidelity (or lack thereof) and perceptions within the family unit. The language, however, is intimate and
reliable: 'Y’know dad, I’ve seen your browser history.' As the sonnets pass on their final lines like a
relay baton, the positions of perceiver and perceived also change hands and produce titles like 'Kaylen
of Joe and Janey,' 'Janey’s Joe' and 'Janey of Gil.' With a consistent and original tone, a clear focus
and a strong narrative, Pirie’s sonnet sequence establishes that sweet, sweet internal logic that also
flows through Nichol’s 'strawberries.'"
— Bardia Sinaee on been shed bore
: In/Words, issue 10.1 , Dec 2010
"... been shed bore is packed densely with poetry, with sound gymnastics, brilliant wordplay, with stories,
recurring themes such as the difficulty of communicating, loneliness, and awkwardness caused by dealing
with prejudice and societal convention. There is tenderness here, eroticism, joy of language and life,
sadness and compassion. It’s a book to pick up again and again and find something different
to ponder and to enjoy."
"Her new book, been shed bore, has a beautiful website. Her work reflects what I said above about her blog:
it is infused with compassion, curiosity, discovery, and inquiry, to which I should add play and a great
ear for the musical possibilities of language."
"Love of lightness[...] It plays with you, its strongest poems coming on gusts of words that sort of travel
allusively around each other [...] she gravitates towards the looseness and joy of play with words, where she
— Jeremy Mesiano-Crookston: Ottawa XPress review
"Pirie’s poetry will be of interest to anyone who enjoys good wordplay, linguistic gymnastics, humour and surprising
twists and turns."
"What do the most interesting poems provide? Often as many questions as there are certainties, and Pirie alternates,
able to turn even her questions in on themselves. These are poems learning how to explore simply by exploring. Oh,
and the places she goes."
— Globe and Mail: In
"Well-centred and smoothly flowing, this humanistic poem impresses with its tone of considerate affection. Deftly symbolic [...] clear natural diction, notable for its sharpness and economy."
— Tony Cosier in his judges notes on "Making Connections" which received third place in the the Ray Burrell Award for Poetry, 2005.