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14x21 cm, 48 pages, 250 gsm Green Strata card cover, black endpapers, hand sewn with green twist.  

Colour illustration by Allen Fisher.

ISBN 1 903090 42 3  


Click here to read interviews with Lissa Wolsak.

Click here to read reviews of Pen Chants. (Roof Books.)

Click here to read comments on Lissa Wolsak's work.

Click here to read An Heuristic Prolusion.

Click here for a biographical note and extracts from A Defence of Being.

Ordering Information


Biographical Note.

Lissa Wolsak lives in Vancouver, British Columbia where she works as an energy/thought-field therapist as well as a goldsmith. She is the author of several long poem sequences and essays.
SQUEEZED LIGHT: Collected Works is forthcoming from Station Hill Press/Barrytown in September, 2005.


Click here to read Kent Johnson's interview with Lissa Wolsak inVeRT  poetry magazine.

Click here to read Tom Beckett's interview with Lissa in The Alterran Poetry Assemblage.



Click here to read Henry Gould's review of Pen Chants  on the ReadMe site

Click here to read Jen Hofer's review of Pen Chants in Rain Taxi.



If I were to argue at this late date of post-culture the view that "poets are born, not made", Lissa Wolsak would be my preferred instance, along with, say, Emily Dickinson or HD - poets through and through, for whom poetry is not so much choice as life-sustaining access to its own intelligible current. Such poets are often outsiders in the sense that their work by its nature is without precedent. That her extraordinary ear for actual speech nuance (however idiolectual) bespeaks the values of a living poetics in the historical context of unconsciously suicidal public discourse; its freshness and always surprising invention of her own revelatory process has no near neighbors. And if she calls a new thinking into play, it is so utterly without dogma and so sensitive to the free movement of mind that its humanness and compassionate nature stand forward. Therein lies her actual politics, alive in the action of what she calls "co-mercy". A hard act to co-opt.

George Quasha

...............I cannot so much as read a few phrases of Lissa Wolsak's poetry, than I am at it ~~ thinking poetics, writing poetics, declaiming a nature of poetry I hazard to aver that I perceive there. No sooner have I worked what seems the sense of one of her remarkably suggestive phrases, than the event shifts under my cognitive gaze. It did mean thus and so ~~ but having said that, another significance rises into view, another sense of the phrase's en-nested-ness in phrases gone before, another set of significant relations. There is a movement here of a most significant sort, that will not lend itself to precise determination, if only (but not only) because it is each determination that sets the thing in motion. There is a posited constancy, a rumor of a vast and happy sphere in the intuition of which and in the happiness of one's orientation toward which, integration of contingency and optimization towards harmonic opulence might thrive. Some texts or images exude the rumor of it. Some persons in their presence, the character of their attention, the modulations of their energy, also, make it seem ~~ make that which cannot come to appearance, nevertheless come to seem.

Charles Stein

Extracts from A Defence of Being



 On the flat...


a detailed insignificance, a


handful of flies a


young woman running while


attempting to pull an arrow out of her back,


another blow to seniors,


those who funnel through the bitter oracle a




thinktanks refuse to set the potential to infinity













There. on the convex, a


dewar of manzanilla, cheroots and a pash,


album of serene ink-cherry,


ethereal voices took to the mike


separated by four tinnient seconds of arc,


soprani beguile the quail













And this, on the piecy flat...


cut-off kisses,


serpents attempt to jump a wall,


savage kite-flying, the


same soup she severed from the poor


uniting hell he


said in slang to his pistol














Then on the convex...


a mental someone,


Beauty looking back,


would laugh in becoming and become in laughing


two…estivate tinctorially on a bisque raft


a kiss on the collarbone













On the flat...


he who dogged us,


bored by peace the


police wanted to be felt to be doing their job,


tired light


events take place in flasks


slipping on a bishop-violet blowfish a


cri de coeur and


fensive death of one another’s century













On the convex...such as a


certain young woman meets an ascetic,


matter is bound energy a


thewy moth pushing at my knee a


connoisseur of avid moments a


hawk accompanied by a roebuck













On the flat...a


beetle giving egress a


womanized woman,


one’s heuristic prerogative,


kinematic non-locality,


visionary pack-animals coalesce a


radial union of open sets













On the convex...a


father was enfolded,


pianism in his leaf-like swim the


voices of camels echo up the walls a


Chevvy we can borrow,  .. two


men cutting a melon with a feather a


blind masseur at work on the


shoulders of an actor