Conyer Clayton is a writer, musician, and editor living on unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe land. She is the author of But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves. (A Feed Dog Book by Anvil Press, 2022), We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite (Guernica Editions, 2020, Winner of the Ottawa Book Award), and many chapbooks. Her poetry, essays, and criticism appear in Room Magazine, filling station, Canthius, Arc Poetry Magazine, CV2, The Capilano Review and others.
Photo by Manahil Bandukwala
A Feed Dog Book from Anvil Press
The narrator of But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves. weaves through aquatic landscapes—water parks, beast-filled lakes, vast oceans—reverting to childhood and back, foreshadowing the inevitable with a calm born of accepting the absurd. Conyer Clayton's poems, explore how we question the validity of our own memories, especially those of abuse and assault, and the way we forget—or obsess over forgetting—memories of those who’ve died. These poems validate dreams and all internal experience as authentic…even when we don’t know it.
Praise for But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves.
"There is so much pain contained with this book, and through it all, the narrator survives and perseveres. While the poems do not shy away from facing suffering, neither do they crumble under its weight. ...But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves. is a powerful testimony of survivorship. Set in a surreal and dreamy landscape, these poems overflow with raw emotion and wash away expectations."
—Meaghan Flokstra in The Ampersand Review
"...if there ever was ONE book this year about the experience of living as a woman in contemporary society to learn from, it would be this eloquent, uncompromising, fiercely daring, and frankly breathtaking book."
"This book surprised me on every page. Conyer Clayton writes prose poems that erupt with emotion, and narratives that swerve beautifully from expectations. In But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves. humour is dropped in between surprising images like dynamite, and the world of memory is not as it seems, but as truthful as ever. These poems will slosh around inside your brain, will lap at your heart and will tickle you like the tide coming in, before they overtake you."
—Dina Del Bucchia, Author of It's a Big Deal!
“In Conyer Clayton’s poems, water is the medium for grief and touch, memory and dream. In vignettes that are expansive, taut, and aqueous, she holds spell and humour in the same breath. The speakers in her poems don pink bikinis, post on socials, and are late for poetry class with Dionne Brand. This book heralds Clayton as a poet unafraid to trust the sentence and break the line for sobriety and foxes to swim right through to us.”
—Shazia Hafiz Ramji, Author of Port of Being
“If dreams hold metaphors, they also hold the edge of real knives, words that could cut through the page to reveal or resolve a trauma—if only the dream didn’t lurch away. In the ruthless logic of dreams (do I abandon this pig or my family?), violence and death float into view, then bubble to the surface, evaporating. The dreamer morphs through roles—woman, child, sister, daughter, lover, survivor—circling danger with the calm remove of wakefulness. Conyer Clayton’s elegant prose poems are more than a dream diary. They are a testament to survival.”
—Sachiko Murakami, Author of Render
We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite (Guernica Editions, 2020)
Winner of a 2021 Ottawa Book Award
Finalist for the 2021 ReLit Award of Poetry
Available for purchase through Guernica Editions, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, or your local bookseller
Audiobook available on Audible and Apple Books
In her debut collection of poetry, Conyer Clayton hovers in the ether, grasping wildly for a fleeting sense of certitude. Through experiences with addiction and co-dependence, sex and art, nature and death, she grapples for transcendence while exploring what it means to disengage. What is revealed when you allow yourself to truly feel? What do you ask for to carry you into life, and where do you land when this fails? And when you are finally, beautifully, emptied out, who are you? The poems in We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite wonder aloud amidst tangled revelations, and yearn to be lifted away.