Conyer Clayton is a writer, musician, editor, and gymnastics coach living on unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe land. Her debut full-length collection, We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite (Guernica Editions, 2020), won a 2021 Ottawa Book Award, and was a 2020 Relit finalist. She won The Capilano Review's 2019 Robin Blaser Poetry Prize and Arc Poetry Magazine’s 2017 Diana Brebner Prize. She's released 2 albums and many chapbooks, most recently: Sprawl | the time it took us to forget (Collusion Books, 2020), written with Manahil Bandukwala, which was short-listed for the bpNichol award, and Towers (Collusion Books, 2021) by VII, of which she is a member. Her second book, But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves (A Feed Dog Book from Anvil Press) is forthcoming Spring 2022.
Photo by Manahil Bandukwala
We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite (Guernica Editions, 2020) is the winner of a 2021 Ottawa Book Award and a finalist for the 2021 ReLit Award of Poetry.
Available for purchase through Guernica Editions, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, or your local bookseller!
Audiobook also 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.
"Sprawl | the time it took us to forget" is a collaborative chapbook written by Conyer Clayton and Manahil Bandukwala in March 2020, published by Collusion Books in December 2020, and shortlisted for the 2021 bpNichol Chapbook Award. Pre-orders for a limited 2nd print run can be placed at the Collusion books website.
Recent publications: Savant-Garde Magazine, THIS Magazine, The Quarantine Review, Release Any Words Stuck Inside You III, CV2, and forthcoming with Watch Your Head, untethered magazine, and Augur Magazine.
- January 2022: By the River Reading Series, with Pheobe Wang, details TBA
But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves
is forthcoming with A Feed Dog Book from Anvil Press in Spring 2022
But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves, Conyer Clayton’s follow-up to her award-winning debut, We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite, is a collection of prose poems that employs surrealism, humour, and body horror to cope with CPTSD, assault, loss, fear, and the memories of it all. The narrator weaves her way through largely aquatic landscapes—water parks, ponds, beast-filled lakes, vast oceans. She walks through time, reverting to childhood and back within a few lines, has the sureness of knowledge that exists only in dreamscapes, and foreshadows the inevitable with a calm derived from accepting the absurd. These poems, hallucinatory and unexpected, are threaded by repetition: Here is another car accident. Here is another man to flee from. Here is questioned memory. Here is the site of grief, revisited, and sometimes, within it, tentatively, hope. In these poems, Clayton explores how we question the validity of our own memories, especially those related to abuse and assault, and the way we forget—or obsess over potentially forgetting—memories of those who’ve died. These poems validate dreams, by proxy, and all internal experience as authentic and valid experience that carries wisdom…even when we don’t know it.