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Conyer Clayton is an Ottawa-based writer and editor from Kentucky, whose award-winning, multi-genre work often explores grief, disability, climate crisis, and gender-based violence through a surrealist lens. They are the author two full-length poetry collections: But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves. (Winner of The Archibald Lampman Award, and Finalist for the Pat Lowther,  Raymond Souster, and ReLit Awards, A Feed Dog Book, Anvil Press) and We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite (Winner of the 2021 Ottawa Book Award, Guernica Editions). Their latest (and 7th solo) chapbook is forthcoming with Gap Riot Press in summer 2024.


They currently work as a freelance literary editor, Senior Editor at Augur, and Nonfiction Editor for untethered magazine, and have guest edited issues for Room Magazine and CV2. They are a member of VII (an Ottawa-based poetry collective).


You can find their fiction, poetry, and nonfiction in Best Canadian Poetry 2023This Magazine, Room Magazine, filling station, Canthius, Arc Poetry Magazine, CV2, The Capilano Review, and others.

Conyer Clayton wearing an orange beanie and a green jacket. The background is blurred, but may be trees and a river.
Photo by Curtis Perry
The cover of But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves. by Conyer Clayton. This book cover features a bedroom completely submerged underwater with the windows flung open and white curtains floating in the water. An end table floats in the water near the top of the cover.

But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves.

(A Feed Dog Book, Anvil Press, 2022)


Purchase through Anvil Press or your favourite local bookseller

Winner of the Archibald Lampman Award

Longlisted for the League of Canadian Poets Pat Lowther Memorial Award

Longlisted for the League of Canadian Poets Raymond Souster Award 

Shortlisted for the ReLit Award for Poetry

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.

"But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves. is a powerful testimony of survivorship. ... these poems overflow with raw emotion and wash away expectations."

—Meaghan Flokstra, The Ampersand Review

"... [an] exemplary collection of surreal prose poems." 

—Elena Bentley, Arc Poetry Magazine

"... But this isn’t a grim book, partly because the scenarios often feature weird, funny details ... but also because the speaker in these nightmarish situations actively seeks a way out."

—Barb Casey, The Toronto Star

"The surrealist dreamscape of Conyer Clayton’s latest collection provides one of the most honest and visceral depictions of living and slowly healing from CPTSD that I have ever read ... a testament to intentional and persistent survival.”

—Emma Rhodes, The Puritan

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

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.

The cover of We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite by Conyer Clayton. The cover is black and orange, a dark swirl of snake skins.
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