We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite reviewed by Chris Banks at The Miramichi Reader
We Shed Our Skin Likee Dynamite reviewed by Carla Scarano D'Antonio at The Temz Review
We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite reviewed by The Anti-Languorous Project
We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite reviewed by Kim Fahner at periodicities
Trust Only the Beasts in the Water reviewed by Jami McCarty for The Maynard
Trust Only the Beasts in the Water reviewed by Dessa Bayrock in periodicities issue 1
For the Birds. For the Humans. reviewed by Today's Book of Poetry
Interview with Open Book's Poet's in Profile Series
Interview by Kate Finegan in the Spring 2020 Issue of The Puritan
I was featured on Indigo/Chapter's Instagram for National Poetry Month alongside other renowned Canadian poets
Interview, poem, and short video reading on Red Alder Review
Interview on Poetry Mini Interviews blog
Interview on the Touch the Donkey Blog
Interview with Shazia Hafiz Ramji up on the Invisiblog
My top 5 book recommendations at The Poetry Question
Interview with Kiki Petrosino and Dan Rosenberg about my poem "Shellac" in Transom Issue 11: Evening in An Occupied Country
Praise for We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite (Guernica Editions)
"The poems in this stunning debut construct a world by colliding its sharpest angles. Instead of an orderly pastoral landscape, Clayton gives us “a pasture / with a rusted tractor.” Instead of happily-ever-after, we get “ruins of rock, the frantic mess / we made.” These poems manage to wrench beauty from loss, absence, departure—the various goodbyes that transition us along our individual paths. In this book, Clayton’s speaker emerges from the darkness of grief into “the space between / earth and sky,” a realm of generous possibility, where poetry begins."
—Kiki Petrosino, Author of Witch Wife and Hymn for the Black Terrific
"Conyer Clayton’s rich, unpredictable lines are imbued with the transformational traces and scars that humans, nature, and contraptions leave on one another. Vivid sounds and images stagger Plinko-like through these deeply personal poems that display both murmuration and volatility. This is a book that resonates."
—Stuart Ross, Author of Motel of the Opposable Thumbs and A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent
"We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite is an unpredictable and ethereal exploration of the ways we pacify our unhappiness, the masks we hide behind, and what waits to be confronted when we finally decide to give it all up.
Moving through addiction, relationships, the natural world, and our ultimate mortality, Clayton's words hang in the middle-space between overt meaning and open interpretation, allowing the reader to not just see but feel every moment of delicate, raw vulnerability throughout her work."
"We seem to be enamoured with short books bearing long titles, and Conyer Clayton’s We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite is no exception...Clayton’s speaker intimately engages with many topics, from lovers to abortion, nature to death. There is a closeness that pervades through each poem, a love that need not be sexual (though it sometimes is) nor even always personal. It is captured in the couples who “exchange / loaded glances over freckled shoulders and distracted backs” (37), but equally in forests, rivers, and soil. The speaker links the corporeal and the ecological, the personal and the natural."
"Clayton is capable of memorable lines that condense the sense of the poem into a few words, such as ‘A lifetime spent in yearning’ (‘Unpopular knowledge’), ‘to be crushed and shredded/between foreign skinned fingers’ (‘Broken Leaf’), ‘We have our skin on rock’ (‘Trace’), ‘I sink into your absence’ (‘Goodwill Mug’), and ‘How efficiently we grieve’ (‘The Screen Comes Off Easily’). These are brilliant verses that fulfil the essence of her poetry, conveying completeness in her poetic language but leaving a finitude that is left intentionally open in the content and themes of the poems."
-Carla Scarano D'Antonio in The Temz Review
"The poet Conyer Clayton’s strength is her ability to bend images into standout lines like “If the river stood still it would / become a mountain” or “I own this body, / sometimes” while keeping her line-breaks short and poetic structures minimalist.
Conyer Clayton’s spare lyrics in We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite (Guernica Editions) revel in the interiority of the poet’s imaginative life while occasionally shining a light on our exterior world using both physical and psychological imagery. I look forward to her “catching fire” across many more books to come."
-Chris Banks, author of Midlife Action Figure
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“Poetry best draws me in when a confluence of things occurs: language, narrative experience, and meaning that extends out of the poem itself to invoke insight or an insightful moment. The best poetry moves away from certain things too: cliché, stock phrasing, and a certain narcissism of existing only for the sake of itself.
'Seeds' resisted all the right things and moved towards all the right things to captivate. The more times I read the poem, the more it revealed to me in terms of the narrative situation. The line level drama here, too, was well considered as the narrator moves from the burning to the woods, to the boardrooms. Jarred perception sets time out of the ordinary and I was reminded of the craft of the great American poet, James Tate, who is adept at leaps and gaps for the sake of creating uncomfortableness and surreal perception. Consider the impact of the line, “Mortgage research and persistent fungi.” The author generates two seemingly unrelated concrete images in order to support the experience of the narrator as dissociated, of living in two worlds at once. There are two worlds existing simultaneously, one where the baby lives and one where the baby dies. The line, “Just missed” is aptly chosen. Undoubtedly, it will become a refrain for the narrator and her lack of “potential babies”. Everything about this poem rang of polished craft and sophistication."
Micheline Mayor, Calgary's Poet Laureate, on Arc's 2017 Diane Brebner Prize Winning Poem, "Seeds"
"Some of her poems are based on form, some surreal, some are bracing lyrics — all feature vivid images propelled by artful repetition. Associations among the images detour strict logic, but pull the reader or listener along to wherever she wants to take us."
Jean Van Loon