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Paperback : 9780889778610, 96 pages, April 2022


An award-winning poet attempts to map the brain’s neural connections, raising fundamental questions about identity and interiority.

This intricate, yearning work from award-winning poet Alison Calder asks us to think about the way we perceive and the ways in which we seek to know ourselves and others.
In Synaptic, each section explores key themes in science, neurology, and perception. The first, Connectomics, riffs on scientific language to work with and against that language’s intentions. Attempting to map the brain’s neural connections, it raises fundamental questions about interiority and the self. The lyric considerations in these poems are juxtaposed against the scientific-like footnotes which, in turn, invoke questions undermining authority and power. The second section, Other Disasters, explores ways of seeing or and being seen, from considerations of folklore to modern art to daily life.  
The speakers in these poems are searching for knowledge. Everyone is looking for a miracle.


“Calder holds the ineffable and the practical up against one another, and she approaches that intersection with characteristic wit and with a finely honed sense both of what makes something strange and what strangeness itself can reveal.” —Winnipeg Free Press “Creative and remarkable poetry” —Miramichi Reader
“Alison Calder displays a wonderful ear for the sounds of language, from the diction of science to the phrasing of fairy tales.” —Alice Major, author of Welcome to the Anthropocene

“What a brilliant, peculiar journey Calder has conjured through the brain… Her rendering of this extreme strangeness intimate to us is a powerful, upending achievement.” —Tim Lilburn, author of Kill-site
Synaptic is a remarkable book that puts neuroscientific approaches to perception in tension with the mythic and artistic practices we use to understand and give shape to our worlds. These are poems that will make you think differently about what the microscope sees and what the mind makes.” —Adam Dickinson, author of The Polymers and Anatomic

“The wonderfully articulated, poised, often epigrammatic poems, picking up glints from the cutting edge of neuroscience, are so beguiling. The author asks us to look at our brains and implicitly ourselves and our lives, our forgotten and remembered tasks, through the lens of bioscience refracted in turn through the mind of the poet. They are playful, witty, wry and often poignant.” —Raymond Tallis

Praise for Alison Calder:

“I’m in love with Alison Calder’s poems.” —Jeanette Lynes
“Alison Calder’s poems are wonderfully imaginative and wholly original. Hers is a fascinating, accomplished, inspired and inspiring new voice in Canadian poetry.” —Helen Humphreys, author of Rabbit Foot Bill