Publication Year

For it is a Pleasure and a Surprise to Breathe

New and Selected Poems

For thirty-five years, award-winning poet Gary Barwin has been opening up new ways of being in poetry. In this long-awaited new and selected collection, For It Is a Pleasure and a Surprise to Breathe, Barwin and his editor, Alessandro Porco, have drawn from his extensive writings in previously published books, chapbooks, small press works, magazine and journal publications, as well from unpublished and uncollected works to create this category-defying collection. With audacity and the occasional wisecrack and pun, too, his work uses a variety of forms and styles to investigate aesthetics, explore identity, culture, ecopoetics and questions of language. Throughout, Barwin stretches language to its fullest extent, whether he’s exploring alternative translations or working with visual poems that explore and exploit the borderblur between poetry and art. This collection will surprise, delight, and move readers, and it establishes Barwin as one of Canada’s most accomplished and important poets.


Gary Barwin

Writer, musician and multimedia artist, Gary Barwin is the author of twenty-two books including the nationally bestselling novel Yiddish for Pirates, winner of the Leacock Medal for Humour, the Canadian Jewish Literary Award, and finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General's Award. He is a three-time recipient of the Hamilton Poetry Book of the Year, has received the Hamilton Arts Award for Literature and has co-won the bpNichol Chapbook Award and the K.M. Hunter Artist Award. Barwin has been writer-in-residence at McMaster University; the University of Western Ontario; Wilfrid Laurier University; the Toronto, Hamilton and London Public Libraries; Northern Ontario Writer's Workshop and Hillfield Strathallan College. He has taught writing in universities, colleges and in the community, including at McMaster University, King's College (Western University), Hillfield Strathallan College and Mohawk College. The author of many books of poetry, his work has been performed, exhibited and published internationally. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario, and at

Chapter Title Contents Contributors Pages Year Price


Phases of the Harpsichord Mood – Down into the Streets – a rabbi, a schoolboy, and a tailor walk into a bar – Rabbit – Martin’s Idea – in the clouds, the eggs … 80 $8.00


How I watched until the moon – Mind: Two Theories – Murmuration – Asemic Chair and Letter E – Comic Score – Speech (bird) – The Wild and Unfathomable Always, … 15 $1.50


Planting Consent – Evertheless – Psalm – Inverting the Deer – Inbogganing – Shopping for Deer – Brick – The Lookout Man – Postcard – … 52 $5.20


Ampersand Comic – M Rocket – Licht 2 – E Mondrian – Miro’s Sky – A on the Landscape – McCaffery Landscape – Vessel – The Quantum Word – … 15 $1.50


Combination – Anechoic – Invisible Deer – Selected Pwoermds – from “The Kama Sutra of Words” – Keen – Glass – River – This is just to … 37 $3.70