The Most Charming Creatures



With uncanny wit, inventive beauty, and numinous surprise, The Most Charming Creatures explores the contemporary and its language, considering our wonder, sorrow, bewilderment, anxiety, and tenderness. While these poems energize and connect and “turn the paren- / theses inside out so that / we mean everything,” they are also alive to the alluring complicity of language and its duplicity and deceptions. “This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but / while we watch.”

A follow-up to the award-winning author’s acclaimed selected poems, this new collection continues Barwin’s examination of the possibilities of the poem: a celebration, a story, an investigation, a riff, a word machine, a parable, a transformation. But what are the “most charming creatures” of the title? In 1862, scientific illustrator Ernst Haeckel termed radiolarians (ancient single-celled organisms with mineral skeletons) “the most charming creatures,” but here Barwin turns the microscope around to consider something just as strange and mysterious: language, our culture, and the self. From microorganisms, onion rings, grief, and Gerard Manley Hopkins to beetles, neoliberalism, sandwiches, Martin Luther, and stand-up comedy, he offers: “it’s a miracle that we’ve survived / it’s a miracle that we’ve survived at all.”


Gary Barwin

The bestselling author of 26 books of fiction and poetry, Gary Barwin has won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, the Canadian Jewish Literary Award, and has been a finalist for the Governor General’s Award and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He lives in Hamilton, ON.
Chapter Contributors Pages Year Price
Dust of the Wren, I won’t claim, Several Fishes Can Walk on Land, After Edward Thomas’s “Adlestrop”, Thirty Minutes Late, Pact of Oblivion, Everything, Limerick, Entirely, …
41 $4.10
Morethan, After “Gute Nacht” from Winterreisse by Wilhelm Müller, Names of the Hare, Weather Report, The Sweet Especial, CanLit Fires, John Clare Ghazal, The Softiad, Haiku, …
37 $3.70
Birds, Joy and Sorrow, Whale, Barman, Phone Call from John, and Tiny Wings.
8 $0.80
Blue Train, Saying Chaos like Cows, Bombardier Beetles Squirt Boiling Anal Chemicals to Make Frogs Vomit, Beard, Bucket List, Big Sad, Sonnet for International Poetry Day, Archaeology, Big, What …
24 $2.40