Just a moment in history.

Explore the work of Canadian poet and novelist, Andrea MacPherson.

Books by Andrea MacPherson

What We Once Believed

What We Once Believed is forthcoming from Caitlin Press in Spring 2017



Ellipses (Signature Editions, 2014)

The poems in Ellipses are extractions, explorations, and, finally, moments of alternate life experiences that are so often left to the gaps of historical record. Ellipses was inspired by a trinity of personal events: the birth of Andrea MacPherson’s daughter and the deaths of both of her grandmothers. After they died, MacPherson came to realize that she did not really know their stories, and would never be able to ask them. In Ellipses she reimagines familiar lore to recreate the lives of these two extraordinary women. This exploration leads to other marginalized voices in history — including Suzanne Valadon and the models who posed for Bellocq — and their stories. Ellipses reclaims the often obscured realities of motherhood, illness, and the struggles of these women for independence in verse.


away-mock-up.jpgAway (Signature Editions, 2008)

Away is inspired by travels abroad. Never leaving Canada far behind, Andrea MacPherson takes us with her on her grand tour of Europe from Ireland and Scotland to France and Greece, where the vast legacy of human history and her own ancestral origins mark her so subtly that, as a record of her stay in each country, she assembles suites of deft, personal lyrics that probe the mystery of estrangement from the familiar and the shock of the old’s sometimes anticipated, sometimes unexpected, impress.

Whether she is crossing the uneasy if commonplace border between north and south in Ireland, visiting the ruins of a jute mill where her Scottish great-grandmother once worked, stopping for a kir on a ruelle in Montparnasse, or voyaging out by ferry into blue clarities of the Aegean, MacPherson is a traveller always aware of how her perceptions—and her self—are being shaped. In this book of quiet beauty and careful observation, MacPherson embarks on re-inventing the travel poem on her own terms. What she brings with her as a poet is more than equal to what she encounters. Away marks a voice that knows what it is for the heart and mind to journey.


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Beyond the Blue

beyond-the-blue-cover.jpgBeyond the Blue (Random House, 2007)

In a Scottish mill town purged of men by war, four unforgettable women navigate a treacherous time, guided only by the bonds of family and their bold dreams of escape. In 1918, rainy Dundee is nearly emptied of men. The Great War has left the town’s women both newfound freedom and servitude. They toil in the deadly jute mills, taking in the children of perished family members and praying their own bodies – and spirits – do not fail them too. A grateful widow of the war, Morag shelters her daughters as best she can: beautiful Caro schemes to escape the working class with well-calculated seduction, while Wallis works in the mill alongside her mother, slowly fortifying both spirit and pocketbook for a more radical departure. Morag’s orphaned niece, Imogen, seeks to understand her fragile mother’s death, and the return of the father who abandoned them. Infused with the longing, courage and passion of its indelible cast of characters, and steeped in the faith and terrors of its time – from the suffragettes and the Easter Uprising to the influenza pandemic and the Tay Bridge disaster – Beyond the Blue is a lyrical, reflective novel about finding purpose and freedom in a place without hope.


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Natural Disasters

natural-disasters-cover-palimpsest.jpgNatural Disasters (Palimpsest Press, 2007)

Natural Disasters is the first poetry collection from Andrea MacPherson.  It explores memory and history, asking if it is possible to inherit the past and the generational complexities that come along with it. Stories of lost sisters and marriages based on card games combine with the immediate and personal responses to wild fires and collapsed schoolhouses.

The collection is also concerned with place, from the dry land of the interior of BC to the rugged beauty of the west coast shoreline. These settings affect not only language and mood, but tangible links to the past, the ‘dusky valleys’ and ‘planks stained with fish blood’. Here, the tragic mingles with the everyday, allowing shadowy figures and hazy memory to once again become real.


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When She Was Electric

electric.jpgWhen She Was Electric (Raincoast, 2003)

When She Was Electric is a layered, evocative first novel from a young writer. At its heart is a wrenching disruption–the disappearance of a young girl in a sleepy town in the 1930s.

Electric digs deep into the story of three generations of women: the enterprising grandmother who bought a rejected piece of land near an Indian Reserve; the daughters, ethereal Min and bold Nellie; and granddaughters Ana and Willa, who embody the hopes–and the secrets–of this matriarchy. MacPherson brilliantly reveals the hazy unreliability of memory, the fragility of life, and how a child’s death haunts a splintered town.


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