Science Fiction Saint, by playwright and poet Nancy Jo Cullen, investigates the space between a more traditional lyric line and the experimental use of form and language. A provocative work that shimmers with risk and offbeat humour.
The poet has a real gift for juxtaposition, setting different language registers against one another, punning, and generally torquing up the language of the quotidian in interesting and unexpected ways… The leaps are adept, exciting, and often amusing, even, occasionally, breath-taking.
Cullen gives us front row seats at what Seigfried Sassoon called “the great theatre of the self”. Her work is a series of turns and pirouettes, leaping from childhood trauma, to sexual exploration, to the divine, to the possibilities of loving with one’s imagination, and back again, all without missing a beat.
There’s a questing and multidimensional mind at work as the poems explore a real mix of subjects, from surviving girlhood to working in the small-town tourism industry to seduction.
Though an account of sainthood in other than the usual settings, Science Fiction Saint is still a story of triumph over the hells created for us in the violence and expectations of others. In both form and content, Cullen’s poetry is a sassy, assertive attack, irreverent in the way that all who question tradition remind us what it is to be human and strike out at what holds us back.
Just under each of these poems, invisibly audible, runs a camouflage of song. We can hear the words of heaven and hell, of the rites of passage, of sexuality, but what we really listen to is the song. Nancy Cullen uses her attentive and tuned ear to not only explore the obvious content of one’s own living but to literally tune into the hum behind the thought. These poems are what the imagination sounds like, the harmony of noise, those “chunks of whatever wasn’t vacuumed” after the confession.
Science Fiction Saint is a tightly woven collection of poetry filled with dynamic imagery. In its immediacy, the oral tradition meets the page in a playful celebration of life in the twenty first century. The reader is propelled between the lyrical and post-modern line as Nancy Jo Cullen speaks of a woman’s journey that questions, “What is holy?” all the time debunking myths that limit the possibilities of spirit. This first collection rockets.
- Shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award
- Shortlisted for the Stephan G. Stephansson Award
- Shortlisted for Alberta Book Awards Trade Fiction Book Award
About the Author
Nancy Jo Cullen is the author of two previous collections of poetry, Science Fiction Saint and Pearl. Science Fiction Saint was short-listed for the Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry, the Writers Guild of Alberta’s Stephan G. Steffanson award for poetry and the book publishers Association of Alberta’s best trade book. Pearl won the Alberta book Awards Trade Fiction Book Award and was short listed for The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize. Nancy Jo Cullen lives in Toronto where she is at work on an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Guelph–Humber.
Nancy Jo Cullen was the 4th recipient of the Dayne Ogilvie Grant. The grant is given annually to an emerging gay or lesbian writer who demonstrates great promise through a body of work of exceptional quality.