by Nancy Jo Cullen

Pearl is a poetic exploration of the life of the legendary Pearl Miller, early Calgary’s most famous, and successful madam. Cullen fuses traditional lyric lines and experimental uses of form and language to fabricate a biography of Calgary’s mythical brothel keeper.

  • Winner of the Alberta book Awards Trade Fiction Book Award
  • Short listed for The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize
SKU: 9781897181035 Categories: ,

$15.95 CAD

Additional information

Weight .118 kg
Dimensions 8.5 × 5.5 × .1875 in
Page Count



Soft Cover

Year Published


Nancy Jo Cullen

Nancy Jo Cullen is a playwright, poet and fiction writer. Her plays The Waitresses (co-written with Anne Loree), Forever There and Gone Tomorrow (co-written with Rose Scollard) and Another Saturday Night have all been produced by Maenad Theatre in Calgary, of which she was a co-founder. She has published three poetry books with poetry books with Frontenac House: Science Fiction Saint which was shortlisted for three awards: Best Alberta Trade book, Best Alberta Poetry Book and The Gerald Lampert Award; Pearl (which won the Best Alberta Trade Book award) and Untitled Child.

She is a graduate of the University of Guelph Humber MFA program and is the 4th recipient of the Wrtiers’ Trust Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBT Emerging Writer. Her fiction has appeared in The Puritan, Grain, filling station, Plenitude, Prairie Fire and This Magazine. Two of her short stories were included in The Journey Prize Anthology, in 2012 and in 2014. Her short story collection, Canary, is the winner of the 2012 Metcalf Rooke Award. Canary published by Biblioasis in 2013 was highly acclaimed by reviewers across Canada.

She is at work on a novel and another collection of short stories.

Cullen has a delicious way with words that can be both biting and tender at times; Cullen has made a complex web of poetry to examine a complex woman in history.
~Kindah Mardam Bey, AnE Vibe

Cullen’s soft intense writing works without straining to impress.
~Alex Rettie, Alberta Views

“I find Pearl’s story emblematic of the renegade individualism Alberta claims to love,” Cullen writes in the introduction. Perhaps not surprisingly, though, Miller’s story isn’t well known; madams aren’t the kind of maverick the chamber of commerce celebrates.
~Lee Shedden, Calgary Herald

Like Atwoods’s Alias Grace the poet draws on true crime. With a legendary madam for inspiration, she explores the economic, sexist and psychological factors involved in the World’s Oldest Profession. Cullen culls phrases from a Modern Typewriting Manual of Office Procedures, the Penal Code, the Madam’s Little Black Book of Johns and a mock will, as well as Miller’s prison records to establish the authentic documentary purpose of the book.
~Anne Burke, Prairie Journal

Pearl spirals down to a series of epithets on the pillars of Miller’s life, much as it must have done years ago. Here, “whore” is tragic, solipsistic, business. Cullen has crafted a naked work and requiem of uncommon truth.
~Bryn Evans, Fast Forward