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Gillian Sze

Gillian Sze is a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba. She studied in Montreal where she earned a Master of Arts degree in creative writing at Concordia University in 2008. Her graduate thesis, a collection of poems based on visual art from a range of cultures, is entitled Tending Ice Gardens and is the basis of Fish Bones. Sze earned a Ph.D. in Études anglaises from Université de Montréal. In 2011, Sze won the Quebec Writers’ Federation’s 3Macs carte blanche Prize for her poem “Like This Together”.  With Rob Huynh, Sze launched an online journal, Branch Magazine, to explore the relationship between visual and literary arts. Sze continues to live in Montreal where she teaches creative writing.

Poetry (Chapbook)

Allow Me to Conjugate

Art by Roberutsu.
Montreal: WithWords Press, 2010.
(70 copies)


The Anatomy of Clay

Toronto: ECW Press, 2011.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Taking off from the Promethean myth of human creation, Gillian Sze’s second poetry collection explores the “anatomy of clay” and the individual as a sentient mystery. At times reflective, instructional, playful, or strange, the first section, Quotidianus, offers observational poems, which recount intimate and ordinary moments often missed, overlooked, or forgotten. Sze tugs at the fabric of habit and amidst the urban mundane finds her subjects in a woman waiting for the bus, a neighbour who talks to his plants, a girl smoking after a storm. The following section, Extimacy, takes a lyrical and confessional turn, veering inwards, dealing reflexively with the materiality of inner life: the self as ingredients, the self as experiment, the self as animal and artist. The Anatomy of Clay finds exceptions in the most prosaic conditions and the ineffable distinctions between people, selves, objects, and histories.



Fish Bones

Toronto: DC Books, 2009.
PS8637 .Z425 F57 2009

Publisher’s Synopsis

In her debut collection, Gillian Sze takes a random walk through the art museum and finds the drama of life framed in a series of powerful and precise artefact poems. Sze’s ekphrastic verse is unrelenting in its commitment to action. Each poem follows its own impetus, the origin of which is always a deeply felt encounter, whether aesthetic, familial, erotic, or exotic. Vacillating deftly between the suspended space-time of a museum exhibit and the charged urgency of the lives she imagines, Fish Bones is a collection at once stirring and arresting, tender and coolly true.

Awards and Honours

2009 McAuslan First Book Award (Quebec Writers’ Federation)–Shortlisted

Poetry (Chapbook)


Kentville, N.S.: Gaspereau Press, 2016.
The Devil’s Whim Occasional Chapbook Series;  No. 30
Edition of 300 copies



Toronto: ECW Press, 2017.
PS8637 .Z425 P36 2017

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

In Panicle, Gillian Sze makes her readers look and, more importantly, look again. It’s a collection that challenges our notion of seeing as a passive or automatic activity by asking us to question the process of looking. The book’s first section, “Underway,” deals with the moving image and includes both poetic responses to film theory and lyrical long poems while also reimagining fairy tales. The next section, “Stagings,” takes its inspiration from the still image and explores a wide range of periods, movements, and media. Sze’s focus on the process of looking anticipates “Guillemets,” a creative translation of Roland Giguère’s 1966 chapbook, Pouvoir du Noir, which contains a series of poems accompanied by his own paintings. Sze’s approach to Giguère is two-fold: she “translates” his text, and artist Jessica Hiemstra provides a visual response to her translation. The final section, “Panicle,” continues the meditative quality of “Guillemets” in a suite of poems that ruminate on nature, desire, and history.


Peeling Rambutan

Kentville, N.S.: Gaspereau Press, 2014.
PS8637 .Z495 P44 2014

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

A poetic travelogue, Gillian Sze’s Peeling Rambutan meditates upon the rifts between immigrant parents and their Canadian-born children and the struggle of overlapping values which sometimes arises when we view the complexity of our heritage through the lens of the present. Rooted in Sze’s first experience of Asia, these poems mingle the familiar spaces of her childhood home in Winnipeg with impressions of the distant villages of her parents’ origins. The result is a complex exploration of the relationship between identity, place, and history. …


Poetry (Chapbook)

A Tender Invention

Art by Roberutsu.
Montreal: WithWords Press, 2008.
(Issued in two versions: one with colour ill., one with black and white ill.)


Poetry (Chapbook)

This is the Colour I Love You Best

Art by Roberutsu.
Montreal: WithWords Press, 2007.

Mixed Format

Redrafting Winter

Co-author: Alison Strumberger.
Ottawa: BuschekBooks, 2015.

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

My Love for You is Always

Illustrated by Michelle Lee.
Philomel Books, 2021.
Forthcoming fall 2021

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Fiction (Juvenile, Board book)

The Night is Deep and Wide

Illustrated by Sue Todd.
[Victoria]: Orca Book Publishers, 2021.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Stunning illustrations complement this poetic lullaby that encourages young readers to rest their heads and be soothed to sleep.

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Sze, Gillian.  “Gillian Sze.” Interview with Poetry Quebec, reprinted.   Language Matters: Interviews with 22 Quebec Poets.  Ed. by Carolyn Marie Souaid & Endre Farkas.  Winnipeg: Signature Editions, 2013, 157-163.
PS8295.5 .Q8 L35 2013


Sze’s personal website

Interview “Ten Questions with Gillian Sze” with Clelia Scala from Open Book Toronto

Publisher DC Books

Publisher ECW Press

Publisher Gaspereau Press

Publisher Orca Book Publishers

Illustrator Roberutsu (Rob Huynh) website