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Emily Vanderploeg

Strange Animals

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Strange Animals takes you to wild places; from Lake Huron to Swansea bedsits. These are hungry poems; where she plays with all our senses, feeds us chips, Swiss roll, orange peel, Sunday roasts. Discover what she has learned about planting a garden, “the land will remember who it was before the garden”. These poems will leave you full of hunger and love, a travel guide and love story; go with her, and let the “Aurora Borealis call you home”.’ – Jessica Mookherjee, Tigress (Nine Arches Press, 2019)


‘Reading Strange Animals feels a bit like rummaging around in someone's well travelled backpack full of old photographs, seashells, tarot, and countless precious found objects collected for "the passing of knowledge”. A brilliant new voice.’ – Roberto Pastore, Hey Bert (Parthian Books, 2019)


‘Emily Vanderploeg’s clear-eyed lyric poetry explores the questions of where we belong, who we have become, and who or what undertakes that journey alongside us. She reflects on a personal and familial history of immigration, acknowledging both the gift and the weight of that history. To read this intimate collection feels like being in conversation with a friend, allowing us the freedom to see ourselves anew, and to welcome our own continuous and surprising changes.’ – Carolyn Smart, Careen (Brick Books, 2015), Hooked (Brick Books, 2009)


Strange Animals is a collection that moves deftly between different kinds of poetic looking: the close up of the personal and intimate, and the longing gaze towards far-away family, language, culture. These are poems of abundance even as they mourn what is lost, charting the reader through gardens and orchards, down urgent green rivers and through teeming swamps, and so often we see the sea – a means to anchor even as it separates the self from what matters most: “that far field”. For all our wandering in the rich landscapes of a remembered natural world, we go inside, too, where another kind of richness awaits. These sharp and surprising poems so often put one in mind of Gwen John's interiors: the beauty and importance of the domestic, and the hard-won rewards found in the self alone. There is heartache here but also a committed hopefulness: these poems have faith that love can emerge in “the space between / the end and the beginning”.’ – Katherine Stansfield, We Could Be Anywhere By Now (Seren, 2020)


'Idealism, loss and hope are themes that run throughout this book, with an overall tone that is, like topics in these poems of oranges and paper cuts, sweet, sharp and pithy.' Buzz Magazine


'Canadian-born poet Emily Vanderploeg’s first full collection, Strange Animals, is a beautifully crafted rumination on identity, ancestry, and the environments that make us who we are.' Wales Arts Review


A Canadian grandchild of Dutch and Hungarian immigrants, Emily Vandeploeg explores issues of language, ritual, death and identity. Strange Animals chart the author’s journey from childhood home to settling across an ocean, moving through the vagaries of modern love as she travels to new cities and a newfound maturity.





Emily Vanderploeg writes poetry, fiction, and reviews. She studied English and Art History at Queen’s University (BA Hons) and Creative Writing at Swansea University (MA, PhD), and teaches creative writing to children and adults. Vanderploeg is a Hay Festival Writer at Work and recently completed a novel with the help of a Literature Wales New Writer’s Bursary Award. Her poetry pamphlet, Loose Jewels, won the Cinnamon Press Pamphlet Competition and was published in 2020. Strange Animals is her first full collection. Originally from Aurora, Ontario, Canada, she lives in Swansea with her two cats, Zsuzsi and Annie.