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      William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

Brian Brett

Trauma Farm

Brian Brett

About the Author

Brian Brett was born in Vancouver and studied literature at Simon Fraser University from 1969 to 1974. Writing and publishing since the late 1960s, he has also been involved in an editorial capacity with several publishing firms such as the Governor-General Award winning Blackfish Press. In the early seventies, he began working as a freelance journalist and critic for various publications and newspapers, including the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun, New Reader, Books In Canada, Victoria Times-Colonist, Vancouver Province, and The Yukon News, where he was the poetry critic for two years and had his own column. His journalism has appeared in almost every major newspaper in Canada. He is currently writing a monthly newspaper column called CultureWatch. Brett is the author of Uproar’s Your Only Music—a Globe and Mail Book of the Year—and several books of poetry. He currently lives on a farm with his family on Salt Spring Island, B.C., where he cultivates his garden and creates ceramic forms.

About the Book

An accomplished poet, Brian Brett has been farming on Salt Spring Island for the last two decades. He’s barrel-chested and has a force of character that is only matched by his cussing parrot. In this thoroughly entertaining meditation on small, mixed farming, Brett asserts his place amongst Canada’s most erudite, pas­sionate, and hilarious writers of our time. Brett begins Trauma Farm with a naked walk in the darkness and then takes the reader on an eighteen-year-long day that concludes with a deer in the silver moon­light. Along the way, he contemplates the perfection of the egg and the nature of soil; he offers a scathing critique of agribusiness and the modern slaughterhouse. Sharing his deep knowledge of biology and botany, Brett’s narrative travels from Babylon to globalization, and demonstrates the importance of both tall tales and rigorous science.

Critics / Reviews

“Brett's wit and giddy ambivalence makes this account a stretch more provocative than similar rural
memoirs, and an altogether compelling read.”
Publishers Weekly

"Trauma Farm
reads almost as an invitation, a provocation, to make the natural, rooted, harmonious existence our own in whatever small ways we can. It is a striking, stunning book, easily one of the best of the year.”
National Post

“As is the case with most small independent farmers these days, they don’t make a living from the
farm, but they have made a life. Trauma Farm is an account of that life, of the day-to-day joys and
frustrations of the farmer’s existence, while at the same time offering a sweeping historical
examination of the history of agriculture and the current state of the world. It’s a striking, stunning
Ottawa Citizen

“Brett is rooted – emotionally, socially, and creatively – to this patch of the earth. He has left his mark on it, certainly, but it has left its mark on him to a far greater degree. Trauma Farm is a vivid and stirring account of how deep those marks go.”
Vancouver Sun

“Brett hangs meditations of farm life, observations on biology and botany, and musings about the
modern world on this Joycean structure. His writing is so vivid, the observations so telling, that a
reader can virtually feel the smooth heft of a collected egg in the palm of a hand or hear the goofy,
honking dawn call of the peacock.”
Globe and Mail

“…a colorful portrait of the peculiar magic in the everyday labors of rural living. Brett writes of his
experiences on the farm with affection and curiosity, and his poetic and deeply personal stories follow his journey toward understanding the contradictions inherent in farm life – which he finds at once fundamentally resilient yet earnestly fragile.”
Green Living

“It's easily one of the finest books of the year…”
Times Colonist


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