Awards and Honours:

Griffin Poetry Prize Finalist

Helen and Stan Vine Book Award


Griffin Poetry Prize Judges' Citation

"Anne Michaels’ Correspondences is a single, intensely lyrical poem of something over 700 lines, in 54 unnumbered sections. With an exceedingly spare vocabulary and a voice as light as a whisper, the poem weaves recollections of Paul Celan, Nelly Sachs, and many others into an elegy for the author’s father, Isaiah Michaels. The text is accompanied by reproductions of 26 gouache portraits by Bernice Eisenstein, and the physical book is designed and constructed in such a way that the portraits are subtly privileged over the text. In effect, the poem is hidden on the underside of the paintings. Yet the poem, for all its modesty, attempts something momentous. It is a sustained interrogation of language, memory, history, sunlight, and rain in search of words that are simple and clean enough to speak, as Michaels says, from someplace ‘deeper than a single heart’. It is a search for a language not only the living but also ‘the dead might understand and trust’. And it is an exercise in learning to read from and write on a highly elusive surface: the hidden place that Michaels calls the third side of the page.”

Not two to make one,
but two to make
the third

just as a conversation can become
the third side of the page
— Correspondences

In this beautifully-conceived accordian book, Michaels’ resonant book-length poem, an historical and personal elegy, unfolds on one side of the book’s pages. On the other side, in unison with the poem, are Bernice Eisenstein’s haunting portraits of the twentieth-century writers and thinkers Michaels’ poem summons - those for whom language was the closest thing to salvation.

Praise for Correspondences:

"Written as an elegy for the writer's father, Correspondences is a beautiful object – concertinaed pages of portraits and poetry containing a precise and bittersweet melancholy ... [B]y the end one has drawn a chair up to Anne Michaels's table, especially as her moving final poem reaches out a hand to the first and shows us that grief is, like this book, an unbroken circle." - The Guardian

"...the work grows stronger and more compelling with each pass ... demanding to be read multiple times for the pure pleasure that is reading wordplay on the page." - National Post

"Through a stunningly unique book-length collaboration, poet/novelist Anne Michaels and artist/writer Bernice Eisenstein have found a way to let the words of the former and the images of the latter co-exist... by suspending them in the dream state of a book that virtually never end ... [Michaels'] words never seem adrift; rather, each mark on the page is deliberate, as if each word were there only because it was scratched too deep to disappear." - Boston Globe

"The unusual format of Correspondences suits it well. This haunting and beautiful collaboration between Michaels and Eisenstein allows the reader to unfold discoveries and reclaim a sense of wonder. It is another example of the way grief can be a catalyst for art." - New York Journal of Book

"With its plain and elegant construction ... Anne Michaels’ beautifully unconventional book-length poem invites the reader into a pleated Möbius strip." - Arc Poetry Magazine

“Publishers are celebrating the allure of the beautiful object with editions that make a virtue of the form. Consider a concertina book of letters, Correspondences, from author Anne Michaels.” –  Harper's Bazaar