Night Lunch by Mike Chaulk
Night Lunch is a shapeshifting sonnet sequence set in the cold waters off the North Coast of Labrador. Reflecting Chaulk’s own experience, the speaker—a young deckhand on a freight and passenger ferry servicing isolated communities—endures long irregular work hours, weather, icebergs, and loneliness, all the while navigating the taut intersections of race, labour, class, and masculinity. That Chaulk has Inuit family in and from Labrador makes this debut poetic journey a cultural coming-home for the young deckhand, as chronicled in supple, powerful verse.
"Night Lunch is a shimmering, sea-deep book about identity, family and territory, disguised as one of the most gorgeous books about work I have ever read. These poems take subtle, brilliant delight in language and rhythm, but it is their speaker’s generous, steady voice that is the humming engine at the collection’s heart, keeping time as he presses deeper into the complexities and contradictions of his Indigenous heritage, his work, and his past. Night Lunch is many things – autobiography, investigation, hymnal, crown – but more than anything it is an atlas, mapping brand new ancient territories of the mind, the land and the heart." – Emma Healey, author of Begin with the End in Mind and Stereoblind
"Gifted with a keen ear for the sonnet’s tender lurch and the resonant mattering of everyday language, Chaulk is truly a poet of the layer beneath. By threading a hidden world of 21st-century ship’s work into a fabric of heart-wrenching intimacy, Night Lunch gives a soft yet startling sheen to our worn-out ways of knowing the North." – John Nyman, author of Players
"Mike Chaulk has a talent for the torqued line, for bending his words and grammar at the precise point to thump the reader right square in the chest with the surprising depth of an image. He accomplishes necessary acts of linguistic surprise that bring life to his poetry and can catch the reader on their back foot to deliver a knockout blow. In Night Lunch, Chaulk takes ornate poetic forms from the past—the sonnet and the crown—and twists them into new use, like a bricoleur fashioning art from the busted chandelier of abandoned mansion. Chaulk uses these new tools to investigate the complicated inheritance of his family history and the landscape they came from—as his allusive speaker slips from watching The Young and the Restless with other labourers on a northern cargo vessel to the ruined graveyards of residential schools." – Zane Koss, author of Warehouse Zone