Whistle Stops: A Locomotive Serial Poem

Whistle Stops: A Locomotive Serial Poem


About the book

Whistle Stops: A Locomotive Serial Poem occurs over a series of train rides between Toronto and London, Ontario. Each segment of the poem, marked by a time stamp and train number, occupies one train ride. Jack Spicer's concept of serial poetry combines with Charles Olson's "projective verse" in a dynamic that resembles the momentum of a train as it carries the poet speaker towards and away from her love interest. Whistle Stops is also informed by Philip Larkin's "The Whitsun Weddings", Thomas Hardy's "On the Departure Platform", and Allen Ginsberg's Iron Horse, works in which these male poets incorporated the train as a phallus image into the railway poem tradition. Even so, Izsak responds to critiques of the poetic movements she clearly reveres with unbridled (and surreal) female sexuality. In "Nov. 12th to London 16:36", she writes, "Oh train / it is strange for your shape / that I / am inside you". In Whistle Stops, sex—like rail travel and serial poetry—hurtles forward in non-narrative fashion, as a rhythmic train of thought offset by purely poetic spasms. Whistle Stops is not a reaction against the railway tradition or the Olsonian tradition, but an unapologetically female addition to a movement that is and should be still in motion.

About the author

Izsak, Emily

Emily Izsak was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, where she recently completed her first year of the University of Toronto’s MA in English and Creative Writing program. Her work has been published in Arc, The Puritan, House Organ, Cough, The Steel Chisel, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, and Hart House Review. In 2014, she was selected as PEN Canada’s New Voices Award nominee.


from Oct. 22nd 83 to London 16:35

Daughters of impulse in rarely shameful infancy your precipitous vertebrae heighten the ball game Agony of lateral movement versus the dialectic in and out come and go thumb and clitoris In gentler times in a better train car the music may develop direction


For some time now I’d been looking forward to Toronto poet Emily Izsak’s first trade poetry collection, Whistle Stops: A Locomotive Serial PoemWhistle Stops is... >>

— Rob McLennan Rob McLennan's blog

Upcoming event with Emily Izsak

Thursday June 1, 2017 at 6:30 PM

Toronto, ON

Thursday Night Poets

knife | fork | book

Rick's Cafe in Kensington (281 Augusta Avenue)

Head down to Rick's Cafe where Emily Izsak, along with Lise Gaston, will be reading for kfb's Thursday Night Poets weekly reading event.
Emily will be reading from her debut poetry collection Whistle Stops: A Locomotive Serial Poem.

Upcoming event with Emily Izsak

Tuesday July 4, 2017 at 8:00 PM

Toronto, ON

The Art Bar poetry series

Free Times Cafe (320 College Street)

Emily Izsak is the guest reader for this evening of The Art Bar's poetry series.

More event information here.

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