About the book

Andrea MacPherson takes us on a grand tour of Europe, where the vast legacy of human history combines with her own ancestral origins to make a mark on her. In reaction, she assembles suites of deft, personal lyrics for each country. In this book of quiet beauty and careful observation, MacPherson reinvents the travel poem on her own terms.

About the author

MacPherson, Andrea

Andrea MacPherson is a poet and novelist, and has written five books: two novels, Beyond the Blue, and When She Was Electric, and three poetry collections, Ellipses, Away, and Natural Disasters When She Was Electric placed number 6 on CBC Canada Reads: People’s Choice, and Natural Disasters was longlisted for the ReLit Awards. 

Her poetry was anthologized in the UK publication, How the Light Gets In, and she has been a runner-up in both Grain Magazine’s Short Grain Award, and Prism International’s Poetry Award.

Born in Vancouver, Andrea was raised in the lower mainland.  Andrea holds an MFA from the Creative Writing Department at the University of British Columbia, where she was Editor of Prism International.  She has also acted as the Reviews Editor for Event Magazine.  Currently an Associate Professor at the University of the Fraser Valley, Andrea teaches creative writing and literature.



Strange, this obsession with doors.

Captive doors. Execution-yard doors.
The doors of schoolhouses. Homes. Bathhouse doors.

I’ll return home with a full roll of pictures:
green, red, blue
sometimes black or brown.

Never photos of people entering or leaving.
Never faces, dark boots, pale hands.
Just the solid reminder that something waits behind.

(If you catch the right light,
you can almost see it through the keyhole.)


At eleven, my mother swam
in an outdoor pool in Arbroath.
She had come for grieving, but instead
found tight bands of blue held above her head,
broom surrounding the water.

They stayed in a caravan, avoiding
the seaport where her mother had
grown up, where her grandmother
had died while they were hovering
over the Atlantic. Landing, her mother cried,
sagging against their broken suitcases,
and my mother held her arm. Felt sorrow
most in the soft skin there.

They spent days in Broughty Ferry, listening
to the cry of gulls, and peering in store windows;
or Carnoustie where they ate at tiny fish shops
where my mother learned the texture of gills.

Her mother left with only a rose-gold
wedding band, a few porcelain figurines:
dogs, women in fancy dress, lambs.
And my mother took with her the memory
of water, smoked fish on her tongue.


The low slink of a cat beneath an outdoor table.
They are drawn to our plates of fish,
skeleton intact
and the low light covering Fira.
Torches blaze around the perimeter,
as if feral cats might be turned feaful.

Fear is only for the tame.

Here, the spines of cats are more apparent
than their coats. Mangy. Matted.
They move between tables in hope,
perhaps aware of the empathy
in travellers who witness ancient shipwrecks.

This morning we watched a man
pretend to drown in an outdoor pool.
Feigned distress, his gurgled English
broken with Dutch, as he mocked
those swallowed by the Aegean.

Small felines sunk in boats heavy with cargo.
Fear only reaching them
as they first learned the taste of salt
the thick cut of it through fur.


Away, Andrea MacPherson's most recent book of poetry follows the poet on her travels from Ireland to Scotland, France to Greece. While none of the poems experiments particularly with the travel genre, each section captures a snapshot moment. What you'll… >>

— Erin Wunker Canadian Literature

MacPherson's second collection Away: Poems contains travel poems that narrate a making of the unfamiliar personal. On a journey that charts characters and events in family histories, the poems are grouped according to geography: Ireland, Scotland, France and Greece. At… >>


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