About the book

Speaking a language we understand, Rona Shaffran’s poems tell the story of remarkable things that can happen in a broken relationship. These poems inhabit the sharp edges and rich depths of a union too long untended. Ignite begins in wintry suburbia with a man and woman who have lost emotional and physical connection. A magic-realist plunge into the atavistic tropics of desire breaks this barren matrix. The exotic landscape sparks resurgent passion, which leads to a dramatic and healing turn-around for the couple. The poems of disappointment don’t waste a word. The poems of arousal are sensual, succinct and poignant. The garden grows. The transformation is real.

Straightforward on the surface, yet taking us to deeper levels of understanding, the poems are unflinchingly honest. Individually, they startle, and evoke primal recognitions. When read in sequence, the poems of Ignite impel us to the story’s conclusion. The man and woman come alive as their joy and sadness meld together. There is dignity in this progression, and the restraint that comes with dignity.
These are poems for readers and lovers in all their seasons, yet there is hard-won maturity to the lovers in Ignite. Everyday gestures transform into universal experiences, taking us to the heart of emotions and experiences of a lifetime’s duration. The language, refined to bone-essential elements, almost disappears to create an intimacy with the reader, a collective energy, a human experience that we all share.

About the author

Shaffran, Rona

Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Rona Shaffran lives in Ottawa, Ontario. Ignite (Signature Editions, 2013) is her first published collection of poetry. It tells the story of remarkable things that can happen in a broken relationship between a man and a woman, healed by a very physical process of self-discovery.

Rona Shaffran recently retired as co-director of the Tree Reading Series, one of Canada’s longest running poetry venues, where she is also a member of the board of directors and organizes master poetry workshops. She is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers and the Banff Centre Writing Studio. Her poems have appeared in Canadian literary journals, including Vallum, in an illustrated chapbook published and distributed in Canada and Australia, and in several collaborative chapbooks. She has won honourable mention for the John Newlove Poetry Award. Retired several years ago from federal government work, Rona has chaired the boards and committees of many non-profit organizations. She devotes time to writing and to travel, and is at work on a second manuscript that includes both poetry and prose.



Winter moon
streams through the window
electroplating our bedcovers,

squares of light silver
your face, a death mask
silent as the crusted snow.

In a stinging wind,

the nearby streetlamp combs
our front yard for shadows,

a broken white umbrella limps
down the monochrome street.

A metal street sign strikes
its steel post,

the tocsin bell.


Through tall grass to the world’s edge,

I walk where coastline careens

to a restive sea below

the volcano, that hulk fuming

against a torch red sundown.

I climb its black back,

my feet trembling

on the cone of tuff and cinder,

the smoke curling

from earthen fissures,

and from the volcano’s peak,

javelins of flame pierce

the sable sky, firing

smoky clouds fluorescent orange.

I lay my body

on rocky soil, transfixed

by the luminous heavens,

when a wayward star

plummets past me, blazing

a blue-white trail to the sea.

Like a brass key cut

for a steel lock,

he approaches me,

hazel eyes velvet,

horse-like nostrils flared,

he strokes my shoulder

with small, insistent breaths.

My breasts swell,

their flesh electric.

Blood unleashes

charged particles that circuit

from him through me

and back through him,

each entry to my body

drawing inward,




till, deep in the recesses

of my core,

a rusty latch


Stay up here with me

all night, here on the edge

of the world.


A tangled undergrowth of twisted roots and gnarled stems grew untended between us. On that impassable ground, I tripped and fell, rose and fell again. You had vanished. Yet each time I rose, I listened for the cadence of your walk. Now you dance to a new jazz rhythm, luring me to your breath in hushed night, clearing the path to you, new woman.


Ms. Shaffran’s writing is clean and insightful, her very personal imagery often painful in its descriptive beauty. The biting but artful observations she makes of the search for self within another are direct and clear.  It is her womanly fingerprint… >>

— Val B. Russell Tuck Magazine

It is too easy to differentiate between literary styles. Poems go in one group, fiction in another, and drama is often seen as if it were a whole separate species. The best story telling, however, often ignores the boundaries between… >>

— Alejandro Bustos Apartment613

In her debut collection, Ignite, Rona Shaffran explores the subject of marital alienation with spare, muscular lines and startlingly original imagery. Heartache and despair are nothing new to poetry; indeed, poets Sharon Olds and Carol Ann Duffy have both recently… >>

— Rachel Rose, poet

An admission, I saw this book as a manuscript/work in progress. Luckily, for us, the reader, so did: John Barton, Karen Connelly, Carolyn Forche, Daphne Marlatt, Susan McMaster, Stuart Ross, Olive Senior, D.M. Thomas and Jan Zwicky. Rona Shaffran is… >>

— Michael Dennis, poet poetry reviews on Michael Dennis's blog

. . .A large part of how we identify ourselves is through our relationships with others. Rona Shaffran's Ignite, published by Signature Editions, is a collection of poems that takes a heartbreakingly honest look at the broken relationship between a… >>

— Tara Seel The Central Plains Herald-Leader

For Rona Shaffran, the ground beneath her feet is important. The linked poems in this collection present some of the most honest and true poetry I have read recently. Ignite opens with a sequence of poems bathed in mid-winter light.… >>

— James Edward Reid Vallum

Rona Shaffran’s new book of poetry, her first published collection, follows a lustless couple through a transformative journey from disconnect to rekindled passion.

The woman’s magic-realist voyage to an exotic locale leads to a personal and, consequently,… >>

— Ilana Belfer Ottawa Jewish Bulletin

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