Burning Province

by Michael Prior

Out now with McClelland & Stewart / Penguin Random House

"Rich with insights about memory and identity"⁠—Rigoberto González, LA Times

One of Bustle's "Quarantine Reads from Your Favorite Authors

Read it Forward "2020 Poetry Collection Not to Be Missed"

A CBC book to "read to celebrate Asian Heritage Month in Canada"

A CBC pick to "read to celebrate Poetry Month"

A CBC poetry collection "to watch for in Spring 2020"

From the Publisher: Acerbic, moving, and formally astonishing, Michael Prior's second collection explores the enduring impact of the Japanese internment upon his family legacy and his mixed-race identity.

Amid the record-breaking wildfires that scorched British Columbia in 2015 and 2017, the poems in this collection move seamlessly between geographical and psychological landscapes, grappling with cultural trauma and mapping out complex topographies of grief, love, and inheritance: those places in time marked by generational memory "when echo crosses echo."


Burning Province is an elegy for a home aflame and for grandparents who had a complex relationship to it—but it is also a vivid appreciation of mono no aware: the beauty and impermanence of all living things. "The fireflies stutter like an apology," Prior writes; "I would be lying to you / if I didn't admit I love them."


“A magnificent collection. In a voice tenderly apocalyptic, Burning Province transmutes inherited stories and silences around the internment of Japanese-Canadians at the outbreak of World War II into a sublime testimony of resilience. These poems enact with technical conviction Simone Weil’s dictum, ‘no grandeur except in gentleness.’ Michael Prior’s fierce gentleness is an exciting and exacting talent.” —Ishion Hutchinson, author of House of Lords and Commons

“Prior’s skill as a poet lies in his ability to both shape into being and rupture existing ideologies of the land and what it shelters—his poems upend preconceived notions of the pastoral. Fresh, crisp, and alive, this book is essential reading—if not for the breathless beauty of its lines, then for its historical revelations. Prior ensures that the stories of those loved ones never vanish.”

—Sally Wen Mao, author of Oculus

"Memory is a burning province in this noctilucent book that sings the night folds of history—its forgotten fragments and repressed accounts. Haunted by the exigencies of humans and planet, Prior’s elegiac lyric narratives are as beautiful as they are necessary. His poems will entice you to see and feel the world freshly, the greatest gift literature can bestow." 

—Alice Fulton, author of Barely Composed

Selected Poems



Michael Prior is a writer and teacher. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous magazines and anthologies across North America and the UK, including Poetry, The New Republic, Narrative, Poetry Northwest, Ambit, The Margins, Poetry Ireland Review, Global Poetry Anthology 2015, and the Academy of American Poets' Poem-A-Day series. He is a past winner of Magma Poetry's Editors' Prize, The Walrus's Poetry Prize, and Matrix Magazine's Lit POP Award for Poetry. His first full-length book of poems, Model Disciple, was published by Véhicule Press in 2016 and was named one of the best books of the year by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. His second book, Burning Province (McClelland & Stewart/Penguin Random House), was published in Spring 2020.

Michael holds graduate degrees from the University of Toronto and Cornell University. He is an Assistant Professor of English at Macalester College. 


"Century Plants," The New Republic

"Wakeful Things," Academy of American Poets

"My Father's Birthday is the Day Before Mine," POETRY

Three Poems, The PN Review

Two Poems, Poetry Northwest

"Campanology," Narrative

Two Poems, The Margins

"Minoru," The Margins

Two Poems, The Manchester Review

"Grandfathers' Axes," The Walrus

"In Cloud Country," The Walrus

© 2019-2020 by Michael Prior.