By Kim Goldberg

Categories: Poetry, Environment
Imprint: Caitlin Press
Paperback : 9781773860268, 96 pages, February 2020

Devolution's quirky, reality-bending poems and fables of extinction and ecological unravelling are haunting and unforgettable.


Devolution is Kim Goldberg's eighth book and her personal act of extinction rebellion. The poems and fables span the Anthropocene, speaking to ecological unraveling, social confusion, private pilgrimage, urbanization and wildness. Using absurdism, surrealism and satire, Goldberg offers up businessmen who loft away as crows, a town that reshapes itself each night, a journey through caves so narrow we must become centipedes to pass. Goldberg's canvas holds both the personal and the political at once, offering rich layers of meaning, but with a playfulness reminiscent of Calvino or Borges. Each imaginative narrative will haunt the reader long after the book has been put down.


"Goldberg creates a dream world in her writing, full of nightmarish loss, fragmentation and decay juxtaposed with shards of radiant, resonant beauty. Like Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne, Goldberg shows us where to look amongst the garbage and the flowers. [...] She can write lines that literally take your breath away, and creates images that will remain with you long after you close the book."

—Tom Sandborn, Vancouver Sun

“The biotariat remains a mere rumour—the possible politics we might find in true solidarity with the resurgent and animate non-human. To think our way back/forward (devolving/evolving) into the embrace of the animal, Kim Goldberg is here to remind us that our voyage is necessarily “surreal”—just above the trappings of what we have decided to call “real,” where the universe is still left ajar. All seams are unraveling. Fish declare the emergencies that humans too often will not. Do not go in fear of personification or anthropomorphism—it’s just the way the animal world has always spoken to us, encouraging us to cross the little burning bridge over the swelling stream we call the present.”

—Stephen Collis

“Reading this book is like touring an end-of-the-world library of thought. Encountering the “Special Collection” we don the required white gloves; later, we view a chilling “Temporary Exhibit” in which the homeless are the only survivors of a sonic attack. Goldberg depicts a world gone cyber-mad: “a tumble of techno-cultural contexts beyond my control” and does so deftly, using a combination of ultra-realism with flourishes of the surreal, even offering a fishing derby where the salmon cast lines and fish for humans. Fantastic – in both senses of the word – this collection is one you won’t soon forget.”

—Heidi Greco, Flightpaths: The Lost Journals of Amelia Earhart 

“In Devolution, Kim Goldberg is a climate-voyant, offering visions of time-warped ecologies and malignantly inverted processes of nature. Blending apocalyptic imaginary with late-capitalist moralism, Goldberg’s near-future is a place where “the human … is no match for the laws of physics or fabulist fiction.” This is a world in which the landscape can get up and walk away, as if tired of human hubris, yet where new animals might take up the role of evolutionary mistake-makers. This is a vision of the cosmos that sees accountability without accusation, where we are as innocent, or as guilty, as stars imploding with self-awareness.”

—Sonnet L’Abbé, author of Sonnet’s Shakespeare