Emily & Elspeth

By Catherine McNeil

Categories: Poetry, LGBTQ+
Imprint: Dagger Editions
Paperback : 9781773860992, 80 pages, February 2023

Weird, wonderful, and slightly dangerous, this is a queer love story that’s anything but typical.


Emily & Elspeth follows two women and their unique paths to love… and each other. Catherine McNeil’s latest collection is a delightful romp through Mexico, the imagined inner-workings of Frida Kahlo’s relationship(s), and Vancouver bedrooms. Through poems that flirt with the intersections of desire, art, and commitment, she pieces together Emily and Elspeth’s relationship as playfully as she takes it apart.

Along the way, Emily & Elspeth brings you to places both intimate and unexpected: a belly where a uterus used to be; a girl matador facing off against a bull; and “fat, honeyed days, swollen with desire” that risk being destroyed by the nefarious aims of a government spy.

Weird, wonderful, and slightly dangerous, this is a queer love story that’s anything but typical.


“In her inaugural poetry collection, Catherine McNeil presents a strong poetic voice: clear, quirky, full of the west wind. Spanning Vancouver, Mexico, and the Sunshine Coast, McNeil tells the story of two women who fall in love. The pace is lightening fast, ultra cool, urban, almost urbane, and in a good way. This collection is hot-wired. Oo la la, be ready for a lyrical phantasmagorical read. It won’t disappoint you. You won’t be able to put it down.”

—Arleen Paré, author of Time Out of Time

emily watches her body get up / salutes the sun / someone spies on her. In, before leaving the west coast, we get our first glimpse into the fact that someone is documenting emily’s days as she challenges the belief that disabled people need to be laying down / at home at all times. She journeys to a writers’ conference in San Miguel where she finds another writer, Elspeth (Lizzy) a woman who stays where her hands are. emily hopes lizzy’s planet is in her galaxy. She is. This collection contains delightful and punchy honesty about love, and the way we wobble towards healing."

—Jónína Kirton, author of Standing in a River of Time