Playing into Silence

By Tina Biello

Categories: Poetry
Imprint: Dagger Editions
Paperback : 9781987915785, 72 pages, June 2018


Growing up during the 50s and 60s in small town Alberta, Pam was keenly aware, by the age of nine, that she was a lesbian. And she also knew well to hide this about herself. Pam would search for books on the "The Island of Lesbos", only to return from the library with a copy of Little Women. In between the vast spaces of dust and dugouts, she grows up and grows old, playing her saxophone in deep, blaring notes. Age is a constant marker throughout these poems for an otherwise long and lonely time of waiting for queer rights, for acceptance, for love.

Poet Tina Biello unearths just about everything from beneath the Alberta ground-dinosaur bones, a family's firstborn, missing cows. A voice from within the Prairies, Playing into Silence is a look back at a dry time in lesbian identity.


“… a visual and musical journey into the memories of Pamela, a young woman discovering love in the 1950s. … Biello’s collection is a deeply human story, at times tragic, but also charming, laced with a humour easily understood.”

The Malahat Review

“Biello’s language is rich with emblems: old furniture, old vehicles and machines, a mask, a musical instrument. Arguably, Biello’s narrative format allows merging of subjective/ objective material more easily in poetry than prose.”

BC BookWorld

“Narrative poetry often seems autobiographical even when we know it isn’t. Perhaps poetry is by definition more intense, concentrated and personal than prose. … throughout the volume, Biello makes use of her training in theatre and the art of the mask.”

The Ormsby Review

“It isn’t often that poetry keeps me reading to find out what happens next but that was the case with Playing into Silence, Tina Biello’s third, full-length collection of poetry. […] The conversational aspect and first person voice of many of the poems will make those readers who are fearful of or resistant to poetry into fans…”

—Mary Ann Moore, Story Circle Book Reviews