image of the book cover of Orchid Astronomy

An Orchid Astronomy

Tasnuva Hayden

$24.99 PB / $11.99 ePub (T)

196 pages

6 x 9 inches

Paperback: 978-1-77385-271-3

Epub: 978-1-77385-273-7

Library PDF: 978-1-77385-272-0

July 2022

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A five-pointed, language-infused star map cataloging a migrating requiem of memories, mythologies, and science in the face of climate catastrophe and personal collapse.

Sophie grew up in Veslefjord, deep in the Norwegian North, where the ice stretches to the horizon and the long polar night is filled with stories about the animals of the sea, ice, and sky. Now the ice is melting and the animals are dying. Sophie’s mother is also dead, leaving behind a daughter and a lover on the melting permafrost.

An Orchid Astronomy is the story of Sophie, of her personal trauma and of climate catastrophe, told in striking experimental poetry. Crossing poetic styles and genres, words and sentences flow and break, twist into images, and cluster together like the Arctic stars. Coming together in a sustained narrative, these poems ask how we grapple with magnificent loss, searching for solutions in science, in mythology, in storytelling and ultimately, in our relived memories.

Challenging, powerful, and beautiful, An Orchid Astronomy wrestles with the grief we feel for the loss of those we love and grief for the changing world. In the language of mass extinction and the unknowable sky, Tasnuva Hayden fearlessly explores the nuances of personal collapse, sublimated desire, unfulfilled longing, and the ways we must move forward in the face of the impossible in poetry that dazzles like the moon on a midwinter night.

About the Author

Tasnuva Hayden is a Canadian writer based in Calgary, Alberta, where she works as a consulting engineer and editor for filling Station, Canada’s experimental literary magazine. Her work has appeared in Nōd Magazine, J’aipur Journal, Anti-Lang, carte blanche, Qwerty, and more.

Praise for An Orchid Astronomy

Tasnuva Hayden’s debut book of poetry defies every convention of written verse with inventive new forms of visionary lyricism . . . There is a beauty, a terrible beauty to this fragmentary assemblage where orchids and constellations, polar bears and underage affairs, suicide, murder and global warming share the same collision course with mass extinction.

—Dianne Chisholm, Alberta Views

Hayden composes her Orchid as a sequence of lyric pinpoints, lines set as constellation across the page, linking stars to further starts to form her images, her stories; enough to hold the world together, simultaneously brief and sketched and across the vastness of narrative time.

—rob mclennan, DUSIE

Hayden reflects a young person’s desperately sincere attempts to situate herself (and the frail details of her life) like a small celestial body among far larger, quasi-universal truths, as the loneliness of the landscape and the coming apocalypse bear down upon her.

—Jade Wallace, CAROUSEL

[An] ambitious debut collection . . . With so many lyrics that absoloutely sing.

—Diego Báez, Harriet Books

Like a gravitational force, Tasnuva Hayden pulls readers to the outermost reaches of space where stars die, planets orbit, and we reach “the final boundaries of stellar observation.” At the same time, Hayden’s poems zoom us into the smaller parts of existing with clothespins, teapots, and milk teeth in freezer bags. Hayden’s collection occupies a macro- and micro-space to make meaning out of “those small bits of dialogue pressed between book covers” in a way readers will not soon forget.

—Amy Leblanc, author of Unlocking

It’s remarkable to read along the faint contours of this narrative, while being cast against images that are so confounding, sudden, and engineered so beautifully. An Orchid Astronomy is an unsettling holy art, to be sure, where the personal and collective griefs are clustered. It is also a poetry that offers an exit to a tired form, an instrument that cuts our bonds to its old constellations. But there is no elegy here, as it lays a new, better framework, and opens the reader to a thousand different ways to embark

—Paul Zits, author of I Wish I Could Be Peter Falk

From fox and narwhal to Sarvvis and Polaris, from arctic beaches to ambiguous lovers, Tasnuva Hayden’s precise sharp sentences and gorgeous fragments chart a mournful expanse. “From a star system to a cesium atom,” An Orchid Astronomy draws everything in.

—Natalie Simpson, Author of Thrum

Shortlisted - Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry | 2023