The Sleep Orchard

Amy Dennis

ISBN 9781771262804

$18.00 CDN/USA 124 pages

The Sleep Orchard is a collection of poetry written in response to the life and artwork of Arshile Gorky. By mapping the differences as well as the deepening intersections between Gorky and the author, these poems highlight the complexities inherent in attempting to understand another’s life and art within the frame of one’s own consciousness. In addition to meditating on various paintings and the subsequent thoughts they inspire, the text shifts between reflection, recollection, description, confessionalism, and collage, ultimately carving an intimate trajectory through history, memory,
vibrancy, and loss.

“What is it to stand before one of Arshile Gorky’s paintings with a ‘hand close to his canvas and feel a bit /of wing’? In The Sleep Orchard, Amy Dennis inhabits Gorky’s paintings, his loves, and his explosive past in a compelling way, with the contemporary world as counterpoint. Her richly imagined poems are both searing and sensuous. This is a powerful debut.”

—Anne Simpson

The Sleep Orchard is a magical punch of language threaded with pigment in which Amy Dennis skilfully cross-sections a complex colour-rich life. This is poetry as chromatography—separating out the elements of an artist. Tied to flora and fauna, Gorky is both protagonist and reflecting pool. This is a beautiful and necessary work.”

—Christine McNair



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