Float and Scurry
Toronto, ON: Anvil Press Publishers, October 7, 2019

Float and Scurry - Heather BirrellIn acclaimed short-fiction writer Heather Birrell’s rollicking debut full-length poetry collection, Mr. T, Joni Mitchell, Fidel Castro, and the poet’s mother (among others) barge in to distract and derail the poet’s dreams. The poems in this book are playful, hallucinatory, and often funny. They explore the far-fetchedness and perseverance of love between friends and family members, the importance of libraries and locked mental health wards, and ways to live with meaning in the face of a looming apocalypse.

Birrell’s poetry lines-weaving through an acrobatic breadth of forms and tones-are both precise and plainspoken, and showcase an odd, intuitive logic, embracing the surrealism of this world we’re stuck in.


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Mad Hope
Toronto, ON: Coach House, 2012.

In the stories of Mad Hope, Journey Prize winner Heather Birrell finds the heart of her characters and lets them lead us into worlds both recognizable and alarming. A science teacher and former doctor is forced to re-examine the role he played in Ceausescu’s Romania after a student makes a shocking request; a tragic plane crash becomes the basis for a meditation on motherhood and its discontents; women in an online chat group share (and overshare) their anxieties and personal histories; and a chance encounter in a waiting room tests the ties that bind us.

Using precise, inventive language, Birrell creates astute and empathetic portraits of people we thought we knew – and deftly captures the lovely, maddening mess of being human.

This is a beautiful book: funny, whip-smart, compassionate, and gorgeously written. Heather Birrell belongs in the short story pantheon with Alice Munro, Lisa Moore, and Zsuzsi Gartner.
– Annabel Lyon

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I know you are but what am I?
Toronto, ON: Coach House, 2004.

Kleptomaniacs, convicts, roof-walkers and homicidal hippies: here are children and adults, men and women, all struggling to define themselves. The stories in I know you are but what am I? are like snow domes – perfect little self-contained worlds that you can hold in your hand, turn upside down, shake until meaning settles in a hundred different ways. Young Misha learns about the complexities of grownup love when his mother is bitten by a stingray. Oldrick must come to terms with his ex-girlfriend’s new lover and a belligerent barista in the midst of a smelly garbage strike. Bus-bound Marion, in love with a married man, finds solace in conversation with a convict and home-schooled Rational gets a tutor and learns that his ‘hunker in the bunker’ family isn’t quite what he thought it was.

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The M WordThe M Word Conversations about Motherhood
Dropped Threads-style anthology, assembling original and inspiring works by some of Canada’s best younger female writers — such as Heather Birrell, Saleema Nawaz, Susan Olding, Diana Fitzgerald Bryden, Carrie Snyder, and Alison Pick — The M Word asks everyday women and writers, some of whom are on the unconventional side of motherhood, to share their emotions and tales of maternity.
Toronto, Goose Lane Editions, April  2014


Toronto Noir
Original Noir Anthology. Akashic Noir. 2008

The Journey Prize Anthology 18
Short Fiction from the Best of Canada’s New Writers. Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart, 2006

She Writes, Love, Spaghetti, and Other Stories
Toronto, ON: Second Story Press, 2002.

The Journey Prize Anthology 13
Short Fiction from the Best of Canada’s New Writers. Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart, 2001.