Finalist, Trillium Book Award for Poetry


A polyphonic assemblage of fragments, Masque engages media constructs and the flesh in methodically built layers painstakingly stripped away. A cast of characters interrogates Author, Performer and Audience—public and private personae revealing traces of veiled knowledge. The narrative lines coil inward: tautening. Just when it seems too much, the traces perform a type of reparation: held cumulatively, then released, again and again.

Rachel Zolf’s Masque is a fabulous antidote to the high moralism of the tediously common family-implosion narrative. I’d call this gem-like layered book space poetry, where text shatters the page and the speaking subject, the bits of received family wisdom—and wisdom’s progenitors—exploding in black and grey like the Tower in the Tarot deck. Masque hides a greater promise of love and communication than any teleological narrative long poem. Original, intelligent and courageous. —Gail Scott

Masque is an unnerving text, part polemic, part cri de coeur: the scattered lines, the violently interrupted voices, whispering, shouting, jostling one another, the traumatic past and reflective present painfully and inextricably bound together, add up to a charged battle for new relational and iterative ground. Here is where a formidable history of trauma gets turned around, in a woman’s fierce, playful standoff with it, transformed by her rage and love. —Di Brandt

Calling Masque a straightforward bildungsroman would be like calling Brossard’s Mauve Desert a travel book. Masque is a rich and layered confection as informed by linguistic playfulness as it is by the confessional. Zolf proves that there are ways to write about the familiar and the familial that handily defeat both terms. —R.M. Vaughan