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Openwork and Limestone

Frontenac House

November 2022

From the publisher: “Openwork and Limestone is a finely-wrought and potent new poetry collection from one of Canada’s most compelling poets. In Frances Boyle’s powerful vision, the rituals of contemporary women are seen through the lens of Celtic warrior queens, and goddesses. The natural and created worlds—as they run, as Boyle says, “through the funnel / of my palms”—are a constant source of awe and woman’s strength. A reverie that allows in the brutality of history and prehistory, as well as the joys. “The unconscious / swimming upward. What won’t stay buried rises / through rocks, rough-ridden and rusty.” Boyle’s Openwork and Limestone turns inward and outward at the same time, telling our multifarious collective human story so that it feels like our own intimate family history.”


Advance praise for Openwork and Limestone!

  • Frances Boyle’s Openwork and Limestone is aptly named, full of poems that are bare and searing, and rooted in place and time. These imagistic poems allow the reader-listener to journey with the speaker across various landscapes, questioning and searching. Running through this book is the tension of a body caught between cogitation and wildness: in these pages is a longing to feel fully alive in the body – a yearning to be with and know the world intimately, physically, viscerally. Here too are reflections on relation: mother and daughter, daughter with father, sister to sister. Precious here is a way for us to move through this complex and fleeting world: “Balance / eludes me until I begin / to feel part of a larger mass / ages of river-work.”

              ~ Doyali Islam, author of Heft

  • In Openwork and Limestone, Frances Boyle collapses the past and present to allow myth to inform lived experience and magic to mingle with family history. At these intersections “[a] stitch in rhyme keeps time.” Boldly intuitive, Boyle’s poetry thrums with kinetic energy while offering narratives that branch out with considerable vision.

                ~ Jim Johnstone, author of Infinity Network

  • Art, close-work, sites of memory, and mothering: with patterned reflection and recognition, the poems of Openwork and Limestone share lyric forms that move across time and space in conversation with nature, kin, and the ancients with ceremonial care. Empathetic and insightful. Roaming, embodied, and firmly with the earth.

                 ~ Hoa Nguyen, author of A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure

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Seeking Shade

The Porcupine's Quill

August 2020

ISBN-13: 9780889844353

My first collection of short stories.

"From the publisher: "A haunted mother is terrorized by spectral visions of twins. A young academic reminisces on the past, and a long-lost film, as she watches her apartment building burn. A carefree woman tears through Toronto dance halls during the second World War... Demonstrating both a skilled restraint and poetic flair, Boyle lifts her subjects from troubled, complicated lives to ask hard questions of themselves and, ultimately, be redeemed."


This White Nest

Quattro Books

Fall 2019


"In trees illuminated against sky,

one reverse-image nest, and another

—each a distinct knot, but branch

is joined to branch. They diverge

in astonishment."

My second collection of poetry, This White Nest continues to explore  shadows and absences, the human and natural worlds while also shifting focus to other settings, employing and engaging with voices that are more archetypal and/or universal. Many of the poems touch on ghosts, memory and some grief.


Fish Gotta Swim Editions, June 1,  2018

ISBN  978-0-9780054-6-7​

From the publisher: "The night the Mounties came, my sleep had already been disturbed by a small but insistent wail coming from the garden below my bedroom window.

There was a baby in my cabbage patch.

And so begins the tale of Arlys, who grows vegetables and roses, and Chicory, the baby she adopts and nurtures in a farmhouse on a small coastal island. Can she keep Chicory safe forever or will the girl eventually fall in love with a damaged prince, will the carefully constructed edifice of motherhood and care survive or collapse, taking the roses down with it? Is there a happy ending for Chicory, for Torque, the edgy street artist who makes dark and beautiful murals in chalk, only to see them wash away in rain? Tower is a modern fable, an intricate tapestry of longing and danger, its pattern shifting over time and place, the tendrils ready to wrap us into its story. "

“Frances Boyle has the clear eye of a poet, along with a discerning ear for dialogue and a fine sense of story-telling. Combining these writerly qualities with careful understanding and compassion for her characters, she brings them vividly to life in this moving rendition of an old tale. Brilliant!”
 - Isabel Huggan

Frances Boyle Light-carved Passages cover

."... A beam

swings up a hill, makes sculpture of the clouds, 

carves out the road, bulky, solid. ...

You want to live forever with your family in the space

within the passage carved by light. "

(from "Momentum" )

Light-carved Passages
BuschekBooks November 2014
  • ISBN-10: 1894543823

  • ISBN-13: 978-1894543828

From the publisher: "The poems knot and weave, tracing connections through tangles of family histories and paths along rivers. Shadows and absences permeate the collection as does an intensity of personal focus... a quest to fill lacks by divining their true names, while acknowledging the implacable tenacity of the unnameable."

"An overall composure to the writing gives her words a rare dash of grace. But make no mistake, there's a heart that can break here as well, a vulnerability that makes the lines shimmer with tension" - Barry Dempster

"... a rich, rewarding collection of poems that range from lyrical snapshots of daily life to disarmingly honest and deeply potent ghost-walks into the heart's dark, forbidden zones." - John Steffler

"Key elements of the collection ... firm narrative, intensely personal voice, rich imagery, masterful line-breaks and a subtle attention to sound." - Rob Thomas

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Apples and Roses
above/ground press
June 2019


cover art by Manahil Bandukwala

"You dissolved off the screen, Dot as child and young woman, mom to us, 
I’d seek you hard in fairy tale quest, task the gaff-rigged Dorothy to spell

your name Dorothy, in the semaphore of her sails, (plant a rose for me)
launching from time-rocked ocean to tangled notion of wooden ship 

and flying house whirlpooled in its funnel cloud, banging wind, the pull 
of the tale, and the round table where Mrs. Parker drawled about girls 

who wear glasses and Marie of Romania, her wit a charm to the circle of wits
vicious through they were, the round table of that New York moment, 

while you were a girl in Toronto. Come night you vanished into the shapeless, 
the ready intake of breath. Angels brought three apples, three roses, my purpose."

Frances Boyle - Portal Stones cover
Portal Stones
Tree Press / The Tree Reading Series
June 2014


This chapbook was the winner of the Tree Reading Series chapbook competition. It is concerned with liminal spaces, with entryways, with 'portals'.

"The poems in Portal Stones are personal and particular, evoking certain rooms and moods, certain rivers and roads, and certain members of a certain family; but while the subject matter is local and sometimes 'pebble-small' as the poet puts it, there is an expansive, even adventurous metaphorical intelligence at work here, fanning out to explore the wider connections that run between one thing and another." -- Bruce Taylor, contest judge

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