My Books in print
The Porcupine's Quill
Coming - Spring 2024
"From the publisher: "Skin Hunger tells two stories in counterpoint: the story of Rowan, a young activist who crusades for animal liberation to compensate for a dearth of emotional comfort and physical connection, and that of Evie, Rowan’s mother, whose struggles with mental illness and substance abuse have long kept the family apart.
Rowan Shea has spent her life looking for warmth and comfort. Separated for years from her mentally ill mother, she seeks fulfilment in caring for sick and injured animals, and connection through a string of casual hook-ups. After losing her job as a vet tech, Rowan finds a renewed sense of belonging and direction when she falls in with a group of animal rights activists and moves into their ramshackle farm on the outskirts of Vancouver. Soon, impatient with their inaction and petty disputes, Rowan forges new friendships and creates her own opportunities for protest, until she learns that the activists are targeting a university lab performing experiments on rhesus monkeys—and considering more extreme action.
In another time and another place, Rowan’s mother, Evie, struggles with the conviction that her very essence will harm her delicate baby. After numerous stays in a psychiatric hospital, Evie becomes convinced that her daughter is better off without her cursed touch. Lonely yet wary of forging deep connections, Evie undertakes the challenge of building a new life on her own terms.
Skin Hunger tells the story of a mother and daughter, starved for nurturing and compassion, as they struggle to find a home in the world, one that, despite decades apart, might bring them back together.
Openwork and Limestone
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.”
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
The Porcupine's Quill
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
"In trees illuminated against sky,
one reverse-image nest, and another
—each a distinct knot, but branch
is joined to branch. They diverge
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
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