Standard candles

Like the ever-widening universe, Standard candles expands on Alice Major’s earlier themes of family, mythology, and cosmology, teasing out subtle wonders in form and subject. Her voice resonates through experiments with old and new poetic forms as she imbues observed and imagined phenomena—from the centres of galaxies to the mysteries of her own backyard—with the most grounded and grounding moments of human experience. In Standard candles, readers will find an emotional dimension that seamlessly intersects with the dimensions of space and time. Fans of Alice Major will enjoy seeing her work through familiar themes, while readers new to her poetry will discover unexplored universes.

Alice Major emigrated from Scotland at the age of eight, and grew up in Toronto before coming west to work as a weekly newspaper reporter. She served as Edmonton’s first poet laureate and has been inducted into the city’s cultural hall of fame. A widely-published author, she has won many distinctions. Her most recent book is Intersecting Sets: A Poet Looks at Science, which received the Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction as well as a National Magazine Award gold medal. Her website is

Let us compare cosmologies

There is a beginning and a middle.
There is an arc of narrative.
There is a word, a large engraved initial.
There is imperative—
a cause, a god. Or not.
There is an end. A purpose.
Or maybe none. There is a plot
with reasons, reason. There is a circus,
a theatre stage of space and time.
There are equations at the bottom
or the top. There is a pantheon
of matter, motion, scattered photons.
And the questions every universe expects:
what came before? What happens next?