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The Affirmations by Luke Hathaway

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2024 SPARKS Literary Festival Featured Title!


This is a story, writes Luke Hathaway, of transformation. It is a death. It is a birth. / Birth, of course, is very terrible: what can survive it? His fourth collection, and first since Years, Months, and Days, a New York Times Best Poetry Book of 2018, The Affirmations is a work of trans poetics in the most radical sense. Begun in motherhood, in an experience of birth as an experience of affirmation, and continued through Hathaway’s transition, The Affirmations is a rerelationing with self and other, elder and myth. It’s a book about what happened when Hathaway fell in love—and about what happened when love shot the messenger.

Praise for The Affirmations

“These are masterful, musical poems about faith and transformation, by one of our best contemporary poets.”
—Jason Guriel, for the Globe and Mail

“There is a feeling of it being out of time […] he has always been a master of the formal […] anyone who likes deep poetry that is alluding to other things in previous literatures is going to love this book.”
—CBC The Next Chapter

“Mainstream poetry counts as nonconformist compared with popular culture, but it nevertheless develops its own conformities. For something completely different, look to publishing beyond these shores. Luke Hathaway, a Canadian trans poet, offers just such a point of difference. Influenced by John Donne and George Herbert, and above all by TS Eliot’s Four Quartets, Hathaway constructs small marvels of what one poem here calls ‘loving jugglery’: a feast of transformations.”
—The Times

“Luke Hathaway has captured how we survive and thrive by chance, by lucky accident. These spare lines take the reader on a profound journey with the speaker.”
—Brecken Hancock, 2021 Confederation Poets Prize judge

“The depth of references offers opportunities for entry and distance alike. Ranging freely across centuries of works, sacred and secular, Hathaway’s book, published last week, is as deftly conversant with John Donne as with Auden, as expert in its command of music, metrical and lexical as the maritime landscape. […] The object […] of The Affirmations, is not simply reifying what has come before, but challenging, re-imagining, and reclaiming what has been made into a tool of oppression.”
—Holly M. Wendt, Ploughshares

“Hathaway’s poetry collection arrives at just the right time. The Affirmations’ silvery, dew-laced spiderweb of intricacy and intimacy connect us simultaneously to myth, futurism and matters of the heart.”
The Tyee

“This time around, Hathaway delivers the story of ‘the love that rewired his being’ through lyrical poems that lean into the possibilities presented by small-f faith and transformation.”
—The Coast

“This is a book that will be read and reread by those attuned to its pleasures. For myself, I can only say it could have gone on forever; once I entered the mental world created by The Affirmations, I never wanted to leave it.”
—Able Muse

“Hathaway seems to explore the boundaries of poetic form as it relates to an operatic storytelling, pushing at the edges of older forms with a new hand, and a new eye, and seeing what just might be possible.”
—rob mclennan

The Affirmations evocatively asks us to examine this imperfect world in a way that leaves us vulnerable with each other and the earth, alongside Luke.”
—Shalan Joudry, author of Elapultiek

‘Like his biblical namesake, [Luke Hathaway] offers his own accounting, and so heralds a trans-mystical work of love and change. Driven equally by philia, eros and agape, his poetry pushes for more: more darkness, so you’ll attend your light; more light, so you’ll attend your darkness.”
—Ali Blythe, author of Hymnswitch


Luke Hathaway is a trans poet who teaches English and Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s University in Kjipuktuk/Halifax. He is the author of four collections of poems, and of many works in other genres.