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Cruise Missile Liberals Paperback – Oct. 14 2017

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Spencer Gordon’s poetry debut, Cruise Missile Liberals, might be the oddball balm you need … Gordon’s poems are completely submerged in the zany, disturbing thick of it … Gordon doesn’t just question the place of poetry (here in an overtly political Canadian context), he interrogates the role of the poet as a citizen, directly implicating himself in the critique. ― Domenica Martinello, The Globe and Mail

Gordon displays an acerbic wit and a knack for nifty turns of phrase as he takes satirical aim at the absurdities of life in consumer society and our obsession with celebrity ... He can be cheekily funny ...
Cruise Missile Liberals offers plenty of laughs, but it's also got heart. ― Barbara Carey, Toronto Star

Cruise Missile Liberals is a complex and accomplished first collection from a writer who has honed his voice by listening. Gordon's examination of the self in late capitalism is not always optimistic but is, in its humanity, enormously affirming. ― Stevie Howell, Quill & Quire Published On: 2022-10-05

The poems in Spencer Gordon's
Cruise Missile Liberals survey political, corporate and pop-culture landscapes (so often one and the same) and comment sadly on their devastation, while never forgetting how great Taylor Swift used to be ... [A book of] disturbing, wry intelligence ... [and] taut, careful craft. ― Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press

Here, nothing is insular ...
Cruise Missile Liberals interacts with the local, the national, and the global with the clout of popular culture and late capitalism. The poetry community is placed in conversation with the Trudeau government, with Instagram, with Facebook, with Hillary, and with Donald ... [It] delivers a complex picture of the present. It is a collection brimming with tongue-in-cheek lyrical excessiveness. And nothing short of unapologetic for an author's poetry debut in Canadian literature. ― Philippe Pamela Dungao, Broken Pencil Magazine

Spencer Gordon remarks on "the way flat and tepid coke can slake thirst." That line, with its wild variation of vowels banging against the steady alliteration of
ts and ks, is indicative of how good his ear can be in Cruise Missile Liberals. But it might be even more indicative of the book's aesthetics of low expectations. As you might guess from the title, there's anger in the book, but as the title perhaps also suggests, that anger is not going to get in the way of harmless fun. ― Tim Conley, Canadian Literature

When Gordon takes his foot off of the brakes he speeds into some beautifully hellish chaos; when it breaks his previously calm surface ripples over all of us. These poems are a new type of missile ... This is heart-wrenching and powerful stuff.
Cruise Missile Liberals is full of marvellous stuff. ― Michael Dennis, Today's Book of Poetry

This debut collection includes poems that play, rant, combine anxiety with ambitious experiment, and incorporate invented lyrical content with found material, to very funny and often despairing effect. ―
Prairie Books Now

Spencer Gordon's
Cruise Missile Liberals is, as its title suggests, a very funny, often despairing book. Jammed with on-point pop and breathtaking turns of phrase, this collection of poems is genuinely compelling: it is hard to stop reading, so sweetly twisted is Gordon's world. ― Lynn Crosbie, author of Where Did You Sleep Last Night, Life Is About Losing Everything and Liar

There is a generosity of spirit on offer here for we who are tired, placeless, saturated in social media, and wasted on the bright horror of a future that never arrives. This collection is deft, intelligent, and tender, if tenderness is something that can also crush you⁠―an intimacy that panics shut. For we who are "Nature Woke," "alchemical kids with gold teeth," "wanting to live as I do, shockingly new," Gordon sings and memes against "Canada the Good" and presents us with an arresting portrait of our present moment. ―
Liz Howard, Griffin-Award-winning author of Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent

Cruise Missile Liberals could easily be called Late Capitalism. Spencer Gordon voices the anger and dejection that many of us feel as we survey the detritus of our political and corporate ideologies and attempt to find an alternative to the cultural crack that has previously pacified us. But Gordon does not patronize us with false hope. "There is no system to replace the ruling system," he writes in "Ticker Tape." Elsewhere, he notifies us: "If you are crying, you are not winning. There is no good living." As a solution: "You should burn down your life." Like an excitable social media stream, these poems persist to the point of "sincere emotional fatigue" yet somehow Gordon manages to make an art of exhaustion, an art of the rant. Reading Gordon's poetry and fiction, one feels caught in a Mobius strip where life and entertainment loop infinitely into each other. We are sometimes ourselves and sometimes we are Taylor Swift, Avril Lavigne, and Peppa Pig. Or they are us, our teetering elected representatives. ― Ian Williams, author of Reproduction (winner of the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize) and Personals (shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize)

About the Author

Spencer Gordon is the author of a yet-untitled book of poetry-fiction hybrid works from House of Anansi Press, to be released in spring 2024. He is also the author of the poetry collection Cruise Missile Liberals (Nightwood Editions, 2017) and the short story collection Cosmo (Coach House Books, 2012). He co-founded and edited the literary journal The Puritan for a decade and has taught writing at Humber College, OCAD University, George Brown College and the University of Toronto. He now lives in Bowmanville, Ontario, and works as the Senior Research Editor for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO). For more info, visit his website at

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Nightwood Editions (Oct. 14 2017)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 96 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0889713332
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0889713338
  • Item weight ‏ : ‎ 131 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 22.56 x 0.53 x 15.24 cm

About the author

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Spencer Gordon is the author of an upcoming hybrid work of fiction-poetry with House of Anansi Press (Spring 2024), the recent poetry collection *Cruise Missile Liberals* (Nightwood Editions, 2017), one of CBC’s “16 Poetry Books to Watch,” and the short story collection *Cosmo* (Coach House Books, 2012).

To the Winnipeg Free Press, Cruise Missile Liberals showcases a “disturbing, wry intelligence … [and] taut, careful craft.” The Toronto Star writes that it “offers plenty of laughs, but it’s also got heart.” The Globe and Mail claims that it’s “completely submerged in the zany, disturbing thick of it … [and] might be the oddball balm you need.” In a starred review, Quill and Quire comments: “Cruise Missile Liberals is a complex and accomplished first collection from a writer who has honed his voice by listening. Gordon’s examination of the self in late capitalism is not always optimistic but is, in its humanity, enormously affirming.” And to Broken Pencil, it is “nothing short of unapologetic for an author’s poetry debut in Canadian literature.”

The acclaimed short story collection Cosmo (Coach House Books, 2012) has been called “startling and invigorating” (and “Canada’s Most Underrated Book”) by Quill and Quire, “rare [and] brave” by the National Post, “poignant and hilarious” by This Magazine, “both heartwarming and heartbreaking” by The Winnipeg Review, and “both ridiculous and absolutely perfect” by The Walrus.

Spencer also wrote the poetry chapbooks Anno Zombie Dance (Emergency Response Unit, 2016), Conservative Majority (Apt. 9, 2013) and Feel Good! Look Great! Have a Blast! (Ferno House, 2011, shortlisted for the 2012 bpNichol Chapbook Award). He is one of CBC Books’ Writers to Watch and the winner of a CBC Book Award for Cosmo.

He is co-founder and was senior editor of the ten-year-old magazine The Puritan, one of the country’s premier literary journals (nominated for a National Magazine Award and a regular submitter to Best Canadian Poetry and The Journey Prize). He often serves as a reader and judge for university publications (such as the University of Toronto Magazine), literary magazines (like The Antigonish Review), national prizes (like the CBC Short Story Prize), and arts councils (namely, the Canada Council for the Arts). His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail, the National Post, the Toronto Star, EVENT, THIS Magazine, Poetry Is Dead, The Winnipeg Review, CNQ, Broken Pencil, Joyland, and many other periodicals and anthologies, including Best Canadian Sports Writing (ECW, 2017).

He holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto and a BA in English and Philosophy from the University of Ottawa, and he has taught writing, both professional and creative, at OCAD University, George Brown College, Humber College, and with the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. From 2015 to early 2018, he worked as the senior writer for The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau; from 2018 to early 2020, he was the Communications Manager for Scout Environmental; from April 2020 to September 2021, he was Communications Specialist for the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT). He is now the Senior Research Editor for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO), based in Toronto (the traditional lands of the Mississaugas of the New Credit, Huron-Wendat, Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and other peoples).

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