A Map of Rain Days long listed for The League of Canadian Poets 2021 Pat Lowther Memorial Award

A Map of Rain Days — Collection


“My mother’s toes are / crooked and curled / in a misguided, arthritic map / of rain days,” writes Jennifer Hosein in the eponymous poem of her debut collection, A Map of Rain Days. In these lines there is a conflation of body and world, but also of space and time. Time becomes an entity that is spatially translatable and cartographically organizable. This is a conceit that manifests in a variety of ways over the course of the book, with the speaker’s personal history folding, unfolding, refolding in non-chronological complexity, often as not invoked by a particular locale being seen or remembered. Like rain, which comes and goes, is here and not, but is always, always (and necessarily) returning, the speaker’s suffering is not presented as a phenomenon that she will progress beyond or definitively escape from. There is no world without rain, and trauma is a recurrent (but never ceaseless or omnipresent) element of the speaker’s environment. Alternating between vivacious and restrained, Hosein’s poems are alive to the panoply of human experience.

A Map of Rain Days

A Map of Rain Days invites us into the liminal between the nights and the “too-bright days.” The author navigates a life felt full on, inhabiting all its beauty and shadows — the “slap-tumble” of sex, “the mean streets of the suburbs,” “the swill and gore” of youth. Interwoven into this life are the realities of racism, addiction, suicide, rape, and death. And then clarity ensues.

Brandon Pitts' review of A Map of Rain Days

Jennifer Hosein has established herself as an artist brave enough to harness the full spectrum of the feminine struggle. With her first collection of poems, A Map of Rain Days, she has commanded all of her artistic experience into verse, illuminating the sorrow of loss, the physical ecstasy of love, the horror of abuse, and the strength to heal and make peace with happiness—often within the same work.

Brandon Pitts, author of Tender in the Age of Fury and In the Company of Crows

Padmaja Reddy’s Goodreads review of A Map of Rain Days

‘A Map of Rain Days’ by Jennifer Hosein narrates vivid experiences encompassing love, exile, romance and history. Her tone is powerful and bruised.

Most of the poems in the First section are crafted ‘Mother’ as the central point. Those include ‘Heart’, ‘January’, ‘Breath’.

Beautiful expressions like ‘Beloved Mother is a clipped-winged bird that floats around in lace’, ‘Walking down in corridors in mother’s bruised shoes’ charm the readers.

Mother and daughter gift words to each other every day in ‘Waiting’. And the daughter has no place left to put the sorrow handed by the mother.

Violence in love is painted so brilliant – ‘when your words knock me to the floor, I pick up the pieces and walk away.’

Love for mother and daughter as well as loss of a dear friend, American election, racism become central themes of certain poems.

Jennifer’s style is affluent and sensuous.

Ivy Reiss'(The Artis Magazine) review of A Map of Rain Days

Jennifer Hosein’s poetry is relevant, emotional, evocative, and beautiful. Jennifer’s poetry shows us what it’s like to be a person of colour in Canada without allowing identity to overshadow poetic craft. Her work combines the power of short story with the music of poetry, invoking the ubiquitous human experiences of losing people we love and finding our place in the world. Jennifer Hosein’s debut collection A Map of Rain Days at once illustrates the commonality and alienation that is characteristic of contemporary existence. We know Jennifer as a visual artist, now it is time to meet her as a poet.
—Ivy Reiss, The Artis magazine, Sept 02, 2020.

Amy’s Goodreads review of A Map of Rain Days

A Map Of Rain Days by Jennifer Hosein is filled with the harshness of life. The truth behind the facade. The pure realities of love and loss, and transformation.

These poems by Ms. Hosein evoked such emotion. I became fully immersed in her writing. Her poetry resonated with me in such a way that I could not look away. I had to continue reading. The intensity was palpable. I believe this book to be a work of art. Wonderfully done.



Ari’s Goodreads review of A Map of Rain Days

I had never read Hosein before this book, so I wasn’t really sure what I was in for. And well, I still am not sure what it was that this book has done to me, but my heart feels brutalized in the most welcome of ways.

My brother
has no time
for the heart-breakingness
of the old

and I have no place left
to put the sorrow
she hands to me.

The poems in this collection are each a culmination of the mundane pain we all feel everyday, and yet Hosein writes it such that you are introduced to it altogether anew. In Waitingwe are met with a mother awaiting her son, and the daughter forgotten save for the company she provides, and I find it so beautifully heart-wrenching. Wedding Day gave me the goosebumps at how savage it can be to ache.

There are some pieces that are more abstract than the others, and I love them too because of my love for abstract poetry, and there are some that are just so concrete and cutting that you could bleed on them.

Hosein here has written a brilliant collection that pulls at your heart and chews at its strings, only to leave you winded once you’re through with the book.


Eindra Lin’s Goodreads review of A Map of Rain Days

this is a seriously beautiful collection of fragile poems. the imagery in here is fantastic and hosein’s style and voice are so unique. these poems are like bruises in the way that it doesn’t hurt if you run over it lightly but the second you press in just a bit deeper the wound begins to sting. there is a real fragility and delicacy in the way hosein paints love and history and relationships and family. it feels so brutal but soft at the same time. i loveddd hosein’s imagery and metaphors it was so realistic yet intricately whimsical.

Brenda Clew's blurb for A Map of Rain Days

A Map of Rain Days chronicles a life of loves and losses in tender, surreal, striking metaphors that limn a body tattooed with fragments of a life, a body whose “skin” is “opened/like slicing a peach.” Like “the sweet odour of chocolate,” Jennifer’s poems are rich, sensual with a simplicity that belies dense under-layers of sadness, of love for a mother, a daughter, of memories of an abusive relationship that still scars, of the taunts and cruelties a girl of colour in a white world endures. These haunting poems become like “sparks” that “consume … a forest” of contemplation on the ways a life of a contemporary woman is composed. This is a collection to savour.
Brenda Clews, author of Tidal Fury and Fugue in Green

The Malahat Review: New & Noteworthy - New Canadian Books on our shelf

Review space may be limited in our quarterly magazine, but we’re delighted to share this list of new books received.

(click on the image for the link)


Anna T.’s Goodreads review of A Map of Rain Days

I devoured the book in one sitting. I woke up, and I reread it, revisiting some poems that spoke to my soul. It’s an emotional, intimate collection of poems covering several diverse topics, including the death of a loved one, being in love, suicide, racism, loneliness. The book is divided into chapters. It feels like the poet is holding our hand, inviting us on a journey with her, allowing us to discover different chapters of her life.

There were so many poems I loved in this collection. To name a few: ” I love You”, “Widow”,
” Oubliette”, “Vessel”, ” Poison-Drunk”, “Fists”, ” Cabin”, “Subterfuge”, “Used to”, “History”, “Weekend”, “Ebb”, “Mouth”, “Crow’s Feet”, “Romance”, “Song”, Leap Day”, “Fall”, “Ink”, “Unfamiliar”, “Mon Pays”, “Milk”, “Pacific”, “Fog”, “Dead Boys”, “Conductor”.

The poems that I identified a lot with were the ones talking about problematic romantic relationships, relationships where emotions of sadness were the norm, relationships where darkness prevailed, relationships that leave a deep mark on the soul, a mark that you struggle to get rid of ( ” Mouth”: I reach/into the back/of my mouth/ to pull pieces of you/out).
This kind of love tricks you, inviting you in with the promise of passion, emptying your soul, poisoning you ( Fall: ” Once you were air/then you were cinders/that I spat up now/and then),
and scattering your pieces in the ocean ( Pacific: ” When you swim with her ashes in the Pacific/ her kiss tucks you back/ into the swirling ruckus/she left behind”).
You struggle to break free but the scars are there ( Crow’s feet: “Inked on my face/are shadows that you left/behind, imprints/ of your lovers’ hands ) and you have to constantly fight to break free, to breathe again ( Fall: ” …to pull pieces of you/ out. But they stick/ so I choke and fumble), to not end up living for him, disappearing into nothingness ( History: ” Look at me/on his bed/History/ will not untie me/His story, always his/story. Someone’s his/ story).

The poem “Oubliette” sounds like a dark fairy tale, the image of a trapped man, waiting for the reward of his patience: his love to be reciprocated. This never happens. When the woman decides she is ready to give back, he has disappeared.

p. 104
” She put him in the oubliette and locked it…. Finally she came, to collect his love, but he had turned to dust”

The poem “Poison-Drunk” describes how deeply the scars of betrayal hurt and how difficult it is to trust other people and yourself

p. 100
” You say,
Believe me it won’t hurt
I never believe you.
I sit up awaiting

In the poem “Unfamiliar” the writer wonders how her parents managed to grow roots in a foreign place. She wishes she had asked them to share with her this wisdom, this inner strength she needs to feel connected to this land.

p. 45 ” I wish I has asked.
Tell me about my skin…
How did my father learn to put his feet down
on unfamiliar soil?
My mother’s steps
had a ring to them of certainty. She knew.
I did not”

I would recommend this hauntingly beautiful collection of poems by Jennifer Hosein to everyone.

(click on the image for the link to Goodreads)