“Poetry to me is an open-ended dialogue.” So says Kingston writer Ashley-Elizabeth Best, whose debut collection, Slow States of Collapse, was released this year. Despite her relatively young age, Ashley-Elizabeth has become a familiar voice in local literary circles. Her work can be seen in Fjords Review, Tampa Review, CV2, The Columbia Review, Berfrois, The Rusty Toque, The Battersea Review, The Puritan, Zouch Magazine, Grist, and Branch Magazine, among other publications. Recently she was shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry.
Ashley-Elizabeth’s work explores familiar, common, and universal struggles, and the process of adapting to these challenges. Slow States of Collapse “presents a world that is at once menacing and full of wonder and grace. It’s a poetry of ‘casual cruelty’ and ‘kisses like / puncture wounds,’ of ‘something too tender to touch’ and ‘the threat of an intense beauty.’ In this collection, illness confronts bedside manners while a migrant restlessness also paints remarkable portraits of shifting self-image, and in the process the nature of personal and political power is reimagined.”
Ashley-Elizabeth is originally from Cobourg, Ontario, and she now makes her home in Kingston. “I love the city of Kingston and can’t think of a more vibrant and encouraging writing community than the one we have here,” she says. “A lot of artists get lost in the white noise of a big city and the competitive nature of publishing—I try to stay away from… While I love to visit and read in other cities, I prefer to live as simply as possible and to spend as much time as I can writing. The Kingston community has been very generous to me over the years, and I’m fortunate to be a part of it.”