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So Many Thanks

Thank you to everyone who attended the Zoom launch of Searching for Signal. I truly appreciate the support of Winnipeg’s literary community.

Special thanks to my “co-launchers” James Scoles (The Trailer) and Caroline Wong (Primal Sketches) and to Charlene Diehl, Director of the Thin Air/Winnipeg International Writers Festival, for keeping us in order and asking insightful questions about our collections.

Bringing a book to life takes many hands and I especially appreciate the work of my publisher Karen Haughian, my editor Clarise Foster, and Ashley Brekelmans for managing the launch and other marketing initiatives.

The event was recorded and will soon be available online for viewing.

Searching for Signal is available at many book retailers and online direct from Signature Editions.

what do you say?

                   when I throw a wide net

of talking

           hoping to catch the scaled skin

           of something to hold

what do you think about?

                           all day

now books

now movies

have lost their meaning


                                     you say

                                               hours of

                               your silence


Searching for Signal left me breathless. This long poem has nothing — and everything — to do with my or your father.

All of Cayer’s unflinching, spare language, the heft of the silence, is “chokecherry rhubarb when you bit down.” Light a candle in mourning, in celebrations. Set it in the window while you read. Contemplate the depth of “repeating what we don’t know / came before.”

Reflect on your calendar.

Nora Gould

banging at the locked doors

(so small)

she sent you to live in the locked cellar

for a while fetching her potatoes

was unsettling

your cot and raggedy blankets down there

you were that father



buffering detonations

tornado word hurlings

this is pattern recognition

is gene pool


Searching for Signal is a beautifully restrained and delicate elegy from a daughter whose grief is as probing and responsive as “antennas in need of / hum.” Cayer throws out a taut breath line, a glittering language net. These poems are the luminous record of grief’s many slippages and catchings.

Meira Cook

Author Note & Acknowledgements

Author Note

Researching and writing this book was inevitably foregrounded by the ongoing discussions and questions of being a white settler writer whose forebears lived alongside, though never quite together with, Indigenous Peoples in the near north of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

My earliest known forebear, a blacksmith called Antoine Caillé dit Brûlefer & Biscornet, emigrated from France in the late 1600s to what was labelled “New France.” Although he is not listed as one of the known French Carignan soldiers sent to colonize the area, he nevertheless settled in the traditional territory of the Kanien’kehà:ka. He married Anne Aubry, a Filles du roi (King’s Daughter), one of over 700 young French women delivered by King Louis XIV of France to marry the single Frenchmen that preceded them.

My Ukrainian ancestors were enticed to Canada in a settlement drive in the late 1800s, both sides settling on the lands and waters covered by Treaties 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6, the traditional territories of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.

I am grateful for the opportunity to write Searching for Signal—and my previous books—on Turtle Island, on the land and waters covered by Treaty 1. I hope it does justice to the story of my father’s upbringing, without further entrenching and/or contributing to colonialist and settler attitudes and actions that brought much tragedy to, and continue to harm, Indigenous Peoples’ families, Indigenous individuals and communities, and First Nations.


Some of the lines from these poems were published in a different format in Prairie Fire Magazine. Warm thanks to the Signature Editions: Karen Haughian, Ashley Brekelmans, Heidi Harms and my editor Clarise Foster for her deft and articulate perspective. I am grateful to Maurice Meirau for his input on an early version of this manuscript and to Claire Ogden, Melanie Slavitch, Marlene Rumenovic, and Dorene Willerton. A debt of thanks to Warren Cariou for a meaningful discussion of the role of a settler poet living on colonized territory

This book would not have been possible without the enduring presence of my family. Lastly, I thank Todd Besant, my collaborator in life for his creative wisdom and support.

Searching for Signal is in memory of my father Verne Wesley Kachkowski 1937-2008, Vern with an “e”, who would have been ridiculously proud of this book.