Book Cover: We Can't Ever Do This Again, Amber McMillan

We Can't Ever Do This Again

Amber McMillan
  • $18.00

April 2015
68 pages | ISBN 978-1-894987-99-8

**Honourable Mention - Alcuin Society Award for Excellence in Book Design - Poetry**

A blind boy comforts himself with a telephone’s dial tone and later becomes an international prankster. The discovery of a fox crucified in a toolshed prefigures the breakdown of a close relationship. McMillan’s poems render both the public and the intimate with uncanny precision. They show us how these two worlds influence and invade one another. The flux and flicker of private memories are captured and projected brightly onto a shared, communal space. This is an adroit poetry that moves beyond confession; rather, it first stands witness, and then records, and then transmits its experiences to us like a gift.

Advance Praise

“Amber McMillan has a keen eye for the luminous and the absurd. Her directness of address and tenderness of outlook make this book a terrific debut.”
Sharon Thesen, author of A Pair of Scissors and The Good Bacteria

“It is a rare gift for a poet to successfully recombine the binaries of existence, the nuance of simultaneously feeling joy and grief, love and isolation, hope and cynicism. Rarer still for the poet to achieve this by using her craft as a microscope, its lens keenly focused on details of the everyday. Even rarer, I’d say pseudo-magical, for her to enable me to actually experience these contradictions as I read, as though the reading became an act of complicity. Amber McMillan’s poetry is an example of the earned, the hard won, the bruised and bittersweet right to express what might be honestly beautiful about us.”
David Seymour, author of Inter Alia and For Display Purposes Only

“It’s the mix of exasperation, outrage and wonder towards living implicit in McMillan’s slyly titled We Can’t Ever Do This Again that has fed that ‘other stream’ – a rich, demotic voice that feels delivered so intimately you can almost feel the breath. Readers of Michael Longley, Kathleen Jamie, Seamus Heaney and Jack Gilbert will find in McMillan that perfectly calibrated balance that allows the reader to fall deep into the poem’s sinkhole of thought and emotion, uncovering the necessary innocence and
unknowing so vital to a memorable work.”
Jeff Latosik, author of Tiny, Frantic, Stronger and Safely Home Pacific Western


"Claire Kelly on the 'deliberate and unwavering' poems in Amber McMillan's We Can't Ever Do This Again" (Claire Kelly, CBC Books, 18/04/2019)
"We Can’t Ever Do This Again is deliberate and unwavering and is one that I've returned to for enjoyment, but also when wanting to think about thoughtfulness and precision in my own work. It's a must-read."

"Review" (Emily Davidson, Arc Poetry Magazine 07/19/2016)
"Few debuts are as considered as Amber McMillan’s We Can’t Ever Do This Again. The new collection from Buckrider Books walks a calculated line, navigating family and history, tenderness and indifference, without a false step to either side. McMillan’s landscape is washed up pilot whales and lamed cows, broken dishware and dial tones, sprawling Canada and specific Zutphen, Second World War. The collection is a precipice book, a welcome jolt of adrenaline as McMillan peers into the human condition and does not fall."

"Outrageous Intelligence: Two New Collections of Poems from Buckrider Books, 2015" (Catherine Owen, Marrow Reviews, 28/10/2015)
“McMillan can move masterfully between Larkin-y lines … and joyfully tragic linguistic lollopings.”


"Looking the Other Way" (Spencer Gordon, Town Crier, 29/05/2015)
“I feel a calm, quiet intensity (maybe another way of saying it is a ‘sober concentration’) in the poems in We Can’t Ever Do This Again.”


Claire Kelly on the 'deliberate and unwavering' poems in Amber McMillan's We Can't Ever Do This Again (CBC Books, 18/04/2019)
For poetry month, poet Claire Kelly talks about how Amber's book is meaningful to her: "I am impressed by the way she gets at the different scales and rhythms of living: the intimacies, the expanses, the depths and shallows."

Most Anticipated: Spring 2015 Poetry Preview (Kerry Clare, 49th Shelf, 26/01/2015)


Read the first few poems in We Can't Ever Do This Again


Amber McMillan reads "Celebration" at Hamilton's LitLive Reading Series on May 3rd.

Amber McMillan reads "Variant C" at LitLive.

Amber McMillan reads "Girl Child" at the Toronto Buckrider Books launch on May 7th, 2015.

About the Author

Amber McMillan’s poems have appeared in The Puritan, CV2, Forget Magazine and subTerrain among others. She currently lives on Protection Island, BC. We Can’t Ever Do This Again is her first book. Visit her at

Other Books by This Author

This Is a Stickup (2022)

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