Yardwork: A Biography of an Urban Place

Yardwork: A Biography of an Urban Place

Daniel Coleman
  • $20.00

May 2017
272 pages | ISBN 978-1-928088-28-8

**Shortlisted for the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction**

How can you truly belong to a place? What does being at home mean in a society that has always celebrated the search for greener pastures? And can a newcomer ever acquire the deep understanding of the land that comes from being part of a culture that has lived there for centuries?

When Daniel Coleman came to Hamilton to take a position at McMaster University, he began to ask himself these kinds of questions, and Yardwork: A Biography of an Urban Place is his answer. In this exploration of his garden – which Coleman deftly situates in the complicated history of Cootes Paradise, off of Hamilton Harbour – the author pays close attention to his small plot of land sheltered by the Niagara Escarpment. Coleman chronicles enchanting omnivorous deer, the secret life of water and the ongoing tension between human needs and the environment. These, along with his careful attention to the perspectives and history of the Six Nations, create a beguiling portrait of a beloved space.


Hamilton's McMaster prof Daniel Coleman pens Yardwork: A Biography of an Urban Place
(Jane Mulkewich, Dundas Star, 18/08/2017)
"His new book, Yardwork: A Biography of an Urban Place, pulls together diverse strands of knowledge about a very specific plot of land (his backyard), that will surprise, delight, and inform readers — whether they are interested in wildlife, plant life, geology, water management, genealogy, history, or Indigenous issues."

Hot Hamilton Reads (Jessica Rose, Hamilton Magazine, 01/06/2017)
"In his latest book, Yardwork, McMaster University Professor Daniel Coleman compels readers to pause and observe the natural spaces in which they live -- beginning first with their own backyards."

A Review of Daniel Coleman's Yardwork: A Biography of an Urban Place (Angie Abdou, Hamilton Review of Books, 01/05/2017)
"In Coleman’s work, paying close attention to the ground we stand on becomes a spiritual act. He reminds readers too that the more we focus in on a small space, the bigger it grows – and the more it can tell us about the larger world, the global network of which the one small place and all of its inhabitants are a part. The book will encourage all readers to engage in this kind of intensive “Place Thought” as a way to connect with the natural world to which they belong."


Daniel Coleman on the Complexities, Labour, and Reward of a Connection to the Land (Open Book, 14/07/2017)
"Daniel tells us about a friend with a very helpful suggestion, shares a fantastic title from an Australian memoir, and gives us a peak at some of the working titles that existing along the way for Yardwork."


Click here to read the prologue and the first chapter of Yardwork.

Click here for an excerpt on All Lit Up for its Where In Canada series.

About the Author

Daniel Coleman has long been fascinated by the poetic power of narrative arts to generate a sense of place and community, critical social engagement and mindfulness, and especially wonder. As a reader, writer and teacher, he is compelled by the long, slow project of unlearning naturalized injustices and sanctioned ignorance and is witness to the fact that fresh ways to learn still occur and have transformative power. Although he has committed considerable effort to learning in and from the natural world, he is still a bookish person who loves the learning that is essential to writing. He has written scholarly books about literature, masculinity, migration and whiteness in Canada, and he has written literary non-fiction books about his upbringing among missionaries in Ethiopia, about the spiritual and cultural politics of reading and about eco-human relations in Hamilton, Ontario, the post-industrial city where he lives. He has edited books on early Canadian literary cultures, post-colonial masculinities, race, Caribbean-Canadian literature, the state of the humanities in Canadian universities, the creativity and resilience of refugeed and Indigenous peoples, and international scholarship on Canadian literatures. Some of these books have won awards.

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