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Praise for Little Hunger

Paul is a Saanich Indian who lives on Vancouver Island, and his steadfast focus is on the traditions and values of his heritage. These quiet, reflective poems on family and place have a soft-spoken quality, but they still have plenty of lyrical impact … In a way, Little Hunger is the voice of a community as much as it is a single poet. Yet it's a singular voice indeed – and well deserving of a place on the GG shortlist.
— Barb Carey, Toronto Star

Paul's second poetry collection continues almost seamlessly the creative work of his first book, but with a lighter vision and more playful rhythms. It also reaffirms the mature poetic voice that emerged in Paul's first collection, which presented a fully formed world to readers.
— Jennifer Dales, Arc Poetry Magazine

Philip Kevin Paul, in Little Hunger, uses family stories from a tradition of oral culture and places them across the landscape so we can feel the contemporary resonance of history. Even the rain transmits the past and inflects longing …
— Jacqueline Turner, The Georgia Straight

… Paul is able to communicate a precise, intimate vision of his world. Central to this book are his family members. I was overwhelmed by the poem about bathing in Saanich Inlet with his uncle (‘Waiting for the Sun’), the ritual unexplained but the love between them clear - including how he teases his uncle about his age … Philip Kevin Paul's lyric poems are lovely, pensive and lyrical in the best senses of both words.
Book Addiction

Philip Kevin Paul’s book Little Hunger is a strange and often delightfully surreal bundle of stories and vignettes.
— Bashu Naimi-Roy, Re:verse

Philip Kevin Paul’s connection with the Saanich Peninsula — the land of his family, and his lifelong home — is clear just from reading the contents listing of Little Hunger, his second collection of poetry, which features poems like ‘Descent into Saanich’ and ‘Brentwood Bay.’ And, indeed, the poems themselves make that connection even more clear, delving into Paul’s experience of the land and the people of the area, and the experience of the Wsanec people.
Peninsula News Review

Fine lyric moments and an admirable and generous awareness characterize Philip Kevin Paul's Little Hunger. These poems inhabit and embody deep resonances of family, place and language. A beautiful congruence of personal exploration, cultural endurance and human experience.
Governor General's Award for Poetry Jury, 2009

This is poetry written by an exceptional poet … Life is a little emptier when we have lost touch with our world, when it doesn’t affect us, when it isn’t as close to us as it is to Paul. We need his, and other voices like his, to remind us – not of what we’ve lost, not of what we’ve given up in the name of progress, but of what we can still have if we remember.
– John Herbert Cunningham, Prairie Fire


If you lived with Kevin Paul, you would want to be as careful every morning as you are on April Fool’s Day. He slides puns into serious conversations deft as a pickpocket, so you have to be on your toes when you talk to him. He’s a trickster and he knows it; he is also one of the most original voices in Canadian poetry today. One of the reasons for the success of Paul’s poetry may be that he is so certain of who he is. A member of the W,SÁNEÆ nation, Paul was raised by his family in a traditional way and speaks SENÆOTEN as his first language. Despite his persistent humour in person, there is a seriousness to his poetry that is the weight of deep meditation about self and place. … The poems in Little Hunger pick up from where his first collection, Taking the Names Down From the Hill left off. That book won him the 2004 Dorothy Livesay award for poetry. This one should also earn Kevin Paul the attention he deserves.
— Jay Ruzesky, The Goose

Paul…writes in a poetic voice that is highly attuned to sublime elements of nature, hinting at the presence of the supernatural in our surroundings.It is through interactions with nature that Paul explores memories of an absent father, as an exquisite poem Out of Place, in which he recalls his father nursing and albino pigeon and catching an albino salmon:

How close Dad lived
to what he couldn’t know:
the albino pigeon, an unwatched bird,
the albino salmon we watched
until it went to deep for us to see
its last white flicker
was what we held in other darknesses …


Not since Robert Frost’s poem Design or Herman Melville’s novel Mobyd Dick has the discovery of an eerie whiteness in nature been used so effectively to evoke an uncanny human psychological response.
— Harold Heft, The Montreal Gazette

[T]he words jump off the page and straight into your heart … They're the kind of poems you go to again and again for comfort, joy, or just to feel alive.
— Starleigh Grass, Twinkle's Happy Place

In Little Hunger, his second collection, Philip Kevin Paul continues the project of his first book, Taking the Names Down from the Hill (2003) — although here he writes in an even more focused manner. This project is to assert and evoke the connectedness of land, culture, and family in Central Saanich, British Columbia, north of Victoria, the traditional territory of the WSÁ, NEC Nation. The result is an intensely local set of poems that assume the place to be central to the author’s personal and cultural identity. … In “Descent into Saanich,” he writes of approaching the local airport. In flight he cannot hear the sound of the water “as it slides against / the east end of our smallest islands,” a sound he “know[s] by heart” and that “lays claim to [him], a child of Saanich.” Paul’s poetry is likewise claimed by place. At times his world seems private, scarcely comprehensible to outsiders; the poems, like [Gregory] Scofield’s, also depict familiar sorrows.
—Nicholas Bradley, Canadian Literature


Philip Kevin Paul conjures contemporary life among the Saanich people with intelligence and perception. Paul’s voice is honest about the challenges of living in this community with its addictions, crime, and multi-faceted feelings of loss ... Yet this awareness doesn’t distort his affection for the people who form the community, or their legends, language, and traditions, or the land that enfolds them.
—Paul W. Harland, Journal of Canadian Poetry