In the early hours of 1919 one of the most tragic maritime disasters occurred off the Beasts of Holm. Karen Clavelle's Iolaire is a powerful retelling of a tale that cannot be forgotten.


December 31, 1918. The war to end all wars was over and nearly three hundred men were returning home to their families, long left behind. When the HMS Iolaire left port on her fateful journey she was overflowing with joyful soldiers who had survived the gun but would not survive the sea. It was the Beast of Holm that sank her that night, plunging the men into the frigid waters no more than 20 feet from shore. 205 died , 82 survived. Iolaire, Karen Clavelle's debut collection of poetry, takes letters, news clippings and her own unique voice to stitch together one of the most tragic tales in maritime history.

Longlisted, Gerald Lampert Memorial Award Shortlisted, Lansdowne Prize for Poetry Shortlisted, Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher
Advanced Praise

Iolaire is a muscular reckoning of a century-old maritime disaster that hums like an electric charge. Here be history, lyric, time lines, photographs, imagined letters, dramatic voices, prose, and soulful Gaelic carried up and away by one of literature’s great vessels, the long poem. Karen Clavelle has produced a multi-layered, stormtossed work that holds fast to the heaving line.

Katherine Lawrence, author of Never Mind

In this collection of sublime longing, Karen Clavelle weaves possible lost threads into a series of evocative questions, suggesting an inquiry like an elegy seeking lyric. Iolaire’s buoyancy is found in its heroine, whose residual life is haunted by the limbo of a collapsing ship, suspended and alive in memory like a somehow still-flaming archetype.

Kristian Enright, author of Sonar


Iolaire is so real, so moving. It is life and death... In [Clavelle's] hands the Beasts of Holm nave become the Beasts of Home.

C. John Edwards

Iolaire was wonderfully crafted... An exquisite piece of poetry and reportage.

Tom Bryan, author of Until the Roof Falls In

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