Look At Her


My new book of poetry, entitled ‘Look At Her’ is alive and for sale! The Windsor book launch was held on Thursday, September 22, 2016. A short book tour happened in October through February 2017 where I read in London, Sarnia, Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa and more!

We’re up on Goodreads! Please give me some stars or even write a review! Much, much, muchly much appreciated! We’re up on Chapters/Indigo as well. Locally, Look At Her is available at Biblioasis and the University of Windsor Bookstore, and Chapters in Devonshire Mall.

Look At Her
ISBN: 978-0-088753-565-9
8.5 X 5.5 | 102 pages
$16.00 CDN
Publisher: Black Moss Press, 2450 Byng Road, Windsor, ON, N8W3E8
Distributor: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 195 Allstate Parkway, Markham, Ontario, L3R 4T8

Author Media Contact: Vanessa Shields, shieldsvanessa@gmail.com, 519-999-2314

Black Moss Press Media Contact: Marty Gervais, martygervais@gmail.com, Alicia Labbe, alblackmosspress@gmail.com

*Dates, times, locations are subject to change based on confirmations. Please stay connected via http://www.vanessashields.com/lookather


January 2020 – Sarnia poet Sharon Berg, via FreeFall Magazine, writes a review on Look At Her! Click HERE to read the review!


Ottawa Poet and book reviewer, Michael Dennis reviews Look At Her for his blog: Today’s Book of Poetry! Click HERE for the full review!

“…Sure, Vanessa Shields writes about Dionne Brand’s hair, reads Sylvia Plath and worries about being a good mother, as many of us do, but the fireworks start loud and concussive with poems like “In My Next Life” which made Today’s book of poetry howl with laughter…”


Ottawa Poet Ronnie R. Brown delivers an outstanding review of Look At Her for the League of Canadian Poets’ Feminist Caucus newsletter. Click HERE for the full review!

Look At Her, confronts the kind of inner fears that can wake you in the middle of the night and lets the reader know that there are others out there with similar thoughts.  This collection may even be one way to actually let the male portion of the reading public get a peek into what women think (and want and so on).

Living as we are in a time when a U.S. Presidential candidate can rebuke an accusation of sexual assault by pointing to a women and implying that by just “looking at her” you can tell he would not take the time or trouble to  have anything to do with her, Shields’ Look At Her offers a most prescient take on how women are seen…”

Sarnia Poet Deb Hill reviews Look At Her and interviews me about writing this collection and being a writer. Click HERE for the review and interview!

“…Call her a poetic crusader: a woman waving a feminist flag with a capital C for “Courage” and “Conviction ” pressed against her breast. In her new book Look at Her, Windsor poet/editorVanessa Shields belts out poem after poem after poem of raw emotion focusing on four major themes: Body, Motherhood, Family, and Power…”


From book reviewer Marlene Markham-Gay at Biz X, Windsor – Click Here for the review! (Page 44)

“…Her book of poetry is very raw and soul searching. Shields uses harsh language that may shock some readers…”


From novelist Mark Bacon, August 19, 2016, Reno, Nevada – Click HERE for full review!

“…The last sample notwithstanding, Shields does tell the truth. Hard, touching, revealing, vivid truth. The poems leave you knowing the insides of a women, literally and intellectually.”


Subterranean Blue Poetry (Click on link for full review), August 1, 2016, by Rebecca Banks – Vol. IV, Issue VIII

“…This poetry is raw urban noire, experiential, rooted in everyday life, an exuberant truth telling by a feminist Poet. Inside poetry, it is a celebration of the power of love, sex and procreation, an immediate, earthy, soullight offering. This poetry will shake you out of your comfort zone with a wild scream of “sex, love, blood and guts and bingo” long into the night…”



“Vanessa! Thank you thank you thank you from the bottom of my heart for gifting me with your beautiful book “Look At Her.” It has been on a wild ride in New Zealand with me and I have had the pleasure of sharing your words at poetry event, at a women’s retreat, and just intimately with friends. Your words resonate so much with me and so many others and they are so powerful, beautiful, at times hilarious, and just so real and raw. We had a live music poetry reading event last weekend where people could come and go as they please, jamming out on guitar, drumming, singing, reading poetry, rapping- whatever they wanted. I brought all of my poetry books for people to pick up and read from and your book Look At Her was by far the most frequently read from! The event wouldn’t have been the same without it! I had the pleasure of reading and actually rapping a few of them- it was so much fun. And this weekend I was on a women’s retreat and I read “not the only women” and my goodness did it hit the heartstrings of every woman in the circle. 💗 So just thank you so much for gifting your beautiful words out into the world and being so authentically you! You are so incredibly talented and I feel lucky to call you a friend and a mentor.” Crystal M., New Zealand

“You are an amazing woman.  Brave poetry.  I now think of Sharon Olds, Molly Peacock, and Vanessa Shields when I think of brave celebratory poetry that OWNS the female body entire and celebrates the feminine in poetry that is fresh, sassy, courageous and I say, “it’s about time!”  too.  You are breaking new ground here with your voice.  Well done.  I laughed and I shouted out loud, Good for you, well done!” – John B. Lee, award-winning poet


“With Look At Her, Vanessa Shields rightfully holds her place as a Canadian poet to watch. Fiercely honest, tender, and wrenching, Shields treads into the secrets that so many of us would prefer to keep to ourselves. Unapologetic and unforgettable, Shields’ voice can’t be ignored.” – Liz Worth, author of No Work Finished Here: Rewriting Andy Warhol, Amphetamine Heart, and The Truth Is Told Better This Way


In her latest collection of poetry, Look At Her, Vanessa Shields writes: “This is life in lived-in skin”. Truly, this is a collection of words from a lived-in heart and soul, ready to be consumed by lovers of language and imagery, and of the truths we shy away from and hide. Shields is a powerful poet, and she turns herself inside out to find and share the power inherent in each of the roles she embodies – writer, wife, mother, daughter… the list goes on. While many say – and there’s truth to this – that Shields writes for women… there is humanity in her work that is genderless. Her analysis of motherhood brings fatherhood into clear focus. Her exploration of ‘wife’ provides glimpses into ‘husband’. This work is about who we have all been, are, and may someday be. Shields invites you to ‘look at her’. Accept the invitation. But don’t be surprised to find yourself staring in a mirror.   –  Christopher Lawrence Menard, writer of ‘Whatever It Was’ and the DRAG Trilogy


“[The launch] was such a unique and memorable performance! Vanessa is more than talented. She spoke of ancient woman and modern woman all threaded so elegantly with the lovely jazz! Her poems will resound in my thoughts and dreams for a very long time, maybe forever.” Holly Wolter, painter
In Look at Her, Vanessa Shields tells us “ to say it like the sun. Be the sun.”
She tells us, in these powerful poems about doing kegels at Starbucks, about birthday sex and new bras, about double chins.
In, After a Phone Call with my Mother, she writes, “ I’m afraid of my rage./It connects me with my mother.”
These are powerful poems of pain and hope. Read them. You will be changed. You will be the sun. – Wendy Morton, Founder of Random Acts of Poetry, Poets in the Sky, winner of the Colleen Thibaudeau Outstanding Contribution Award (League of Canadian Poets)

I relished in Look at Her. Your voice is so accessible and easily aligned with much of my world (and many women’s, I imagine). I can tell how therapeutic many of the verses must have been for you; just to express the woman inside! Here are the lines I loved best:

“I bring out the big guns/ Prop them up with wine and Bustier red lace…”
“I hold your scent in my nose/ Make a restaurant of you in my mouth…”
“it was the words that punctured the lymphnodes and slowed the t-cells…”
“I am a woman/ my body is my story”
“I took my heart back in the tear-driven poetry that gathered all my pieces ad stanza-ed them together”

Vanessa Shields’ energy and enthusiasm for life-as-it-is sparks through each stanza…is female fusion-food for the experience of Womyn. Look at Her is for every mother who is ‘afraid to be the woman she is’. Shields’ poetry is a queen’s banquet of rich and decadent female food for reflection! – Kara Smith, writer/mother.


Look at Her, by Vanessa Shields, is a collection of poems dealing with the feminine in its most intimate and political way. Ms. Shields takes us on a journey both metaphorically and physically through clever insight and rich language.

This book breathes truth through all the various troubling and humorous times. An elegantly simple collection told as only someone who is immersed in the complex way of being edgily authentic can. Look at Her would do well to be savoured again and again. – Judith Neale, author of A Quiet Coming of Light (Leaf Press) 


Look At Her is not a gentle read. Vanessa Shields’ blistering honesty and raw unapologetic use of language marks her readers and leaves them blinking hard against the harsh, brilliant light. She tears down the comforting image of the silent, sexless female, with no opinions, no voice,nor even the desire to speak. Instead, she compels her readers to deal with the love and hate,pain and pleasure, doubt and heroism, the complex, contradictory, unresolvable mystery that is Woman. In short, Shields commands us to Look At Her, and when we do, dares us to try and look away. – Penny-Anne Beaudoin, Author of holy cards: dead women talking (Black Moss Press)


As a writer, a poet, a person, Vanessa Shields is generous. She gives us everything she can, in ways that amaze us, capture us, leave us without words of our own. She then wonders if she has given enough, or perhaps too much. Vanessa Shields’ Look at Her reads like an intimate treasure map of the author’s life and its direct impact on her body, where historical emotional battles are chronicled and circled twice, scars on body and soul appear in magnified insets, and pleasure and personal strength are marked with a big red X. Look at Her is a beloved, sensual, well-creased, food-stained document of bitter-sweet tragedy and painstaking triumph. Vanessa Shield’s second collection of poetry is deep and visceral, raw and moving, an exquisite, necessary outpouring, a brave work of art. –   Karen Sylvia Rockwell, Poet, Author of Curious Connections (Urban Farmhouse Press)


Energy, humour, anger, compassion – this blunt and tender book will fill you with gumption and glee. – Susan McMaster, author of Crossing Arc: Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me and Waging Peace: Poetry & Political Action



Book Launch & Tour Dates


  • Friday, November 25, 2016, 7pm – 9pm, The Steady, Toronto, ON


  • Saturday, November 19, 2016 – Bookapalooza, 10am – 3pm, Whitby, ON
  • Sunday, November 13, 206 – Junction Reads Series, Toronto, The Junction, Axis Grill & Gallery, 6pm
  • junctionposter
  • Monday, November 7, 2016 – Guest Lecture/Reading, University of Windsor, School of Education
  • Thursday, November 3, 2016 – Guest Lecture/Reading, St. Gabriel Elementary School, Windsor
  • Friday, November 4 – Sunday, November 6, 2016 – BookFest Windsor – Art Gallery of Windsor, Chimczuk Museum


  • Monday, October 31, 2016 – Guest Lecture, University of Windsor, Education
  • Thursday, October 27, 2016, Writers in the School, St. Joe’s High School, Guest Reading
  • Thursday, October 27, 2016, Poetry At The Manor, 7pm, Poetry On Demand
  • Monday, October 24, 2016, Writing Workshop/Book signing, 7pm – 8:30pm, Budimir Library, Windsor, ON Facebook Event page click here!
  • Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 6:30pm – 8:30pm, Reading & Book Signing with Liz Worth and Jessica Popeski, Ben McNally Bookstore 366 Bay Street, Toronto, ON  Facebook Event Page here!


  • Tuesday, October 18, 2016, HOWL Radio Show, 10pm – 11pm, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • Friday, October 14, 2016, Poetry Reading, 7pm – 9pm, Black Water Coffee Company, Sarnia, ON – Facebook Event page here! 



  • Sunday, October 2, 2016, Black Moss Press Poetry Reading, 5pm – 7pm, Storytellers Book Store, 1473 Ottawa St., Windsor, ON Facebook Event Page here!



  • Thursday, September 22, 2016 – Look At Her, Book Launch, Studio Theatre, University of Windsor Drama Building, 7m – 9pm, Windsor, ON Facebook Event Page here!


  • Saturday, September 10, 2016 – ‘How-To’ Festival, Windsor Public Library, 11am- 2pm, Windsor, ON
  • Thursday, September 8 – Saturday, September 10, 2016 – Scattered Ecstasies, SHO Art, Spirit & Performance, Windsor, ON


  • Sunday August 21, 2016, 12:30 p.m, London Open Mic Poetry Group & The Ontario Poetry Society – The Sultry Summer Poetry Gathering, Mykonos Restaurant, 572 Adelaide St. North, London, Ontario