Only One of Us Gets to Be a Martyr- Nicholas Gagnier/Lois E. Linkens

Alive is not a competition but death calls to my indecision, before I fizzle out with weakening flames. 

The future has looked stranger, indeed, and yet these are 
troubled times; 
your hair dyed dirty
blonde like your mom 
said would never suit you, and 
longing to remain blind to her little wisdom instilled.

My quick red mermaid maverick,
You always were a thing between states.
A fresh face
And a scowl to snuff a forest fire,
What was it – the hand with many voices murmured, sharp as lemon –
What was it that made you stay?
Dear kind Harpocrates, yield to them
Until the curtain drops o’er this sweet sad story
I never chose to write.

Guess I’m still self-righteous,
somewhere beneath the spite. Enough so
I could immortalize the ego in your overbite, the 
we made heists of, 
cracking the dial safes of your inspirations,
only to set the world alight. 

When the pyre burns,
I would my flesh would peel and crack.
Still in my gloried self I hoped you’d see
That acrid bitterness your larval soul
Did at present lack.  

Fade to black, enlightened words
for these are are the supernovas which blind 
you to 
the stars. But only one of us 
get to be a martyr, and living is 
harder with the 
other’s dying breaths as gospel.
Insanity is 
tragedy quite certain.
But only one of us gets to be the 
subject of long-lived chronicle, 
the other mortal until his dying day. 

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Nicholas Gagnier is a Canadian writer and poet, and the creator of  Free Verse Revolution. He has published several poetry books, as well as a novella releasing this July. Nicholas supports and engages in conversations around mental health and social welfare, preferring strong literary voices and self-expression to traditional narrative and poetry. He lives in Ottawa with his young daughter, where he runs FVR Publishing and works on a million projects at once.

Lois is a poet and student from England. She is studying the literature of the Romantics and hopes their values and innovations will filter through into her own work. She is working on longer projects at present, with a hope to publish poetry collections and novels in the years to come. She is a feminist, an nostalgic optimist, and a quiet voice in the shadows of Joanne Baillie and Charlotte Smith. It is a pleasure to present her work, and you can find more of it at Lois E. Linkens.

Ibuprofen- Nicholas Gagnier/FVR Publishing

You were twenty-three when we met, rebel of unrefined rhetoric.

I was twenty-six, what a perfect age to be. Idealism wasn’t dead and I could still make you love me for all these ideas which had yet to erode the fantasy.

You were twenty-five when I proposed, wearing plainclothes in a parking lot, where I once asked you for a smoke and hoped you’d nod, but didn’t expect such conversation.

I was twenty-eight and a fortnight when I asked your father, the warmest that relationship ever got.

Because we bonded over daughters,
I tried to be what I was not.

Imagined family and futures,
not this animosity, but then,

there were fewer signs.

Epiphanies haunt me in kind; there is no more normal than there ever was strange, and beautiful things begin the way they eventually wane; as products of their time.

Inevitability has a shelf life, yet this expiry is mine.

So I’ll lie to myself that this glass of whiskey helps, and true, it might alleviate this madness ’til the bottle’s empty or first light tomorrow, but this sorrow weighs upon my tongue like ibuprofen.

Some part of me is broken and I’ll use its shards to borrow years ’til I go bankrupt on self-doubt and counting pills, trying to find the magic in waking up without you.

It’s the falling asleep that kills me.

Nicholas Gagnier is a Canadian writer and poet, and the creator of Free Verse Revolution. He has published several poetry books, as well as a novella releasing this July. Nicholas supports and engages in conversations around mental health and social welfare, preferring strong literary voices and self-expression to traditional narrative and poetry. He lives in Ottawa with his young daughter, where he runs FVR Publishing and works on a million projects at once.

Review of Leonard The Liar, Nicholas Gagnier by Kristiana Reed

Let me begin honestly. There is no hiding the love I have always had for Nicholas Gagnier’s work; whether that be his poetry or being a beta reader for his novel Founding Fathers, due to be released in the summer of 2019. However, this also meant I approached reading Leonard the Liar with a preconceived notion of Gagnier’s narrative voice. I hear Gagnier as an angsty yet wise before his time twenty something to thirty something year old, who is both equally in and out of love with the world around him. This was not the voice I heard in the opening of Leonard – the prologue which lays the foundations for the telling of this story.

Gagnier’s strength is in his characters. His ability to write about the complexity and brilliance of human nature all at once. His characters are not metaphors or windows to a bigger picture; they are the people, like you and me, living in the bigger picture; living in the world we struggle to recognise yet know all too well at the same time. Leonard in his fifties appeared to lack this for me but Gagnier soon turned the tide.

Each moment and encounter Leonard faces shapes him and reveals secrets, and paths he regrets walking down. From struggling to even see Gagnier in the prologue, I soon saw little parts of myself in every character. I saw myself in Skylar’s reckless yet needy nature. I saw myself in Leonard’s lies and his endless search for happiness everywhere, except where it already exists. I saw myself in Claire’s ability to love even if it means getting hurt. I saw myself in Luke’s short tempered fury but perhaps not in his ability to win a bar fight singlehandedly.

I read and enjoyed Leonard the Liar. I smiled, laughed and furrowed my brow. However, as the denouement opened I forgot about enjoyment and Gagnier’s skilful storytelling took hold of me – whether by the hand, heart or throat is hard to tell. All I know is I felt every last syllable. And I cried with both grief and hope because this is what Gagnier does. He introduces you to a man we can all relate to. A man who has secrets, insecurities and memories he would rather not share. A man who lies, loves and loses. But, despite all of the heartbreak in this novella, there is light. There is light wherever you would like it to be – in the happy ending, in the morning sky or at the end of the tunnel.

Gagnier always reminds us to ‘Never lose your light’ and I think for the first time it truly made sense, thanks to Skylar’s words:

‘I hope you will forgive me the words my darkness spoke, and use them to find your light.’

In short, mid-fifties Leonard makes perfect sense by the final pages and my preconceived notion of Gagnier’s voice was flipped on its head; introducing me again to him as a writer whose voice will always be heard above the crowd.

To buy:


Kristiana Reed day dreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.

Daisy Heir- Nicholas Gagnier

Pushing dandelions in

defiance of dying roses and 
their body 
count of thorns. 

You wanted my final form 
like some daisy to adorn and 
I could ogle like 
neat whiskey and nostalgia 

Baby, we’re just drunk off old ambience (the taste is God awful). 

So pour me your best, let’s ward off the impossible, faults in our Zodiacs and other stars we can hobble with long odds. 

One more for 
the road, to warm the 
bones one becomes  as 
the underdog of 

In this diaspora of roses, you’re the flower I clutch 
closest when I’ve sworn off beauty like booze, 
hungover from the human interaction of being given something to lose.

And yeah, I’m pushing the lesser ideal; wild oats over discipline, trading aesthetic for carnal sin, 
but that’s the appeal-

true love on a whim ain’t pretty in the morning but you always tell
her she is.

Nicholas Gagnier is a Canadian writer and poet, and the creator of Free Verse Revolution. He has published several poetry books, as well as a novella releasing this July. Nicholas supports and engages in conversations around mental health and social welfare, preferring strong literary voices and self-expression to traditional narrative and poetry. He lives in Ottawa with his young daughter, where he runs FVR Publishing and works on a million projects at once.  

Meet Sudden Denouement Collective Member Nicholas Gagnier

The editors of Sudden Denouement Literary Collective know that our strength is our writers. We hope that you enjoy getting to know them through our new Writer Interview Series.

What name do you write under?
Most of the time, my own. Past blogs have taken on a moniker that is not my own, but every book I have published bears my name and not the project it’s associated with.

In what part of the world do you live?
I live in Canada, in the national capital, Ottawa. My parents met working the Prime Minister’s office in the late 70s. It’s pretty quiet here, unlike our neighbours Toronto and Montreal. Very much a political town, full of old buildings and the Parliament can be seen from every direction when downtown.

Tell us about yourself.
I am a writer. I feel like I can say because there are almost physical withdrawals to going a day without writing or creating something. I started writing poetry when I was eleven. To be honest, it was never part of my plan to be a poet, but my father was gone a lot and I was left with his monster of a third wife who emotionally manipulated every second of my day. Writing became my form of control in a hostile environment, and poetry was so easy, it just evolved from there.

Where do you publish your work?
FVR Publishing

When did you begin your blog and what motivated you start it?
When I was 22, my friend took her life and ever since, not only have my own mental health issues become more prominent, but I promised to honour her somehow. After completing my first novel in 2011, I started thinking about blogging. All the poetry on my hard drive, some stretching back years, wasn’t exactly my first attempt at a blog, but the reactions were swift and positive, and it’s something I spent the last six years honing. I feel truly blessed for having had the experience, which has opened so many amazing doors and introduced me to some wonderful people.

What inspires/motivates you to keep blogging?
Honestly, I just love writing. I have struggled with some facets of it over the years, but even at my most financially or mentally precarious, I feel so blessed to have the compulsion to create. Not everything comes out the way you’d hope, but that only makes your best work stand out more.

When and how did you find your way to Sudden Denouement?
Very recently, in fact. I’m the new kid here. For me, joining SD is the outcome of cultivating relationships with some amazing people. I believe the earliest exchange between one of its writers and I was with Kindra on my blog. Others followed my blog, and I followed them back. I found Nicole on Facebook while looking through poetry pages, and her work spoke (and still does!) volumes to me. I remember meeting Christine through my mental health book, Swear to Me, although I’m sure we had exchanges before that. It took awhile to connect everyone to Sudden Denouement, but I could not turn down the chance to work with so many of my favourite modern poets.

What does “Divergent Literature” mean to you?
Well, to diverge is to separate, and I take that to mean we stand apart from the mainstream, carving out our own niche in the literary world. I have nothing but respect for for those who do the things they’ve always been done, but I was never good with conventional means, so I’m happy with that definition.

Jasper Kerkau frequently talks about Sudden Denouement writers using the ‘secret language.’ What is it?
I don’t yet know Jasper well enough to deduce much from this statement, honestly.

Tell us about your literary influences.
Stephen King was my first huge literary influence- my mom gave me a copy of Cujo when I was 9. Once the nightmares subsided, I went on to read most of his work up until the mid-2000s. Chuck Palahnuik is another huge one. I used to read a lot more before my kid was born. I should correct that. I used to read more than Dr. Seuss before my kid. I’m happy because she’s now learning how to read, and hopefully I can show her there’s a lot more than picture books. My dad once gave me a copy of the Two Towers without having read Fellowship of the Ring, so needless to say, I hope to do a better job teaching her than he did with me.

Has any of your work been published in print?  How did that happen?
I have published three full collections of poetry- GROUND ZERO, SWEAR TO ME and the FVR Collection. There have been five smaller chapbooks, ten to twelve poems each, that focused on subjects ranging from economic disparity to Donald Trump. Those are some of my favourites.

I have completed two full novels in my lifetime. The first one was a mess and the second is in eternal limbo. I will publish my third, which is about half finished, sometime next year, using all the experience I’ve gathered publishing poetry.

What are your writing goals?
I used to write because I thought I was a great writer, but I have been humbled the last five years. Part of that was my own mental health deteriorating, another was seeing the sheer breadth of talent I had to compete with. At my lowest moment, I had this epiphany, that all my secrets had to come out, including my struggles with my sexuality and depression. I had to stop pretending to be what I wanted to be and be what I am, or it would kill me. To make this a bit more succinct, the goals are momentary now. I don’t need to be the world’s best writer, just one I like myself.

Which pieces of your own writing are your favorites?
There’s no easy to answer to this, as I am my own worst critic. Everything in the FVR Collection comprises the poems I keep closest, the ones I would want my daughter and family to see after I’m gone. At the risk of diverging from the pack, I will leave this quote instead, from my poem “AlterKnitUniVerse”:

Skies under
the influence of
a cooler shade of day;
a pair of new
moons serve to
ascertain this
isn’t a world created
for me but
the one I endlessly
and adapted,
and I let
its rapids
carry me

What else would like to share about your writing, Sudden Denouement, or yourself?
You are more than the sum of your struggles. That is the message my poetry has sought to leave. That is the message it will continue to cultivate, while I work alongside some of the world’s best writers to help SD thrive.


Thank you.


Logic Fails- Introducing Nicholas Gagnier

I’ve been reflecting on my place in the universe, a
sense of worth from all these travels. I’ve been resenting the
berths between us, the mirth
of mania so eagerly
yet never malleable enough to close the gap.
I’ve been obsessing over how to make this last,
doing the math to make you stay,
but all the variables are based in
barely equations in name.
I’ve been dissenting, instead, embracing my
wrath, for the day all
logic fails and arithmetic won’t hold us
back, considering how five figures
amount to jack, and
sound out the solutions we were once unable to
I’m out of pieces to divide among you, at long
fucking last; no methods to madness, just
riddles and
relapses, a
hypothesis to
It wasn’t always going to be
this way, but I know
no part of
you still
believes that.

Nicholas Gagnier is a Canadian writer and poet, and the creator of Free Verse Revolution. He has published eight books of poetry and will release his debut novel in 2019. Nicholas is also a mental health advocate, music lover and whiskey enthusiast. He lives in Ottawa with his wife and young daughter.