Spotlight series #82 : Tom Prime

rob mclennan
3 min readFeb 6, 2023

Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.


These poems are a mixture of quoted, satirized, and re-appropriated lines from a variety of early-modern English plays and poems, interwoven with voices, memories, and incidents from my own life. In this way, I summon disembodied, allegorical voices into symbolic, yet restorative confrontations with the victims/forms of actual violence they have helped perpetuate.

For me, the main benefit of taking an experimental approach in my writing has been that it helps me write in less self-involved ways. Rather than only reflecting on the particulars of my own brutal experiences, I want my work to point to the fact that my experiences are also part of a broad history of systemic abuse. Because I am of English and Scottish descent, I am considering this problem in a frame that is specifically Anglophone and Western. I can’t speak to systemic abuses in other societies, but I do feel permitted to examine their histories in our own society — in particular, white, settler-colonial society — from the 16th century to today.

Myself, I spent nearly five years homeless, while struggling with the effects of abuses endured in my childhood as well as those that occurred to me on the street. After getting off the street, and undergoing 13 years of therapy, I was ultimately diagnosed with permanent Complex-PTSD.

Though I live in Ontario, my writing is generally West Coast specific. I spent most of my homeless years on the stolen Indigenous lands renamed Victoria (the traditional territories of the Lkwungen (Lekwungen) peoples), Vancouver (Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh), and elsewhere on the mainland.

Trigger Warning: Explicit Discussion of Childhood Sexual, Physical, and Emotional Abuse. Also, there is Discussion of Substance Use Disorder, Homelessness, and Prostitution.


Tom Prime lives in Canada.