e/view of white shirt

Paula A. Kirman has some nice words about my first poetry collection, White Shirt, on the I Heart Edmonton blog.

“How can I best describe MacFayden’s poetic style? Imagine poetry that is at times gritty and personal, that deals with love and lust and sex and broken relationships, that has a tone of a booze-filled night out before the hangover sets in, almost reminiscent of the beatnik poets from decades past. Now, imagine this kind of poetry written by a woman.

“From short haiku to longer poems, from free verse to internal rhyme, [MacFayden] expresses herself clearly with emotion and introspection. … MacFayden invites the reader into her life where she exposes vulnerability without making anyone feel like they are merely being a voyeur.”

My next book, Kissing Keeps Us Afloat (Frontenac House) drops in September 2014. Stay tuned …

Sound Spiritus: An Evening of Words & Music

garden dance

ArtSpirit Festival 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 7:30 pm

Savour the interplay of text and music in performance
with a roster of River City’s celebrated poets and musicians

Host: Kathy Fisher

Featuring former Raving Poets frontmen Mark Kozub and Mike Gravel;
Laurie MacFayden; Nancy MacKenzie; Cliff Therou;
Suite Tweet – a recorder/classical guitar ensemble
with Donna Mae Mohrmann, Linda Jacklin and Alena Vysocil;
Trio avec Brio – poets Pierrette Requier, Adriana Davies
and multi-instrumentalist Alison Grant-Préville;
Roylin Picou; Tamara Carlson; and other special guests.

Photos, artwork, CDs, and books will be available for purchase.

Photography display by Jack Bawden

Feast your senses!

Holy Trinity Church, Old Strathcona
(downstairs in the Lower Art Space)
10037-84th Ave., Edmonton

Admission free / donations welcome
Theatre licence / cash bar
Doors at 7 pm

 

trocadero

My brother started collecting squirrel skulls at the age of seven. But it is not yet time for madness to enter the story.

My mother found a ring at the Canadian National Exhibition Princess Gates. But it is not yet time for turquoise to enter the story.

I fell in love on the Paris Metro. But it is not time for Trocadero to enter the story.

Still, we have to enter somehow, with the story of something. So how about the story of the thimble in my jewelry box – and how it is the only thing left from my father’s house. He burned mom’s recipes and gave away her coats. Who would want them? he asked the daughter, seriously.

So I rescued her thimble and keep it preserved. And I guess that in itself is a little bit of madness and, in fact, is proof that it’s never too early for madness to enter a story.

Collecting squirrel skulls is certainly madness. My brother didn’t kill the squirrels, I hope you didn’t think that; that would be seriously mad. No, he just saved and preserved skulls he found in the woods; he had good eyes, good skills for such a thing. Our father had been a naturalist and taxidermist from the age of 13 so in our family this sort of thing was considered not even close to madness. When my father’s mother, my grandmother Clem, killed herself at 38, her madness was swept under the rug. His collections of bird and small animal skulls provided some kind of intricate, earthy solace.

The ring? Why did I save my mother’s thimble instead of the turquoise ring? I don’t know, really. The thimble seemed more her to me. She sewed some clothes for me with it. If you know what I mean.

trocadero-2I’m starting to think the turquoise ring would fit better inside a story about love on the Paris Metro. So now it is time to introduce Trocadero to the story.

There is no Eiffel Tower stop, you see; you have to know that you get off at Trocadero if you want the best view of the tower. There is a flat plane leading up to it, and always lots of people selling Eiffel Tower trinkets. Key chains. Pens. Sunglasses. Statuettes. Bottled mineral water that says Evian on the label but you suspect has been replaced with tap water. Counterfeit Evian. Paris is just that kind of place. You love and trust it even as you are suspicious of everything.

Trocadero. Did I really find love there? Seriously? No.

But I really love the sound of Trocadero. Troc-a-de-ro. Trocadero. I also love the sound of Vavin – which is a Metro stop close to another Paris tower – the less famous, big black monolith of Montparnasse that’s world-class ugly and completely soul-less. Apparently there is a view, but why would you go up to see that when you can just sit in the Odessa Cafe and enjoy the swirling sepia tones of the City of Light?

Vavin. Va-vin … Va va va voom … TROCADEEEEEEERO!

I fell in love with a boy on the Paris Metro. He was wearing a turquoise ring and reminded me a bit of my little brother. He made art that induced madness in squirrels.

canada (palindrome)

it was so different in the ’70s
it was plaid bellbottoms and sideburns
it was draft dodging and october crisis
it was fresh science and a whole nation beating the soviets in hockey
we were so much more than prisons and fighter jets
we were clean and polite and happily multicultural
we sewed maple leafs on our backpacks
we were not called terrorists for loving trees
we were not called terrorists. we made love under trees.
we sewed maple leafs and were allowed water in our backpacks.
we were clean and polite and didn’t have to think about polar bears.
we were so much more than hockey.
we fought prisons and were proud of our scientists.
it was draft dodging and quebec questioning.
it was plaid bellbottoms and not burning sides.
it was so different in the ’70s.

Fighting Normal – Making Sense of Mental Illness

Lovely story in today’s Edmonton Journal previewing our art show at VAA Gallery:

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/entertainment/Visual+arts+preview+Making+sense+mental+illness/7862273/story.html

MacFayden & Willans; photo by Fish Griwkowsky

MacFayden & Willans; photo by Fish Griwkowsky

hallelujah moments

1. the first time i rode a two-wheeler, dad’s steadying hand at the ready but not necessary. hallelujah!

2. the time mom suggested i use a bigger bat because i was older now, and i resisted, but she insisted, so to please her i tried joey’s louisville slugger and swung hard and i hit a home run. hallelujah! my mom is smart, and i am a champion.

3. that time a boy in a wheelchair told me i have a nice aura.

4. motherless at 27; feeling mostly lost, cold, broken and fat. the sculptor next door tells me he used to watch me sunbathing on the roof when i still lived at home. hallelujah! i had a teenage body somebody thought was worth leering at. wait – hallelujah! – you’re a creep. no wonder your wife left you. do all art teachers sleep with their students?

5. i have always always always lived alone. orphaned at three, disconnected forever. there is a manhattan cafe that feels more like family. the chelsea hotel read my book! hallelujah!

6. racing off the end of the dock. no sharks. no rocks. the water is freezing, but i am not going under. i will survive. hallelujah!

7. if you tell enough lies you can get out of synchronized swimming AND piano recitals. hallelujah!

8. recipe for light getting in (come back to this).

9. hallelujah! your life is not wasted just because you are not a world-famous filmmaker. there is joy in quiet mornings and long prairie skies.

10. that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. she left; i didn’t die. another she left, and i did cry, but … hallelujah! i found swing, bourbon and boogie streets without them. hallelujah! thanks for the memories. didja get my postcards?

11. barefoot crooners with white linen suits and banjos. hallelujah!

12. The company of writerly women. hallelujah!

13. hey, that’s no way to say goodbye during sunday dinner and oh brother you were such a bastard. thank g-d you found your hallelujah.

14. the moment the titanium meets the canary and the cobalt and the perfect sky comes out the end of my eternally grateful brush. hallelujah!

15. the blessed communion of asparagus, lemon, garlic.

16. the realization you are holy within and fuck the without.

17. hallelujah! the trees.

18. hallelujah! the river.

19. hallelujah! the wild blue, yonder. the adult moment when you realize ‘yonder’ is a direction, not a coloured noun.

20. flannel plaid and plaid flannel. sensible shoe hallelujah.

21. corduroy bellbottoms.

22. fried cheese and lager. hallelujah!

23. anonymous valentines. someone out there loves me! hallelujah!

24. stones, roses, ribbons, glass hearts. the lovelies rowing across my living room pond on a snowy sabbath. hallelujah!

25. blessings are plentiful when you remember where to look. sometimes you need a flashlight. sometimes you just glide.

26. constellations and ducks, omelettes and libraries, bridges and broken angels. hallelujah times a million for all of these things.

27. there is a place on the bliss trail called hallelujah point. i buried my old scared self there.

28. the big aha: that hallelujah moments are not so much giant koans as tiny flickers in the mitochondria.

29. is a prime number on which to end. hallelujah!

montparnasse

la gare

seen better in black and white
seen best through a brasserie glass
how can i tell you: it felt like home
from the first inhalation

down on the other corner is the cemetery
where simone du beauvoir and jean-paul sartre, seeking eternal rest,
are pestered daily by well-meaning fans leaving stones, coins, metro tickets
still, it beats lying next to jim morrison over in pere lachaise
that one’s like a bloody airport, crowds of people pushing and weeping
looking to pocket fragments of the famous: chopin dust, piaf crumbs
smearing the pink tomb of oscar wilde with lipstick kisses

edgar quinet is the metro stop
ringed by art stores, pharmacie, cafe la liberte, news stand.
there is creperie row, and opposite is rue de la gaite
you can pick up asian takeaway and X-rated video on your way to la gare.
down that spoke is the cyber cube where you can rent an english keyboard
and on rue delambre there’s a laundry next to cath & dave’s hotel.
there are loads more art stores; you said you like to paint?
and café dietetique, where the food is not salted
but it makes you feel lucky.

wednesday means street market, where the most brazen of eggplants
and strawberries compete for your love with cheeses and other-wordly olives
and fresh cut flowers and paisley ties and pickpockets.
there are tablecloths and genuine french berets
and leathers and imported scarves
there are small dogs attached to large owners, and satchels,
and not as many people smoke anymore.

on sundays the mussels and vegetables are replaced by etchings and small sculptures.
art invades this street. the vendors will ship it to your house
on the other side of the world.

sometimes there’s a flea market with bird cages and old dolls
no photos please, monsieur, you must stop your camera merci beaucoup

we can sit now in cafe odessa, the most darling of all my french mistresses.
she reeks of tobacco and beer and her music is a tired loop of hits
from the american ’80s.
her upholstery is worn, and in some places torn
but we don’t care. we tell ourselves it’s charming,
in the same way the waiters pretend to find our canadian accents charming.
we know they’re making fun of us
and we don’t care.
we order beer named after french gnomes, even though you wanted a coffee.
beer is cheaper, madame; you might as well get that.

this neighbourhood is even better at night. all the outside chairs are taken;
people talk and eat and glasses tinkle
and motorbikes zoom past and drunks amble by
muttering obscenities (which always sound fiercer en francais)
and shaking their fists at le ciel

and this is where picasso and hemingway liked to party
wait, you mean you didn’t know that?

at another cafe a cat sits on the tables,
a case of black-cat ass right on your linen napkin.
i took a picture of it through the window one time
kitty bum snuggled right next to the cutlery
i do not recommend dining there

on another corner, buses. the ugly black tower.
a department store that sells the finest cheap lemon vervaine soap
and those striped shirts that make me wish i was a russian sailor
cinema, patisserie, pain au chocolat, tarte au citron
sweetest of all is that screeching metal-burnt sugar smell of the paris underground
how can i tell you it has held my heart
for a thousand years?

 


‘thank you, this is the worst thing i’ve read’

Spam, wonderful spam!

I just got a lovely gift from someone named “buymicrosoftoffice2011” who clearly made a big booboo (or not) and instead of launching one random option from the Worldwide Fake Comment Generator in Spatherdab’s direction, unleashed ALL of the fake comments from Yoda’s House of Interweb Praise and Pain. I’m particularly fond of “you’re a big lad,” “the article simply disgusting” and “You are the worst writer.”

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(Still haven’t reached your spam quota? This should fix that)

when the shackles come off

my therapist says it’s all about sex
i say no: what about god, and honeybees,
and sentences complex?

my therapist says which parent made you sad
i say no: this is not about mom or dad
it’s about hummingbirds and tap lessons
and being pushed off the dock
and that time i stole nickels from oh my god it IS
all about m
y parents

my therapist says you need to lighten up
i say light ain’t the problem; i’m running out
of guff about my happy childhood

my therapist says why do you
think you’re so cynical
i say cynical, schminical;
my father cheated my mother drank
my brother pimped my sister shrank
i’m the most well-adjusted leaf on the family tree
and i’m the one in therapy!
because i can’t go out at night
because i can’t put up a fight
i never pretended to be sweetness and light
but what a crock, this womonly plight

my therapist says let’s explore what you mean
i say this distressed couch could use a steam-clean; how many heads
have you shrunk here before me?
were they better at disclosure and paying your fee?
did they do their home selfwork re bad touch and strangers
were they unhinged, but sane now?
free from emotional pain now?

my therapist says that’s our time for today. next week
could we start sooner? you’re regressing
i say next week could we start with pills and rum? you’re depressing

my therapist says perhaps you should find
another couch; you’re growing more hostile
i say screw the couch let’s jump straight to the bed
it’s like you & sigmund have already said:
everything always comes back to sex
and don’t think i haven’t noticed the way you look at me

my therapist says you’re projecting
i say i’m really just self-protecting
my sanity, my tiny place in this world
it’s hard, you know, when you throw like a girl

my therapist says that is your time, now goodbye
i say thank you for nothing
now watch this loon fly

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BELOW THE LINE: i just found this on my computer in a bucket marked ‘drafts.’ apparently i created the file
back in november, but i have ABSOLUTELY NO RECOLLECTION of writing it, or what the initial prompt/context was, or which dog-eared notebook it was birthed into. does this mean the inevitable spiral into madness has begun?
or was the writing preceded by three very large glasses of cab sav? oy!