Quartet 2017 launches at the Almanac

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Quartet authors Vivian Hanson, Laurie MacFayden, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Lisa Pasold at the Almanac, Sept. 20, 2017.

 

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Laurie MacFayden reads from Walking Through Turquoise

 

Ordinary

who would ever believe
looking into your ordinary eyes could stop me from breathing;
that touching your scars could transport me to the stars

who would ever believe two ordinary sets of hands
could cartwheel to the moon and back, and again, and back
then sleep in an ordinary bed
in an ordinary room
under ordinary sheets,
dreaming extraordinary dreams.

often there is panic after love’s reveal:
how to snare it, wrap it? ensure it can’t fly away

listen — you put a ring in my heart
not the kind that encircles a finger;
the kind of sound
a happy bell makes.

who’d have ever thought
this ordinary life
could turn ordinary eyes into happy jars of cherry jam
turn these ordinary lives into sacred trust,
turn you into me
and me into you …
all ordinary
and grateful.

– excerpt, from Walking Through Turquoise (Frontenac House)
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Walking Through Turquoise available now

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Walking Through Turquoise, Laurie MacFayden’s third book of poetry, continues to explore the secrets and flirtations mined in her previous titles, White Shirt and Kissing Keeps Us Afloat. The sweet, clumsy intricacies of relationships; things you want to shout from rooftops but can’t; that tickle in your gut the first time she calls you honeyMacFayden ponders a one-way trip to Mars, the turmoil of clouds, the majesty of moonstone. ‘How can desire survive the tragedy of human aging?’ she asks, never losing sight of the joyous, wet, throbbing hallelujah. Walking Through Turquoise is a celebration of the glorious, swirling twine that binds us to things of this earth and beyond.

 

can you be buried in a canoe?
can you paddle on through
and come out the other side?
if the dog jumps out will the vessel tip?
at the bottom of the lake
will your toes find mud or bone?
between the shore and the floating dock,
whose sad, lonely cry swims you home?
— excerpt, red canoe

 

Published by Frontenac House, Walking Through Turquoise is part of Quartet 2017 which also features A Tincture of Sunlight, Vivian Hansen; The Riparian, Lisa Pasold; and This Wound is a World, Billy-Ray Belcourt.

Calgary launch: Tuesday, Sept. 19, Wordfest space, Memorial Park Library, 7-9 p.m. Author readings and refreshments.
Edmonton launch: Wednesday, Sept. 20, The Almanac, 10351 82 (Whyte) Ave., 7-9 p.m. Author readings and refreshments.

the map of our world has no beginning or end
our cartography tells us not where we’ve been
or where we need to go, merely:
where we are joined is at the chest,
the welcoming corner bone of hip,
the intersection of dusk and constellation
joined by alchemy, spirits of the woods,
by hobo roads and caution stones
— excerpt, world map

Alberta Views reviews Quartet 2014

From Bookshelf, November 2014 issue:

[…] Laurie MacFayden’s Kissing Keeps Us Afloat relates the experiences of knowing, “by tenth grade,” that one would “never, not ever, be one of the cool kids,” and of recognizing

Joan Shillington, Sharanpal Ruprai, David Bateman, Laurie MacFayden  - photo by Randall Edwards

Quartet 2014 poets: Joan Shillington, Sharanpal Ruprai, David Bateman, Laurie MacFayden
(Photo by Randall Edwards)

“burgeoning yearnings,” yearnings “we never talked about / the kind two girls aren’t supposed to feel / for each other.” MacFayden’s book is also most evidently self-reflexive about the act of writing poetry, opening with the humourous, “things you need to know before giving your heart to a poet,” a series of warnings such as, “she will write poems about other lovers and find ways / to make you believe they are about you,” and concluding with the also humorous “getting the poem to sleep,” suggesting that one “bash it in the head with a rock.”

“Frontenac’s annual Quartet is … a reminder of the lively poetic work underway in this province.”

— Jason Wiens

black, er, pink tie occasion for white shirt

Great news today – just learned that White Shirt made the shortlist for the Lambda Literary Awards in the Lesbian Poetry category:

White Shirt - Lammy finalist

“Finalists for the Lambda Literary Award were announced today by the Lambda Literary Foundation in Los Angeles.  Books from major mainstream publishers and from academic presses, from both long-established and brand new LGBT publishers, and even from emerging publish-on-demand technologies, make up the 114 finalists for the ‘Lammys.’  The finalists were selected from a record number of nominations.

“The awards, now in their 23rd year, celebrate achievement in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) writing for books published in 2010. Winners will be announced at a May 26 ceremony in New York at the School of Visual Arts Theater (333 West 23rd Street).

“Lambda set a record in 2009 for both the number of LGBT books nominated (462) and the number of publishers participating (about 200), reports Lambda Awards Administrator Richard Labonté. But that record has been surpassed this year, with more than 520 titles represented from about 230 publishers.”

The other four lesbian poetry finalists, from 17 titles submitted, are Jen Currin’s The Inquisition Yours; Money For Sunsets, by Elizabeth J. Colen; The Nights Also, by Anna Swanson; and The Sensual World Re-Emerges, by Eleanor Lerman.

Other Canadians who made the Lammys shortlist include Edmonton’s Vivek Shraya for God Loves Hair (LGBT Children’s/YA category); and Zoe Whittall, whose Holding Still For As Long As Possible is a finalist in two categories: Transgendered Fiction and Lesbian Fiction.

Read the full story here. And you can order White Shirt by clicking here.

Alberta Views tries White Shirt on for size

“Laurie MacFayden’s White Shirt is the sort of garment that appeals
and reveals far more than it conceals. Love, longing, loss and desire
drip and swirl like the poet’s own Pollock-inspired cover art. Simple strategies
work well here: the Tower-of-Babel adjectival pileup that describes
one babelicious mouth in ‘dear life’ leads into other catalogues
and accumulations throughout the book. Once in a while,
as in ‘the knowing,’ the lusty shout turns reflective and insightful.”

Alberta Views Arts & Culture Issue, December 2010
(the one with Robert Kroetsch on the cover!)

Beneath the White Shirt: Passion, tenderness, vivid colour

Lovely review of White Shirt from George Elliott Clarke
in Sunday’s Halifax Chronicle Herald:

“White Shirt announces itself with stunning cover art by MacFayden herself. The cover art, Allegra, its violent lashings and splatters of paint, testifies to MacFayden’s sensibility: Her work is ejaculations, vivid, colourful, clashing, all indelibly marking the white page. Her first poem, my date with jackson pollock, is explicit about this esthetic: “i want the spatter! but he’s / cleaned himself up / i want loose fields, / vigorous lines, angry smears!”(Come to think of it, MacFayden’s cover painting also recalls the black, yellow, red explosion that is the cover for Irving Layton’s poetry book Fornalutx. She also seems to share his admirable frankness.)”

Clarke continues: “There’s mucho — even macho — passion here. There’s tenderness, too, as when the poet recalls an exhilarating day riding 10-speeds with a girlfriend, the twain, “just grinning like hell and knowing that, oh man, we are best friends, we are invisible,
we are invincible, we are fifteen.”

White Shirt is a fine collection — especially recommended for readers who usually ignore poetry.”

UPDATE: White Shirt was recently long-listed for the Alberta Readers Choice Awards.
I’ll be reading from it on Saturday, Dec. 4 at the Writers Guild of Alberta’s Book Lover’s Christmas Sale, Stanley Milner Library (downtown Edmonton), 2:30 p.m.

a little bit sweaty

My debut manuscript, White Shirt, was one of 10 titles selected for Dektet 2010,
a 10-pack of Canadian poetry published by Frontenac House in honour of their 10th anniversary.

The books were released five months ago with launch parties
in Edmonton and Calgary at the end of April.

Finally, the Toronto leg of the promo tour is upon us.

On Wednesday, Sept. 22, all 10 Dektet authors – from all over Canada, including myself, Jannie Edwards and William Nicholls
from Edmonton – will read from our books at Revival Bar,
783 College Street, beginning at 7 p.m.

There will be refreshments, cool people, and plenty of opportunity
to get autographed copies of the books.

TALKIN’ BOUT WHITE SHIRT:

“A bust-out-of-the-closet voice where occasional touchstone rhymes and furious lists score the page. The poems are stripped down, poignant, exact, and as heartily playful
as any serious blues. Here is Sappho crossed with the Supremes.”
— Jury, Dektet 2010

… at home in the canon of Canadian lyricism. — The Globe & Mail

In this debut collection, best friends scream downhill on their ten-speed bikes;
a tree planter spells out her lover’s name in seedlings; and a mysterious entity
steps out of the mist in Stanley Park. The author contemplates how best
to seduce Joan of Arc and goes on an abstract-expressionist date with Jackson Pollock. Like the white shirt in the title, these poems are crisp, seductive
and a little bit sweaty.

White Shirt / Frontenac House, April 2010

ISBN: 978-1-897181-40-9
Price: $15.95

Post-launch ritual

5 minutes avec chemise blanche

on the nightstand:

The Best Day The Worst Day; Life With Jane Kenyon by Donald Hall;
The Bruise by Magdalena Zurawski; The Measure of Paris by Stephen Scobie

on the iPod:

amy winehouse; eartha kitt; dusty springfield; chris knox; laura love;
j.d. souther; the kinks

what white shirt had for breakfast:

two pieces of whole grain toast with peanut butter and blueberry jam;
two coffees with homo milk; one glorious large and lovely purple plum

SAY WORD / SAY WHAT?:

‘A poem begins with a lump in the throat’

~ Robert Frost

cufflinks of the week:

frontenac house authors dinner (tuesday); lunch with old friends at terroni on queen street (wednesday); hangin’ with family (thursday); art gallery of ontario (friday).

the gospel according to white shirt:

… she wants rowboat love
jungle sex
an end to the sunflower dreams
and a religion that lets people feel good about themselves
(sometimes, page 47)