Richard Harrison book launch

Poetry reading and book signing to launch Richard Harrison’s new book,
On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood (Wolsak & Wynn). 
Also reading: Nasra Adem, Laurie MacFayden, Thomas Wharton
WHEN: ThursdayDec. 1, 2016; 7pm-830pm
WHERE: ChVrch of John, 10260 103 St, Edmonton

THE READERS


Richard Harrison – On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood
Richard Harrison is an award-winning poet, essayist and editor. His six books of poetry include Big Breath of a Wish, poems about his daughter’s acquisition of language, and Hero of the Play, poems in the language of hockey. He has published writings on literary criticism, comic culture, creative writing and mathematics. Richard also contributes to the scholarship on the superhero: with MRU colleague Lee Easton, he co-authored the book of essays, Secret Identity Reader (2010). Richard teaches composition, creative writing (poetry), and comics and graphic novels. After 11 years, Richard Harrison returns to poetry with a moving tribute to his late father in On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood.

The great Alberta flood of 2013 slides through Richard Harrison’s latest collection, its rising waters pulling his books of poetry off their shelves, washing the ink from letters kept in boxes in the basement and threatening to carry off his father’s ashes. On these waters float Harrison’s mourning for his father, who suffered a form of dementia later in life but never forgot the poems he’d memorized as a young man. Alongside these, the waters also carry Harrison’s love of comic books, his struggles with the haiku and his willingness to stay in the game, “to try again.” Combining elements of memoir, elegy, lyrical essay and personal correspondence, On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood is a generous and enchanting book, one that leaves you, like the poet, thinking about the way “characters in a novel can escape anything/except their story.”

Nasra Adem
Nasra Adem, 22, is a multidisciplinary artist and current Youth Poet Laureate of Edmonton. She has performed at poetry and spoken word festivals across North America. Nasra studied musical theatre at MacEwan University and is  the founder of Sister 2 Sister: a monthly showcase of women artists of colour and the curator for Black Arts Matter, Edmonton’s first all-Black arts festival. Devoted to creative and spiritual authenticity, Nasra is uses her artistic practice as a way of breaking barriers, reimagining realities and creating forward momentum within her communities.
Laurie MacFayden
Laurie MacFayden is an Edmonton-based poet, visual artist and journalist. In addition to two award-winning books of poetry, Kissing Keeps Us Afloat and White Shirt, her writing has appeared in The New QuarterlyFreeFall, Queering the Way, Alberta Views, and online at canadianpoetries.com and DailyHaiku. Her work has been performed in Edmonton’s Loud & Queer Cabaret, Skirts Afire herArts Festival, Read and Write With Pride, and Calgary’s Q the Arts cultural festival. Her third book with Frontenac House, You Can’t Tell, will be released in September 2017.
Thomas Wharton  
Thomas Wharton’s most recent book is Rutherford the Time-Travelling Moose, a children’s story about the history of Edmonton. His first novel, Icefields, won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book, Canada/Caribbean division, and the inaugural Banff Mountain Book grand prize. His second novel, Salamander, was shortlisted for the Governor-General’s Literary Award and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. He has published a three-volume fantasy for younger readers, The Perilous Realm. He is currently working on a collection of short fiction.

i dreamed this gorgeous thing

gorgeous3

i dreamed this gorgeous thing
assumed it was you
but maybe it was just a sunflower
masquerading as a star

maybe it was another black bird
with metallic purple highlights
and a nest of shiny spoons

maybe it was someone from the other side,
an aunt or a gifted grandmother
pushing across waves of candyfloss love
with a hint of lily of the valley

maybe it was space creatures picking at my brain,
pretending to be a healing stone
and faking the gorgeous feeling
maybe it was the brandy nightcap,
colouring the gorgeous with a slow amber burn
and balloon lifting

maybe this gorgeous thing was my own heart,
singing its own gorgeous song
the one it sings when it thinks everyone has gone away

maybe this gorgeous dreaming thing
was a dream within a gorgeous dream
and edith piaf was floating above my pillow
crooning in my ear about regrets and her gorgeous lover
maybe piaf was trying to tell me
it’s time to paint the sparrows

maybe the gorgeous thing was all about the waking
maybe we are all gorgeous, gleaming souls
and need to be reminded of this
maybe the soft air
maybe the cats on the end of the bed
maybe the creaking roof, the kitchen sprites

maybe my gorgeous dream thing
was a big clue with regard
to the rest of my big gorgeous life
maybe it was the collective unconscious
feeling the need to inflict
a playful nudge nudge, wink wink
maybe it was god or someone of that ilk
sprinkling a smattering of divine glitter
onto my flannel sheets
so i would think all is right with the world
even as the dream’s frozen edges
revealed themselves to be grey and sombre blue

maybe that gorgeous dream
was not meant to be analysed to death.
maybe just accept its gorgeous fleeting presence
and move on.

maybe put away the butterfly net
maybe sleep will come again
and i will dream another gorgeous thing before i die.

 

march 24, 2012
prompt: i dreamed this gorgeous thing: franz wright

_______________________________

Below The Line:

Gorgeous is not something you can hold in your hand

11/13/15

bridgelocks2

there is a bridge covered in locks
some with no keys, some sealed with long-forgotten combinations
some quietly closed with ribbons, with twine

there is a cathedral owned by gargoyles
pigeons and peasants
there is a tomb covered in small stones
flower petals, metro tickets, teeth, candy, gratitude
another tomb queerly smothered in lipstick kisses
still another dares us to break on through
to the other side

i got pooped on by a bird
while gazing up at the bell tower of notre dame
there are few times in a life you get that lucky
so i took this as a great and good sign

there is an art store on blvd. edgar quinet
right beside cynthia’s house of croissants
and confiture and catacomb secrets
the five-spoked wheel of montparnasse will never be solved

there are names that will forever soothe me
raspail. vavin. les gobelins.
place de la concorde. sacre-couer.
gare du nord. austerlitz.
trocadero.
this place felt like home the first time i breathed
in its sexy hot metal tang, its pink-grey scaffolding,
its sour-sweet sewer pong, its metro b.o.,
its cafe au lait, its legendary light
its arrogant smirk

the louvre. d’orsee. marmattan. pompidou.
l’orangerie. champs-elysees. l’arc du triomphe.
roland garros. louis quatorze.
piaf. monet. manet. dufy.
vincent slept here, and pablo.
ernest. gertrude and alice. toulouse lautrec.
all the genius ghosts.

rue mouffetard. the latin quarter. les halles. defence.
it’s shakespeare & co., stained glass and merlot.
it’s vervaine & lemongrass soap, striped marine shirts
and blue ascots. it’s berets and bastille,
brie on a baguette, pain au chocolat
steak-frites and pickpockets and a plethora of bad smells.

and it’s love.
it’s love and romance, this city of light
this city of forever light in your heart, your essenceGauloises
amour mama, not cheap display
you either love it or hate it,
this infuriating frustrating glorious
demon-angel of a city

it’s bonne mama abricots on a still-warm,
fall-apart-in-your-hands pastry
it’s slinky underwear and stilettos and a million androgynous scarves
it’s drinking wine from the bottle on your tiny front step
perfume and tulips in the tuileries
fountains and bees, creperies and gauloises
veuve-cliquot and trains and bonjour, allo, d’accord, d’accord

it’s anguish and liberte and fraternite
it’s haughty and magnifique and cold
it’s paris and it’s gorgeous
it’s paris and it’s burning

it’s a man on a street piano playing imagine
nothing to kill or die for
no religion too
imagine all the people
living life in peace
to a broken
weeping world

 

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