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

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

 

50 words

50wordsSpatherdab

I’m thrilled to be part of this new motion poem video project by Randall Edwards. 50 words made its debut on March 31, with my poem Begin.

12 poets were asked to pen a 50-word poem on the theme of ‘Beginnings.’ PRECISELY 50 words. No easy task, as it turns out.

We laid down the vocal tracks in my kitchen last spring because I was too fragile from emergency surgery blah blah blah to venture out to Randy’s studio. He worked all the magic with sound and visuals. The result is this amazing work incorporating black&white images from my favourite place on earth, Paris.

I must say, it feels great to be out in the world of art and poetry again.

A new 50-word motion poem will be featured each month.

UPDATE: The second installment is up, featuring Wolfgang Carstens (Awake).

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.

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?