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!)

Never out of style

White Shirt of the Week

‘The white shirt is now an omnipresent part of the fashion scene, a wardrobe staple
of the world’s most stylish women.’

Not to mention the world’s most stylish sax players…

I’ll be reading from White Shirt on Saturday, Dec. 4 as part of the ‘Book Lover’s Christmas Sale’ at Stanley Milner Library (Centennial Room, lower level).

It’s a Writers Guild of Alberta event, from noon to 5 p.m., and more than 40 authors will be on site to sign their wares, with more than 100 titles — plus CDs, bookmarks and other specialty items — up for grabs.

I’m slotted into a poetry trifecta with Alice Major and Peter Midgley from 2:30 to 3 p.m. The complete reading and signing schedule is available here.

White Shirt (Frontenac House, $16) has been long-listed for the Alberta Readers Choice Awards.


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.


“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


‘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)


you wrote that you looking moped rental and chicago
here you have all what I found:
put down your brush
comet holds the secret to life
after he cheats
cup of tea the answer
why women really love wearing shoes
tori spelling’s dress: sad, limp and purple
how long does meat keep in your fridge?
kim kardashian denies causing stench on airplane
discovery hints at real aliens
my septic guy told me
bad foods that are good
four steps to a better shave
five things never to put in a dishwasher
angelina jolie is turning shiloh into a boy
zombie outbreak likely to lead to collapse of civilization
unless dealt with quickly, university of ottawa students conclude

Frontenac/Dektet poets climbin’ the charts

Pages On Kensington’s (Calgary) Bestseller List

(May 2, 2010)

  • Original Edition Fiction and Poetry

1. Beatrice and Virgil – Yann Martel

2. Other Family – Joanna Trollope

3. Love Market – Carol Mason

4. Hypoderm – Weyman Chan

5. Children of Ararat – Keith Garebian

6. Fallacies of Motion – William Nichols

7. (Sic) – Nikki Reimer

8. Confessions of an Empty Purse – S. McDonald

9. White Shirt – Laurie MacFayden

10. Solar – Ian McEwan

5 minutes avec chemise blanche

on the nightstand:

outliers by malcolm gladwell; left hook by george bowering

on the iPod:

david gray; emmylou harris; the supremes; abba; kd lang; the fugitives; justin rutledge; kate rusby; laura love; rufus wainwright

what white shirt had for breakfast:

egg, potato, spinach & red bean burrito; two coffees with homo milk


‘If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off,
I know that is poetry.’

~ Emily Dickinson

cufflinks of the week:

garlic grilled cheese sandwich at cafe mosaic; raving poets open-mic at the kasbar (wednesday) jocko benoit at greenwoods’ bookshoppe (thursday).

the gospel according to white shirt:

… are you getting any REM sleep, greenland?
(indelirium, page 60)

the raving poets / kasbar nights

from the ‘born to write’ series  … 



if the bruising

if the whiskeyupside-hrts
flowed back in the bottle
if the bruising
branded the abuser

if the bite
if the cold
if the rip cord
if the night

if the sleepwalking
if the fist
if the charm
if the knife

if the wishing
if the dance
if the seduction
if the snake hair

if the pleasure
if the shock treatment
if the conjurer
if the memory

if the death card
if the half moon
if the fallen
if the believer

if the screaming
if the nail
if the kind word
if the redemption

if the mercy kill
if the tainted
if the bleeding
if the comfort

if the breathless
if the standing
if the quicken
if the mask

if hand on mouth
if broken bone
if strip mine
if purple rage

if jealousy
if smacking lip
if hatred
if the obscene

if the baby
if the connection
if deliverance
if the hard kiss

if the “go faster”
if the forbidden
if the bad touch
if the hurricane

if the perfection
if the tiger eye
if the simple truth
if the forgiveness