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Cross-pollinating ideas

Brenda Leifso read poems from her new manuscript Arsenic Hour, named after that metabolic dip in the afternoon that makes you want to either scream and quit or pour a gin and light a cigarette and let lips get loose. Some of the poems revolve around the profoundness of family. Her last book was Daughters of Men (Brick Books, 2008). Her poems include the fierce scene of motherhood loving the joy of a child’s affection and pivoting to protection as her child is under threat. A powerfully done poem.

She formerly was head editor with PRISM international. Her essay will soon be up at Women Doing Literary Things, a blog that does weekly column profiling women writers. A neat and needed resource.

group of 3
rob mclennan and two of the other readers of the night: Aurian Haller and Teresa Yang.

Teresa’s back after giving a reading at the end of last year. She too has some tightly worked phrases and lyricalness. Hopefully they’ll be collected into a chapbook soon.

There was a travel poem about a bird. Saying that in itself conveys nothing I suppose, but it is all in the telling with the means she showed. Unfortunately my handscribles are nearly illegible. In her poem responding to the story of Odysseus were the lines,

[…] and you
were no longer young. Aged as you were
ladies still placed their hands on your chest
certain loneliness could be filled.

break time

Aurian Haller writes and performs with The Aurian Haller Band and works as an arts consultant and music teacher for the Anglophone school board in Quebec City. Here’s an interview of him in The Wig in which he talks about the alternative to write what you know — write what you’re curious about.

His book of poems song of the taxidermist (Goose Lane, 2011) caused a little scramble in the room as he was reading. rob had introduced him saying there was only one copy of his book brought out for the evening. As Haller read one person booted across the room to snatch the copy. Another audience member noticed the stack and grabbed a copy from there to get them before they all went. It seemed to be a healthy run of sales when he did close the reading. See if you’ll make a snap decision yourself. Here’s a sample excerpt from a poem of p. 31 entitled, “L’Habitante”


Paint these walls. Wake up
in Peking orange.

Morning in the new room,
hand on the plaster, you are
transported. Spring is this decisive.

You worry out house
as if to convince walls
the roof can support itself.
They must think up something else to
stand for.

Curtains like old dresses
hemmed up (pink knees exposed);
the hat tree’s suspect foot; mint
sofa sulking in the hall
like an ex-husband
back for the blender, his mother’s china —

And it goes over for more than a page more with these pivots that are unexpected and yet fitting and following once you sit what’s around that bend. It’s as if his mind is enacting the river’s movement, as he says in an ekphrastic poem of a painting Untitled, 1982 (p. 26) “The way the river bends makes slow things / sudden”.

Related posts:

  1. Cross-pollinating ideas Interview between myself and Kevin Spenst: thoughts on the editing process. Marcus McCann mentioned in his poetics talk at versefest last night, you can have dissemination of ideas or control...
  2. Poetry Clippings (cross-posted) At Cure for Melancholy Repeat your name often enough to inure yourself to its attachments. Repeat your name in ludicrous voices. Give your name to others so they might abuse...

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