Join us for a reading from two new poetry collections at the Twisted Poets Literary Salon – The Girls with Stone Faces by Arleen Paré and Cries from the Ark by Dan MacIsaac.
The Girls with Stone Faces by Arleen Paré – A long poem memorializing the art and lives of sculptors Frances Loring and Florence Wyle
Arleen Paré, in her first book-length poem after her Governor General Literary Award–winning Lake of Two Mountains, turns her cool, benevolent eye to the shared lives of Florence Wyle and Frances Loring, two of Canada’s greatest artists, whose sculptures she comes face to face with at the National Gallery of Canada. In the guise of a curator, Paré takes us on a moving, carefully structured tour through the rooms where their work is displayed, the Gallery’s walls falling away to travel in time to Chicago (where they met at art school and fell in love in the 1910s), New York, and Toronto (where they lived and worked for the next six decades). Along the way, Paré looks at fashions in art, the politics of gender, and the love that longtime proximity calls forth in us. The Girls with Stone Faces is one of the finest collections of poetry about the lives of artists—and most importantly their work—to appear in Canada in many years.
Although Wyle and Loring were well known during their lifetimes, they have dropped out of common memory. Paré’s collection is art loving art, woman loving women, words loving shape, poetry loving stone, the curve of jaw, the trajectory of days.
“… Like the sculpted female figures she describes as ‘tacking their bodies against the history of storm,’ Paré has positioned her own graceful, finely chiselled lines to recast the history of women
in art, in society, in love.” —Anita Lahey
“… A distinctive and memorable book, sympathetic and gloriously questioning.” —Stephanie Bolster
Arleen Paré’s first book, Paper Trail, was nominated for the Dorothy Livesay BC Book Award for Poetry and won the Victoria Butler Book Prize in 2008. Leaving Now, a novel, was released in 2012. Lake of Two Mountains, her third book, won the 2014 Governor General’s Award for Poetry, was nominated for the Victoria Butler Book Prize, and won the CBC Bookie Award. Paré’s latest poetry collection, He Leaves His Face in the Funeral Car was published in 2015. She lives in Victoria with her partner of 36 years. The Girls with Stone Faces is her fourth poetry collection.
Cries from the Ark by Dan MacIsaac – A pitch-perfect debut and a call to act in the service of Earth through radiant attention
Humankind, at present, has breached floodgates that have only been breached before in ancient stories of angry gods, or so far back on geologic and biological timelines as to seem more past than past. Against this catastrophic backdrop (at the end of consolations, at the high-water mark), and equipped with a periscopic eye and a sublime metaphorical reach, poet Dan MacIsaac has crowded his debut vessel with sloths and gipsy-birds, mummified remains and bumbling explorers, German expressionists and Neolithic cave-painters.
MacIsaac knows that in order to render a thing in language, description itself must be open to metamorphosis and transformation; each thing must be seen alongside, overtop of, and underneath everything else that has been seen. With the predominant “I” of so many poetic debuts almost entirely absent, Cries from the Ark is catalogue and cartography of our common mortal—and moral—lot.
“These poems are fecund as black dirt, as carnal and joyous. Each piece is an owl pellet, a concentrate of bone and tuft, of bison, auk and Beothuk. Not since Eric Ormsby’s Araby have I read a book so empathic and so glossarily rich. Fair warning, MacIsaac: I’ll be stealing words from you for years.”
“MacIsaac sings a raven’s work, sings the guts from our myths, sings our world with the breath that ‘for a century/ of centuries / only the wild grass / remembered.’ Present but acquainted with antiquity, MacIsaac’s instrument is our own breathing as we say these poems of reverence to ourselves.”
Raised on Vancouver Island, Dan MacIsaac is a third-generation lawyer and served for ten years as a director on the board of the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria. His poetry, verse translations, and fiction have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals and magazines. One of his stories was short-listed for the 2009 CBC Literary Awards, one of his poems received the 2014 Foley Prize from America Magazine, and another poem was short-listed for the 2015 Walrus Poetry Prize. He lives in Victoria.