About the book

  • Shortlisted for the QWF A.M. Klein Poetry Award

1970. The FLQ has kidnapped and murdered Pierre Laporte. For the narrator, growing up in those days meant living through one of the darkest episodes in Canadian history—a time when army tanks rolled through the streets and bombings and other random acts of violence became l’ordre du jour.

Shortlisted for the QWF A.M. Klein Poetry Award, October is a collection of poetry set in the quiet Montreal suburb of Saint Lambert, where the clash between the "two solitudes" came to a head in 1970 with the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Pierre Laporte by the FLQ. For the narrator, growing up in those days meant living through one of the darkest episodes in Canadian history, a time when army tanks, bombings and other random acts of violence became l'ordre du jour.

October spans three decades of Quebec life, chronicling one woman's attempt to forge some kind of reconciliation between the "warring" cultures, to find the common ground of the French and the English. It is a personal, unabashed look at her own marriage to a French Quebecer which finds her straddling two worlds, two cultures, two very different mentalities. From start to end, echoes of the October Crisis are carefully woven into the text, a constant reminder that the fractious past is never very far behind.

About the author

Souaid, Carolyn Marie

Carolyn Marie Souaid has been writing and publishing poetry for over 20 years. The author of six books and the winner of the David McKeen Award for her first collection, Swimming into the Light, she has also been shortlisted for the A.M. Klein Prize and the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Much of her work deals with the bridging of worlds; the difficulty, perhaps the impossibility of it, but the necessity of the struggle. She has toured her work across Canada and in France. Since the 1990s, she has been a key figure on the Montreal literary scene, having co-produced two major local events, Poetry in Motion (the poetry-on-the-buses project) and the Circus of Words / Cirque des mots, a multidisciplinary, multilingual cabaret focusing on the "theatre" of poetry. Souaid is a founding member and editor of Poetry Quebec, an online magazine focusing on the English language poets and poetry of Quebec.

Excerpt

Je Me Souviens 

You say necessary, but unjustifiable.
I call it murder, plain as day.

It's like walking down the street together,
but being in two different afternoons.

Long ago, at the Santa Parade, you clung
piggy-backed to your father
gazing smack into the world he saw- broken streets
thinly veiled as Christmas. Kids from the orphanage
pawing Ogilvy's window, elves in warm plaids
winking and waving at them from a conveyor belt.

A nobody on the corner, begging for a dime
gloves bitten off at the thumbs.

Though we haven't crossed paths yet—won't for 20 years—
I'm in that holiday store with my mother
shopping for patent leather shoes.
A string is looped around my finger.
Floating at the end of it
a lazy red balloon.

Outside in the scant light, your dad grips your ankles tightly.
Warns you to pay attention, never to let go.

The huge snowflakes in his hair
brighter than the stars.

Reviews

Those who remember the stylish introspection and hushed elegance of Montrealer Carolyn Marie Souaid's debut, Swimming into the Light, will be surprised by her second collection, October. The memory of Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte's murder (he was killed on… >>

The Montreal Gazette

Not often are the divisions that beset and define our country played out in the work of a single poet. Carolyn Marie Souaid is a brave exception. Her tender, hurting poems show what can happen when family politics incarnate so… >>

— Mark Abley

Thematic books, whether poetry or short fiction, have a built-in potential liability. Typically, the entire book strictly conforms to a specified theme. (For example, all the stories are about adultery.) But if the theme is merely suggested, if only the… >>

— Louise Fabiani Montreal Review of Books


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