About the book
About the author
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.
The Graveyard Lives Inside You
You taste bone in each sip of water. News-
print, bits of the previous century, straw, musk.
Those who did or didn’t make a sound when they died,
who whimpered, who trumpeted, who hit the road jack,
who refused to go gently, day or night; those
whose eyes shot forth, whose pores cried
blood, phlegm, urea, whose guillotined heads
flew, whose sponge fed the mad cow, whose
heart kissed a bullet, whose lips turned black.
You know it as Infinite dusk.
You’re trapped in the cage,
the weather, life, against you:
sleet’s ermine shawl,
groundhogs making meat
of your pumpkin. It’s defeat
everywhere you look:
lean muskrat gardens, graveyards
of mangled sinks and telephones.
Not once, but twice, you mistook
your son for an iPod.
You’re desperate to believe in God
but what inhabits you, locked
behind a chain-link fence
is the blinkety-blank road,
the same slovenly dog
mutating into something bigger
and uglier each day
hoarding the inadequate light.
You long to wake up just once
with an original thought
in your head, an image,
some beautiful impossibility
: paper oranges.
I’ll know when to pack up and call it a life.
Plumbing the depths of my January cocoon
I’ll do it in style, in my best summer whites.
Don’t expect it to be on Saturday night,
it might be midweek, say Tuesday
in a raging snowstorm. Instinct will tell me
the time has come to put it away
in the bottom drawer with my winter wools.
A bright blue package will arrive with an invitation
to comb the dumpster for my island paradise–
ferns and wild banana trees, beatnik fauna.
Coconuts growing sideways beneath the lucid stars.
I’ll pour a flute of pomegranate wine,
watch Casablanca one last time.
The room floating, the mind bathed
in Gauguin’s aquarium light.
On the runway, a plane will be waiting.
Point of No Return
You’re at that point on the journey, familiarity
waning with every click of the speedometer.
You no longer know which negligible
pile of brick is actually your old house.
It could take days to find your way back,
despite the elastic light. The spaniel you left
pattering in the sprinkler
might as well be dead for all he remembers you.
It takes all your effort just to call him,
and even then, his name catches in your throat
like a small burr, gets belligerent
with the wind, jousting a little
before getting sucked under your Michelins.
Through the rearview mirror,
you’re suddenly aware of firewood
jumping off your truck, a couple
of grey canisters, your old man’s tackle.
You don’t even care
that you are swerving. What was once a dot
on the map is now less than an afterthought,
a box of spare parts
banging together in the dark:
your neglected porch swing, a moth angry
with its lightbulb. Right now,
the instant is all you know: the sun
breaking out up ahead, contented fieldstone.
An elm in the distance, springing new growth.
The secret is not looking back.
“The elevation of the fragment, as a writer’s means of portraying his or her world, has become the literary verification of the 20th century’s recognition of the broken nature of perception. It’s a technique not only for bringing the written…” >>
“Divided into three sections, Paper Oranges comes as a poetic response to Waiting for Godot’s Vladimir and Estragon. Souaid has a knack for assembling clips and images, creating depth from a scattered handful. Her words are carefully plucked, and her…” >>
— Grasshopper Reads
“Souaid's Paper Oranges is a thought-provoking, resonant response to the plight of Samuel Beckett's Vladimir and Estragon, two men who waste their lives and potential fruitlessly waiting for an absent and elusive Godot. These poems, each as engaging as the…” >>
— Poonam Bajwa Event
“Montreal writer Carolyn Marie Souaid's fifth book, Paper Oranges, is the kind you keep coming back to. Many of her lines have an aphoristic quality: "When you haven't done/ freedom in a while/ you forget/ what it sounds like."
— The Winnipeg Free Press