Snow Formations

Snow Formations

Poetry

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About the book

  • Shortlisted for the QWF A.M. Klein Poetry Award
Loosely based on Souaid’s own experience, Snow Formations takes an unflinching look at the modern Inuit world. Steeped in contradiction, this is Canada’s North with all its trappings: igloos and pool halls, raw meat and radio, dogsleds and diapers. The North may be great and white, but it is not always pretty.

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

Symposium

We handed them God on a silver platter.
Do you know it took Him only one day to annihilate
the past? Which, of course, allowed them
to start over again.

In a flash,

He gave them light and a place to gather:
Pool halls and greasy shacks.
The world sugared white.

We took up the slack.

Served up their heart's desire: Export A
and an excuse to get up in the morning.
Vinegar on fries. Cameras to seize the day:

Dogs coveting cigarette butts,
An Elder's rotten keyboard of teeth.

We gave them mercantile lust
and the cunning
to turn 4,000 savage years
into art.

See that sky up there? That was us, too.

We gave them television,
liberalism, tampons, Pampers,
Pop tarts, tooth paste, acne, tartrazine.
Did I mention Sugar-pops? Xanthan gum,
Hubba Bubba, Boy George,
Ringo, Paul, John, and Love, all they needed.
With protection (which, of course, they still won't use).
The rest just came: Woodstock, Hollywood, the World
Wide Web.

The nerve of them saying we stole their land.
Such a small thing.

 

The Trouble with Being Dead

It's the ones walking around you have to worry about.
All flash and strut, but no
heart. Dried-up corn for eyes.
Those dead sleep a long time, midnight stuffing
its black straw into their skulls.

Any one of them will tell you the same thing:
Life falls away in blotches, whole bits at a time
blanking out, like a puzzle
unpiecing itself. Withering into a prairie
for scarecrows, tattered half-men with nothing to do
but scratch around the blueless dark.

And if they'd chosen another path?
Sunnier and more passionate. An ear for the inner voices
talking to them, the tingling air
along the spine.

Just for a moment, imagine
giving into your lust, your sequined pangs.
Joy. Acute jags of glass in the wrist.

The trouble with being dead is what you miss:
tin-cold lakewater. The cashmere feel
of a last blurt of blood down the chin.
What you end up settling for: life
as a balance sheet, friends who are either
assets or liabilities.

How that peony in a jar of water
might as well be the wad of fuzz in a senile brain.

For all the impact it has.

Reviews

The collection Snow Formations is loosely based on Carolyn Marie Souaid's own experiences in Inuit settlements along the Hudson-Ungava coast in Northern Canada.

Souaid's first two books were both short-listed for Quebec's A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry.… >>

The Montreal Gazette

Both the mood and method of St. Lambert, Quebec poet Carolyn Marie Souaid's Snow Formations, her third collection, are entirely different. Based on her experiences teaching in northern Quebec, it features pared-down, imagistic intensity and an ironic tone. The first… >>

The Toronto Star

Carolyn Souaid's book is deeply involved with the Canadian North, specifically the Ungava coast, where she spent three years as a teacher.  She daringly modernizes an important Inuit story in a set of poems, "Sedna: An Inuit Myth (Appropriated)," and… >>

— Bert Almon Montreal Review of Books


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