Sunday, April 13, 2014

Review of Muse

A review of Muse:

"Dawn Marie Kresan starts her collection Muse by offering us a brief biographical sketch of Elizabeth Siddal — and then Siddal becomes the central character in Kresan's opus...  Kresan doesn't limit the party to Pre-Raphaelite's like her husband and his crew, no, this discussion is opened up to a stove-weary Sylvia Plath and the ever loquacious Marilyn Monroe. Kresan is dead serious in her playfulness... Princess Diana, Anne Sexton and a score of other strong, dead, women of legend and passion pop up as Kresan hop-scotches her way through the culture of women and men, muse and mis-used. Kresan provides numerous and quite useful notes (something I generally highly disapprove of — but in this case it works and it is helpful) as well as a bibliography of source materials. And that may lead you to think that these works, this book, is academic in nature. It's not. The life of Elizabeth Siddal is re-imagined and given a new vocabulary by Dawn Marie Kresan. Siddal is a muse and vehicle for Kresan. The engaging conversation Kresan creates out of the mouths of these many female icons is as amusing as it is intelligent."

Read the entire review with some poem excerpts here: 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Funny Metaphors used by High School Students

I don't know where I found this, but I had it saved on my computer and thought it too funny not to share. Delighting in the spirit of bad writing and youth, I throw my own high school writing into the mix. It doesn't contain a metaphor but it is ridiculous and cheeky. I wrote a lot of satire in my youth, and I always amused myself (if no one else).

From Dawn's high school story:

"He is a talented artist. Working with simple gardening tools he is able to sculpt the most brilliant forms. When I first saw his work I nearly broke down in tears. He has the genius of Warhol combined with the depth and insight of Freud. In one of his most disturbing pieces, he uses the Garden Weasel as a representation of early childhood potty trauma."

Metaphors used by high school students: 

"Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two other sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master."

"His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free."

"He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it."

"The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't."

"McBride fell twelve stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup."

"The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and
Jeopardy comes on at 7:00p.m. instead of 7:30p.m."

"Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze."

"Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever."

"He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree."

"Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 pm, traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19pm, at a speed of 35 mph."

"The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper can."

"John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met."

 "The thunder was ominous sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play."

"Even in his last years, Grandpappy had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut."

"The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work."

"The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while."

"Oh, Jason, take me!" she panted, her breasts heaving like a college freshman on $1-a-beer night."

"He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something."

"Her artistic sense was exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from I Can't Believe It's Not Butter."

"She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up."

"It came down the stairs looking very much like something no one had ever seen before."

"The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant."

"The dandelion swayed in the gentle breeze like an oscillating electric fan set on medium."

"It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools."

"He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up."

"She was as easy as the TV Guide crossword."

 "Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser."

"She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef."

"It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall."

"Cogito ergo spud: I think, therefore I yam"

Saturday, April 5, 2014

On Being an Introvert

I thought this was funny and mostly true. I especially have a hard time explaining to family that social engagements are exhausting for me and I need time to prepare for them (and recover afterwards). They simply wear me out. I sometimes need a nap after. One thing not mentioned here, and (I think) most introverts are the same — I am hyper sensitive to sound and light. I also don't like people standing behind me. So a noisy place with bright lights and people running amok is pretty much a nightmare for me. I do it sometimes because I have to, but find it really annoying when people assume I am being difficult on purpose and I need to just "buck up." Trust me, the energy drain is real and I have felt it my entire life. As I have gotten older I go into protection mode more and more, recently going to great lengths to reduce the stress in my life. So if at a social gathering you see me with my back against the wall by myself, please leave me there for a few minutes and I'll come out and play when the energy in the room feels right to me. Either that, or bring me a strong drink.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Birds (1963): Tippi Hedren's Response

My poem, The Birds (1963): Tippi Hedren’s Response, was published in Queen's Quarterly recently. Here it is, although the line breaks will be messed up in this medium. I see things I would change now. Well, before my next collection comes out — the editing pen will strike!

The Birds (1963): Tippi Hedren’s Response

I heard you had a thing for blondes,
that you were a control freak, right down
to the Coco Chanel skirts your actresses wore.
But still, I signed.

How could I pass up
working with the brilliant Hitchock?

You assured me the birds
would be mechanical, that once I climbed
those ominous stairs, the camera stalking
voyeuristically, slowly creaked open the door  
to an attic full of rapacious ravens,
ready to swoop and snap and shriek—

I would not be harmed.

Instead, I endured five days of men flinging
frightened creatures at me—seagulls, ravens and crows.
One poor thing,
   scared out of its wits, bit my cheek
   hard, barely missing my eye. Exhausted,

my heart, a pounding bird-song, shriveled and sank.
I slumped to the floor and cried.

The prop men, whose own beefy fingers
were well protected by thick gloves, watched
me, silent, not knowing what to say or how to comfort.
The camera still rolling.

Watch the woman break down,
have her moment.

Real life is stranger than fiction.
For weeks after that shoot, I was in disarray.
The doctor ordered me time away from work, haunted
by nightmares filled with flapping frantic wings.
Much like my character, my mind
altered. I lashed out at unseen dangers.

I should have listened
to the warnings. Never signed. Ruined
after two films. No one would hire me.
You wouldn’t let them. Your contract my gilded cage.
You’d rather pay me not to work than let me go
to someone else. I rebuffed

your advances, and for that, you took revenge.
My career gutted and strung up like a dead bird.

In your film, you made the birds predatory,
gently cooing, all the while gathering like a dark
cloud. They perch in model bird-like behaviour,
seemingly innocent as they grow in numbers, steadily,
behind the scene. Birds with a mind for trouble-
making, stealthily preparing for the next attack.
But those are the birds of nightmares,
the birds you created.

The truth was
they were victims too.
In 1961, Monterey Bay, hundreds of birds battered
themselves into houses,
 the streets littered
with their seizured broken bodies.

Afterwards, scientists confirmed their poisoning.
Domoic acid found in the anchovies and squid they ate.
Mass avian insanity caused by a toxin producing algae
leaked from a faulty septic tank.

But fiction doesn’t care for truth,
only the angle the camera takes. Its slant
makes strong women into children and sexual
casualties. I wish I could smash this glass
from all around me,
break free of this fantastic fear.
Be like those wild birds you filmed—
fluid and fierce.

But that too was a lie.

I watch a cloud of gulls flood across sea-bound waves.
The wind wound and fevered. I envy their flight,
their freedom to go where whirring wings take them.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ariel Gordon: Poet most Googled by Perverts

Ariel makes me laugh. I don't always meet my authors in person, but I met Ariel twice. Once at Sage Hill when we were, by coincidence, both attending poetry workshops and then at her book launch in Winnipeg that coincided with the LPG sales conference. I remember when we said goodbye she picked me right off the ground and swung me around, murmuring something about breaking me. But Ariel is like that. Funny, sometimes brash, other times feisty, but always authentic. I had picked her manuscript out of the slush pile in 2006 and published her chapbook in 2008, then a trade collection in 2010, and her second collection is coming out this spring. I had never heard of Ariel Gordon all those years ago, and I'm thrilled of any role I have played in bringing her poetry to a larger audience. But I have no doubt this would have happened regardless. She is a force. Mostly, our correspondence is through email, but even through this limited medium I sense her drive. So keep doing what you are doing Ariel Gordon, and be proud to be the poet-most-googled-by-perverts. There are many more tit poems and hump poems in your future. An ode to the penis perhaps?

Reprint from:


"So...I know that I once joked, while touring Hump, that I was the poet-most-Googled-by-perverts. (It was because I'd posted an early draft of my "Tit Poem" here to the blog and, surprisingly, there's a global need for poems about boobies.) But even so, I wasn't completely prepared for the headline of this Uniter article. But the funny thing is...I'm not mad."

Monday, December 2, 2013

Stepping down as Palimpsest's publisher

Palimpsest Press is pleased to announce the appointment of Aimée Parent Dunn to the position of publisher at Palimpsest Press Incorporated. Aimée has been an integral part of Palimpsest for the past year and a half, working in various capacities—including editor, publicist, event coordinator, and publishing assistant. She holds a degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Windsor and is currently acquiring a graduate Certificate in Publishing from Ryerson University. Aimée brings with her an extensive history in editing experience. She is excited to assume her new position and to continue to build on the success that Palimpsest Press has achieved in the literary community. Dawn Kresan will continue to play a vital role in her position as in-house graphic designer and poetry editor. She will assist Aimée as a publishing consultant for the next year. Palimpsest Press will continue to be a regional press located in the Windsor /Essex County district, and will continue its mandate to produce quality poetry in both trade and limited editions and select nonfiction titles that deal with poetics, the writing life, and cultural criticism. Jim Johnstone and Carmine Starnino will remain in their positions as freelance editors for Palimpsest. Sales representation will continue to be provided by the Manda Group of Canada with distribution services through LitDistCo. All 2014-2015 contracts will be honoured. The change over will be effective as of January 2014.

See the listing under "personal change" on Quill blog:

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cover design for The Mystery Shopping Cart

You can't call a book The Mystery Shopping Cart without putting a shopping cart on the cover. I choice this image because I thought the watery cart with its sense of reflection and curious circumstance was intriguing. For the design I doubled this sense of reflection by making the cart mirror itself in the front and back covers.

The challenge with the text was that the title was so long. I used different sizes and weights to create a balanced look that loosely follows the lines of the trees. I small caped the subtitle and added some style and colour with Anita's name.