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Saturday Poetry with Lisa Robertson

Saturday Poetry with Lisa Robertson

By Coach House Date: April 11, 2020

For today's edition of Saturday Poetry we have acclaimed poet Lisa Robertson, whose debut novel, The Baudelaire Fractal, we published earlier this year, discussing a poem from Lisa Robertson's Magenta Soul WhipIf you enjoy the excerpt below, pick up the book to read the rest. 


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Maybe I was trying to make sense of an immigration, my own immigration. It began as a romance and turned into a decade-long shock. I had brought my beloved dog, Angus, with me, from Vancouver to Paris. He was a big rowdy aging mutt. The territory of his thriving was the back alleys of East Van. He died within a year, just after I had moved from the city to the village. I felt it was my own life that was lost.

Dirk Bogarde is in here because he wrote books about living in rural France in the seventies. I would find these cheap paperbacks at the local thrift store, and they were very diverting. He rescued street dogs from Italy while he was filming The Damned. Part of living in Europe is about trying to understand the closeness of Fascism to the present. And what was marriage anyways.

Don’t you think of the movies as cosmological events? Dogs spoke to me through movies. Since now I was a dead immigrant, I studied movies for information about death and how to continue. Think of the scene in Cassavetes’ Love Streams, where Gena Rowlands is at her brother’s house during the crazy storm, and the big honey-coloured dog she has brought home with her transforms into a man. He’s a dog who is a man who is calmly sitting in an armchair. He’s blond and tanned and silent and wise. He just gazes at her. Everything will be all right.


Lisa Robertson is a Canadian poet and essayist currently living in France. Born in Toronto in 1961, she was a longtime resident of Vancouver, where in the early 90s she began writing, publishing and collaborating in a community of artists and poets that included Artspeak Gallery and The Kootenay School of Writing. She has continued these activities for 30 years, publishing books, leaflets and posters, translating poetry and linguistics from French, lecturing and teaching internationally, and continuing her ongoing study into the political constitution of lyric voice. In 2017 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Letters by Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and in 2018, the Foundation for the Contemporary Arts in NY awarded her the inaugural CD Wright Award in Poetry. She has taught at Cambridge University, Princeton, UC Berkeley, California College of the Arts, Piet Zwart Institute, Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and American University of Paris, as well as holding research and residency positions at institutions across Canada, the US, and Europe.