Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lucy Locket

From the V&A:

Lucy Locket lost her pocket
Kitty Fisher found it
Not a penny was there in it
Only a ribbon round it

"This is a well-known nursery rhyme, but what does it mean? How can you 'lose' a pocket and why would it have a ribbon around it? The rhyme refers to a time when women's pockets weren't sewn on the outside or into the seams of their clothes as they are today. Until the middle of the 19th century, pockets for women were a separate item and they were worn tied around with waist with a tie or string."

The section on the contents of pockets is wonderful:
"No mobile phones, car keys, credit cards or palm pilots in the 18th century! Nevertheless, women kept a wide variety of objects in their pockets. In the days when people often shared bedrooms and household furniture, a pocket was sometimes the only private, safe place for small personal possessions."

The list of what may be carried in a pocket included - money, mirror, snuff box, bonbons, keys, spectacles, diary, jewellery, thimble, pincushion, comb, scent bottle, biscuit crumbs, orange, apple, needle case, keys, and, my personal favorite, a bottle of gin. Ahhh, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Keep Calm and Carry On

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Capacious Project - a. rawlings

a.rawlings’ first book, Wide slumber for lepidopterists (Coach House Books, 2006), documents a night in the life of Northern Ontario. rawlings co-edited Shift & Switch: New Canadian Poetry (The Mercury Press, 2005), co-organized The Lexiconjury Reading Series (2001-6), hosted Heart of a Poet (2005), and facilitates sound/text/movement workshops (2003-now). Her escapist fantasies feature kynlíf með álfum, Ghentish snails, and a theremin; and yes, someday she will escape. Meanwhile she blogs here.


Where do bags come from? Theories. From
where do bags come? Favours. Bags
come from where? Bags
are born of pre-existing bags. Bags
cannot spontaneously generate. Bags
beget bags. Bags beget bags. Bags
begat bags. Bags begat bags. Bags
beget bags. Bagulosis. Baguloid.
Bagular. Baginal. Bagonella.
Baggery. Bagutations.
Bagubrious. Bagurious.
Bag nodes. Baggle.
Baggify. Bagacious.
Bagiculture. Baggid. A bag
is a water-based compartment
comprised of chemicals. Thus concludes
today's lesson.

Read more about the Capacious Project here.
To view all the contributions to the project go

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Book Purse Trend

You may recall the book purses I posted a while back from Rebound Designs. I've since come across instructions online for making your own book purse, but I don't have that level of skill. I'll be sticking to the macaroni and and gold spray paint for the Christmas gifts I'm making. Or maybe I'll order one from Etsy - and Retrograndma. Here are a few more links I came across in my online wanderings:

This one is from Great Green Goods and is made from recycled children's books.

Twilight is from Make It and Take It. More of their book purses here.

Check out Mugwump's book bags.

I think my fave out of the current bunch comes once again from Rebound Designs, the very stylish Chicago Manual of Style Purse.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I just found this link to a couple of poems by Iman Mersal that I thought I'd share. Her new volume, These are not Oranges, My Love, has been published by Sheep Meadow Press. Iman will be launching her book in Edmonton at Audrey's, rumour has it. I don't have the date yet, but will pass it along when I do.

A friend was able to get a copy through Audrey's, but I thought I'd get mine faster through amazon and am still waiting! Moral of the story - buy local, support your independent bookstore.

What books of poetry are on your wish list? I want the new Margaret Christakos, What Stirs, Quick by Anne Simpson, and of course the book by Iman. I have a stack to go through first before I'm allowing myself to indulge beyond this though.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Calm Things - The Blog

Pears, Evening, by Robert Lemay

I've been thinking about creating an online resource for all things still life for some time now. I finally gave in to the impulse and created a new blog a few days ago. It seemed appropriate to name it after my book, Calm Things, which is also how the Japanese refer to still life. My stated goal is to provide a place to meditate on still life. It's also a way for me to learn more about the genre, read more about it. It's also got me thinking about what a blog can be. In the case of the Calm Things blog, it's shaping up in my mind not just as a place for meditation, but as a mini-resource center for still life in art and literature about still life, and as an online community for those interested in the subject. I've found though, in my limited blogging experience, that blogs take on a life of their own at a certain point.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Capacious Project - Nancy Mackenzie

Nancy Mackenzie is the author of Soul’s Flight and The Illuminated Life (both books of poetry with Ekstasis Editions) and 3 books for children, including Adventurous Albertans: Women and Men Who Built this Province. Nancy’s novel, Nerve Line, is looking for a publisher, and she’s keeping busy doing freelance writing about air, land, and water issues for Alberta Environment.

My capacious hold-all bears the image of a mare and foal in its thick, brown leather, and the purse itself carries memories. I keep this purse in a large, upright tack box that I bought at Killarney Farms about 18 years ago. The tack box holds two saddles on sliding racks, with a top shelf for brushes, buckets, helmet, and first-aid supplies; and a bottom shelf for boots, blankets, and the purse. The box’s double doors open up with hooks for stirrups, bridles, shanks, and halters.

My mom died in ’93 and the tooled leather purse came to me. I remember how beautiful she was in her blue jeans, big western belt and belt buckle, her long, wavy hair, a pearl-buttoned cowboy shirt, and this fine, big purse.

She would have held her breath while registering the perfect treasure of a man she was married to when she exhaled, eyes firmly on the hand-tooled leather, and said, “Oh, Jim!” And it wasn’t odd that she didn’t have her eyes firmly tethered to his eyes because his too would have been on the mare and foal carved onto the back of the leather purse, in the stall-keeper’s possession, in Mexico.

My Mom painted horses with oils and sculpted them with clay. Before taking a sculpture to the foundry, she’d ask our vet to come out and critique it. And when he’d commented on the foal or mare or stallion, she’d go down to the paddocks in front of our dining room window and run her hands over their faces, feeling each bone’s contour. Then she’d return to the clay and continue to translate that feeling into art.

This one is called Fancy Nancy. I can tell you this filly was so difficult that my parents sent her to a trainer’s stable to be taught some manners. The first day Brian went to the stall to see the newly arrived Fancy Nancy, his wife, Shirley, said, “Remember what Jean said, - be careful!” Brian pushed his wife aside, knowing in his heart that where the filly was probably difficult with my mom, he could handle her. So he opens the stall door and quick as you please Fancy spins around and lays her two back hooves right over his heart. The way Shirley tells it, he was airborn for a moment, and fell all the way across the shedrow against the far stall. Not the kind of horse you want to have named for you. However, Brian lived, and the horse did improve a little before she was shipped back to our place.

This bronze is much like the image on the tack box purse. It’s called First Foal, and it’s of Gaelic Sis and her foal, Prince Gaelic. She was a well-bred mare, by Erikel, who gave us many foals over the years, all of them sprinters. Her foal by Le Brigadier we named Gaelic Chieftain – he was grey with a white mane and tail. I have written a novel about this horse, called Nerve Line, hopefully to be in bookstore near you someday soon.

I suppose, in a way, my mom and I are reunited by our respect for horses; every time I look at her work, and every time I ride, the horse reaching for communion in its strange, majestic way.

On this purse my mother bought in Mexico
a tooled leather mare stands over her foal
like an embossed legacy, mother over daughter,
carries imprints, horse lore, like a new foal
rustling in fresh-strewn straw.

Though now relegated to my tack box
it could hold show ribbons, horse passports, test-scribed notes
but instead bears the whole weight of heaven
in a horse’s sigh, in a daughter’s eye.

Today, no purse over my shoulder
nestled up against bridle and bit
my arms full of saddle, helmet and brushes
this crisp morning at the stables
where the thoroughbred reaches
through my oiled leather saddle
with his back,
my braided reins
with his neck,
my will
with his whole being
for the image
of himself.

Read more about the Capacious Project here.
To view all the contributions to the project go

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Capacious Project - Susan Glickman

SUSAN GLICKMAN is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently Running in Prospect Cemetery: New & Selected Poems; a novel, The Violin Lover; a kid's book, Bernadette and the Lunch Bunch; and The Picturesque & The Sublime: A Poetics of the Canadian Landscape.

I was born in 1953, an era of wardrobe decorum. My mother, aunts, and grandmother all had cupboards full of carefully stacked shoes and handbags, each stuffed with tissue paper in its very own box, each box precisely labelled: “black patent sling backs”, “navy leather pumps”, “white sandals (beach)”, “beaded evening bag,” “brown alligator clutch,” and so on. I liked to peek into the boxes and rustle the paper. I liked to snap open the purses and look for stray coins, after-dinner mints in their shiny twist of cellophane, matchbooks from restaurants with snazzy names, hairpins, and bright red lipsticks. I liked to try on the shoes and the lipstick, and wobble across the floor, being a lady.

Those were the days of rules. “No white after labour day” was one; also never wear dark hose with light coloured shoes; and most important of all, always match your shoes and handbag. This last rule has always been a source of enormous frustration for my mother, as she has to transfer items from one purse to another every time she changes her shoes, and often leaves something behind because the new purse is smaller or her destination different. Later she will rummage through three or four different purses to find the relevant article, in a lather of anxiety the whole time.

My life is much simpler, as is my clothing. The reason I can’t find anything in my purse is simpler too: it’s too damn big. I am a small woman, but all my life have schlepped around humungous bags, abusing each until its handles give out or zippers burst, then moving on to the next. Like a Bedouin, I carry everything I need with me: reading glasses, sunglasses, agenda, notebook, a book or two, hairbrush, two lipsticks (one red, one pink: I may not match my bag to my shoes, but I still like pretending I’m a lady), keys (two sets, in case I lose one), dog treats, wallet (it’s as overstuffed as the purse, though not, alas, with money), bus tokens, bus transfers (they make good bookmarks), tissues, asthma puffer, several felt-tipped pens, frequently an apple; occasionally a fermenting apple-core.

Currently I’m hauling around a sturdy black leather bag: a gift from my sister-in-law. It’s not beautiful; it’s not even interesting. But it has two pockets and a zipper compartment on one side and two more pockets on the other, and two big compartments and three small ones on the inside, so it holds a ton of stuff and keeps it better organized than most other hold-alls I’ve held. My sister-in-law calls it a “pocketbook” because she’s from New York, so I call it one too, even though to me a “pocketbook” has always been a paperback. This amuses me, because the main reason my pocketbooks get so beat up is that they’re always full of pocketbooks!

Read more about the Capacious Project here.

To view all the contributions to the project go here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Capacious Project - Anne Simpson

Anne Simpson is a writer and artist who lives just outside Antigonish, Nova Scotia, with her family. She writes poetry (Light Falls Through You, Loop, Quick), and she also writes fiction (Canterbury Beach and Falling). In 2004, she won the Griffin Poetry Prize. At the moment, she is working on a book of essays about poetry and art to be published in the spring of 2009 with Gaspereau Press. She loves the idea of the Capacious Hold-All and wishes Shawna would also start a blog about Capacious Capes.

The capacious hold-all that I'm thinking about is an imaginary bag, purse, pouch, or pocket... It would have to be on the large side. It could be made of soft, dark velvet and embroidered with birches and white pines and wild rose bushes, with only the rose hips still hanging (like miniature lanterns) on the branches, deep red oak leaves, coppery beech leaves, and maybe a crescent moon (like the one I saw last night) and a scattering of stars that show up in November. I thought about having this imaginary bag when I was travelling in October; and, like Mary Poppins, I wanted to be able to pull out various items of furniture (maybe a bed, lamp, comfy chair, hooked rug, and pile of books). This bag would also have to contain a spiral staircase. I haven't decided whether the spiral staircase would remain inside the bag (in order for me to make myself very small so I could go up and down hunting for things: "Where did I put the gum? "Why don't I just duct tape the keys to my forehead?") or whether it would be something I could take out of the bag. I think every woman needs at least one spiral staircase hidden inside her capacious hold-all.

Read more about the Capacious Project here.
To view all the contributions to the project go here.