Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Canadian Connelly

Another Canadian writer I admire is Karen Connelly. She wrote two travel books which I read years ago and simply loved. The first, Touching the Dragon, is a journal about her experiences living in Thailand as a teenager, moving and honestly written. (It won a Governor General's award for non-fiction in 1993). One of the things she says in this book that I've always remembered is, "Thailand has whittled the world into a great sliver and lodged it beneath my skin. I do not think of one country; I think of them all with an unmanageable scope of vision." She has continued her travelling life. Her second book, One Room in a Castle, is a grouping of letters and short fictions about her travels through France, Spain and Greece. It is a small, pleasingly hand sized volume, full of luminous phrases and meditations. (It is a favourite as it also has the good associations of being my first Christmas present ever from my now husband.) But not only is Karen Connelly an accomplished non-fiction writer, she has penned a recent novel about the tortuous existence of a political prisoner in Burma, The Lizard Cage. It has been described as a deeply layered work about the transforming power of language and of love (thanks to her website)
She has also always been a poet, and I'd like to share one example from her numerous works of poetry.
Chill spring evening
on the island.
The sky falls from lilac
to the purple of over-ripe figs
to the dark-blue bruise of Libyan glass.
The sky falls deeply
into the Mediterranean, medi terre,
the sea in the rich middle
of the earth, heaven in water.
If we leave the windows open
and play music in the dark,
the nightingales return
to the garden like exiles
coming home.
Karen Connelly ( from the book The Border surrounds us)
***Update: Karen's novel The Lizard Cage has made it to the shortlist for the Orange Broadband Prize for New Writers! Winner to be announced June 6. Good luck, Karen!


  1. This is lovely. You've done such a nice job with the poetry this month.

  2. Thanks, Jill. I do enjoy a bit of verse!


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