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The poems below are featured in Canadian Poetry Review #32. Poetry copyright © the authors.

Denise Desautels ~ Frances Pope ~ Deborah L. Kelly ~


Denise Desautels (translated by Alisa Belanger)

Lessons from Venice


March 1988.

Winter persists. The cold blasts, irritating, in the light of March.

I send the sculptor postcards from the Venice Carnival, bought on Boulevard Saint-Denis, where I speak with him about the trip and this project that slowly takes shape to write about his work. I cover the back of the images with little violet signs, almost illegible. Some reading notes, some quotations. The questions asked by the recent sculptures hold themselves quite close. Venice. For the moment, I cannot foresee the scope of my enthrallment with the masks that I will find in profusion, once there. Neither this enthrallment, nor this fascination, nor— simultaneously and yet paradoxically—this nostalgia that will be mine. I know not yet that, crossing the Piazza San Marco several times, I will each time have the impression of sliding into something fake, the impression of playing with artifice, or with being out of place or with an excess of exoticism, against my wishes, pure tension toward the truth.

As though all of the islands brought together there, refusing to be scattered or imprecise, could only occult memory and force renunciation.

In Venice, beauty is a response to mourning that doesn’t exist.

Denise Desautels was born in Montreal. She is a past vice-president of the Académie des lettres du Québec. She won the Prix de la Fondation Les Forges for Leçons de Venise (1990), the original French version of Lessons from Venice. She also won the Governor General’s Award and the Prix de la revue Estuaire for Le saut de l'ange (1992), the Prix de la Société des écrivains canadiens and the Prix de la Société Radio-Canada for Tombeau de Lou (2000). In 1999 she received La Médaille Échelon vermeil, the highest honour given by the city of Paris. ~ back to top


Frances Pope



I was a trilobite, then.
I was spare and clean.
Spoked with gaps and spaces,
I was light – a mesh of marrow, then,
the wind skewered bright like an arrow.

I was a skeleton,
I was a comb.

Nothing and nobody stopped or stuck.
Looped on the family necklace
I was otherwise unfeathered.
I lacked the threads, the sticky edge,
to tangle in a circle, in
the warm of a web. And when

the dips and wells filled up with brine,
saltiness wore away the time.


A catchy clutch of syllables
of tricksy, dense unrhymables.
they are technical, specific.
Latin-spangled, many-angled,
winking strings of sound
you strive to fit your mouth around.

Proudly with a chain of charms
you gleam with words you’ve learned this March...

Of course, the zygomatic arch!
Metatarsals, intercostals,
bits you never knew were part of you
are named and labelled, graphed and tabled,
breathed into living lexicality,
spilled from the guts of the medical dictionary.
A scientifically sound soliloquy
perfect, whispering pectoriloquy.

Frances Pope is a writer and French-English translator. Originally from the UK, she has been writing poetry and taking part in open mics and readings for several years, starting in Brighton in 2009 and continuing in London, in France, and in Montreal where she has lived since 2015. Her work has appeared in Carte Blanche, Asymptote, Québec Reads, L’Organe, UNAM’s Periódico de Poesía, and The Cannon’s Mouth, and is forthcoming in Phantom Drift. Frances also draws and is learning photography, and she is currently working on a project bringing together words and illustrations. ~ back to top


Deborah L. Kelly

My Morning Prayer

I awaken each morning
to the sight of mists rising
from mountain treetops.
The quiet sound of Gaia
surrounds me as she
whispers to my heart,
“Good morning, child.”

Lingering in my bed,
as I give myself time
to fully awaken my senses,
I can smell her perfume
seeping in through my window.

In my morning prayers,
silent words of thanks
to the Creator, not just
for the blessings, but for
the gift of creating me to
be who I Am.


I was talking to a squirrel today
as he ran around the tree.
He shot away from branch to branch,
guess he was afraid of me.

It’s truly a humbling experience
this country living, so close to the earth;
how spoiled we become in the city,
lost in the importance of our own worth.

The trees spring from roots eternal:
flowers, perennials, so fine, run
through the grass, shadows reflecting;
a machine I have travelled through time.

Deborah L. Kelly has been writing poetry for more than 40 years. Having begun writing poetry in her teenage years, she discovered that it helped her to cope with the conditions around her during her youth. The author of four published books of poetry, both in Canada and Internationally, Deborah always enjoys a new challenge. An award winning poet and short story writer, she lives in the beautiful forests, edging on the Land of the Midnight Sun, in Prince George, BC. It is here Deborah spends her time writing, gardening, and breathing in the delights of her beautiful grandchildren. ~ back to top


~ back to top

Denise Desautels ~ Frances Pope ~ Deborah L. Kelly