Canadian Novelist: A Retrospective by Catriona Wright

She wrote several Governor General Award–winning historical novels
set in the prairies, as was the custom at the time. Period details—forget-me-not
trimmed chamber pots, darned socks, smallpox—all girdles
keeping the rage and off-scene rapes
reined in. 

She appeared at readings with a floral voice, 
her signature an apology, tiny
and smelling of soap. Demons cartwheeled
through her dreams, her inner monologue a caterwaul. 

She gave up cream, fat, meat. Edited bone thin, 
clutching a tea cup full of gin,
she disguised a heroine’s miscarriage as drought-
sickened crops. 

Canadian critics named prizes and parlours
and poodles after her. But outside Canada
critics gawked at the bumpkin
blandness of her characters, their “tepid and blunt”
emotional range. 

In public libraries, 
she took to draping
strands of hair
across her spines
only to come back
years later to find
the grey intact. 

Having fallen out of fashion, 
                                             she felled
all the daisies in her garden, 
                                             hot glued them into handcuffs, 
tied her lovers to the bed, 
                                             read and read and read. 


Catriona Wright's poems and short stories have appeared in Prism, Prairie Fire, Event, Best Canadian Poetry 2015, and elsewhere. A selection of her poems won Matrix Magazine's 2014 LitPop Award. She is the poetry editor at The Puritan and co-founder of Desert Pets Press, a chapbook press.