Notes on Leaving

By Laisha Rosnau

Notes on Leaving
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Notes on Leaving is a debut poetry collection that is every bit as captivating, emotive and razor-sharp as Laisha Rosnau's bestselling first novel The Sudden Weight of Snow. Rosnau's poignant poems address life in a startlingly direct and honest voice, employing a robust combination ... Read more


Overview

Notes on Leaving is a debut poetry collection that is every bit as captivating, emotive and razor-sharp as Laisha Rosnau's bestselling first novel The Sudden Weight of Snow. Rosnau's poignant poems address life in a startlingly direct and honest voice, employing a robust combination of jaw-dropping forthrightness and delicately crafted verse.

The language of Notes on Leaving is brusque, bright and instinctively fluid: lines and words flow and merge as naturally as they collide head-on. In the world-weary persona of someone who has always found herself on the run ("my mind was farther away than farm and field. . . "), and "prone to breakdowns/ of all kinds," Rosnau energetically conveys sexually charged and angst-ridden desires to urgently abandon a small-town upbringing, among various other lives and identities. She convincingly presents these primal urges as strikingly and sensuously familiar to us all, "tracing a route down your torso, thrumming south,/ the highway swelling with each town, until/ you round the last curve, a crescendo, and cross/ the river to a place where the city meets itself." Cutting through time zones that encompass the rural and urban, the remembered and the forgotten, Rosnau reminds us to "Pay attention to your surroundings," to "watch for potential road-kill," and to "compare scars" along the way.

Laisha Rosnau

Laisha Rosnau is the author of The Sudden Weight of Snow (McClelland and Stewart, 2002), which was an honourable mention for the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award. Rosnau’s first collection of poetry, Notes on Leaving (Nightwood, 2004), won the 2005 Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Award. Her second, Lousy Explorers (Nightwood, 2009), was a finalist for the Pat Lowther Award for best book of poetry by a Canadian woman. Her most recent book of poetry, Pluck (Nightwood, 2014), was nominated for the national Raymond Souster Award. Rosnau teaches fiction and poetry at UBC, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Film School and Okanagan College. She and her family are the resident caretakers of Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary in Coldstream, BC.

Excerpt

WONDERLAND

She pretends to read in the back of the car,
Disney books, thin and coded with colour -
the white of milk-sweet girls, true love
in a bead of crimson blood. She stares down
pictures until they blur: fairies become smudged
bugs on the windshield, a prince morphs
into a twisted plastic bag, tumbles
along the side of the highway. She listens
to taped voices, turns pages when she hears
the sound of a tinkling waterfall (hand
clamped between her legs when
she has to pee.)

These books are not full of the words
she finally learns to read. Instead,
somewhere on the prairies, she looks
out the window and understands the sign.
Understands that the backwards 3 is an E,
that, with the curl of two snakes
and a circle moon, this spells ESSO.
She holds the knowledge in her mouth,
releases the shapes of words to the reflection
of her lips in the car window.

She will tell you this story later,
the back seat thick with baggage, the dog
stinking in the heat. She will tell you one
too many times as your road trips blur together,
the lights on the signs in each new small town
no longer winking like bright promises.
When you pull over at gas station restrooms,
you will light a cigarette while she goes, spell
her name on air with the cherry, stamp
it under foot when she gets back into the car.

WHAT IS TAKEN, THEN

what is lost? How much am I responsible
for giving away? Yes, I followed him
down trails, beside rivers, up slopes,
strained each muscle that moved
me. I followed, feet pounding
a rhythm with his, a series
of spent breaths that would
eventually lead us back
to the place where
we had started.

I know what I wanted. Air thrust in and out
of lungs like blows, that pure physicality,
shortness of breath, chests rising, pupils
engorged to take in the peaks
around us. Fine lick of sweat,
taste of salt on mouths, we
would always lead ourselves
back to where
we started.

To where he would leave one morning
in a sports car that denied his life
story with its two seats, not able
to carry the plot of his wife, their
children, mortgage, employment
so secure it had taken years.
My station wagon lied too,
hoodwinked at things
that weren't there.

I gear down to slow my departure
from this place. When I think
I have found the base of these
mountains, I'll stop and weep,
smarting with my own drama.
What is taken then, what is
given away, how much
am I responsible for
losing when I knew

every run through the woods would bring us
back. In my mind, he is perpetually
returning - an open door, a wife
balancing children on hip, in hand.
In my mind, I am always looking
for places where I can sleep
in the back of the car
alone, doors locked
so I will be safe.

Reviews

Laisha Rosnau Wins People's Poetry Prize!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 1, 2005
Notes on Leaving, the debut poetry collection written by Laisha Rosnau and published by Nightwood Editions, has won the Acorn-Plantos Award for People's Poetry.

"I was thrilled to find out that Notes on Leaving received the award," says Laisha Rosnau. "I'll admit, I was surprised as well since it was nominated in the company of books written by some of my favourite poets who are also more established. To be recognized for my first book of poetry is an absolute honour.

"I think many assume that poetry is best left in the realm of university departments or past centuries and that is something I would love to see change. When someone who doesn't usually read poetry---a great aunt, a friend who is a scientist---reads my work and lets me know they enjoyed it and can relate to it, it is always a great compliment."

Laisha Rosnau was born in Quebec and grew up in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. Her highly successful first novel, The Sudden Weight of Snow, was released by McClelland & Stewart in 2002. Her poetry, short fiction and non-fiction have been published in journals and anthologies in Canada, the US and Australia and a limited edition chapbook of her poetry, Getaway Girl, was published by Greenboathouse Books in 2002. Laisha Rosnau currently lives in Prince George, BC.

Notes on Leaving is a debut poetry collection that is every bit as captivating, emotive and razor-sharp as Laisha Rosnau's bestselling first novel The Sudden Weight of Snow. Rosnau's poignant poems address life in a startlingly direct and honest voice, employing a robust combination of jaw-dropping forthrightness and delicately crafted verse.

The language of Notes on Leaving is brusque, bright and instinctively fluid: lines and words flow and merge as naturally as they collide head-on. In the world-weary persona of someone who has always found herself on the run ("my mind was farther away than farm and field. . ."), and "prone to breakdowns / of all kins," Rosnau energetically conveys sexually charged and angst-ridden desires to urgently abandon a small-town upbringing, among various other lives and identities.

She convincingly presents these primal urges as strikingly and sensuously familiar to us all, "tracing a route down your torso, thrumming south, / the highway swelling with each town, until / you round the last curve, a crescendo, and cross / the river to a place where the city meets itself." Cutting through time zones that encompass the rural and urban, the remembered and the forgotten, Rosnau reminds us to "pay attention to your surroundings," to "watch for potential roadkill," and to "compare scars" along the way.

The Acorn-Plantos Award for People's Poetry, formerly known as the Milton Acorn People's Poetry Award, was established in 1987 and honours the memory and work of Canadian poets Milton Acorn and Ted Plantos. In life, Acorn worked as a fireman, freight handler and longshoreman and deemed himself a troubadour of the working class. He performed at coffee houses in his early career and wrote extensively from the 1950s up until his death in 1986. He was considered one of the most accessible Canadian literary figures of his time, often taking new poets under his wing, one of whom was Plantos. The award recognizes poetry written with the common reader in mind.

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www.nightwoodeditions.com

Nightwood Editions is distributed by Harbour Publishing.
For more information or to schedule an interview with Laisha Rosnau, please contact:

Marisa Alps or Stephanie Sy at Harbour Publishing
PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC V0N 2H0
Tel: (604) 883-2730 * Fax: (604) 883-9451
marisa@harbourpublishing.com * stephanie@harbourpublishing.com
www.harbourpublishing.com

"Like her image of house-slips snagged on rough wrought-iron, Laisha Rosnau's debut book of poems speaks of a world both knowing and delicate, in a voice that is brash, heart-felt, human . . ."
-David O'Meara

"She writes this side of angry, unrepentantly... Bittersweet, brimming with sex and the need to be noticed, but not in a cheap and easy way."
-Andrew Vaisius, Prairie Fire

"The poems in Notes on Leaving are as intimate and surprising as the delicacy of rolling moon 'from tongue to tongue.' Laisha Rosnau delivers her phrases with abandon and aims them where they count."
-Jay Ruzesky

"From childhood formation to youthful transformation, from teen sexuality to adult consciousness, from world travel to the intense and transient friendships formed in a post-modern world, Rosnau nails the human experience through the eyes of a persona who is wise-woman, smart-girl, and cynical innocent...

"Readers will find these forty-plus poems insightful and accessible."
-Anne-Marie Oomen, ForeWord

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