For this week’s edition of Feature Friday, we are pleased to bring you an excerpt from Carole David’s award-winning poetry collection, The Year of My Disappearance, translated by Governor General’s Award winner Donald Winkler. A searing, surreal, darkly comic descent into a woman’s psyche, present here are figures lodged in her memory: lovers, strangers, her mother, and Bosch-like apparitions out of her dreams and imaginings. Through it all, a fierce combat is being waged between immolation and survival. In a review for Le Devoir, Hugues Corriveau writes, “This sharp-witted poetry, knife blades at the ready, speaks of the landscape a woman may come to inhabit who is undone, overwhelmed by the violence to which any life is subject when weighed down by remembrances.”
We hope you enjoy this excerpt from The Year of My Disappearance. Happy reading!
From The Year of My Disappearance:
I’ve just shot you down at the door to the motel.
You’re still alive, but ancient;
chlorine residue adorns your eyes.
As if that weren’t enough, I heard your pale voice once more:
potato chips, road map, rest stops,
nothing unaccounted for.
I planted three kisses on the hulk of a car.
Your son who bears my name surged into view:
you gave me a dollar and some of your
The garage man pours gas in my mouth;
the day is bright, you can see who I am.
Now I’m a flammable nothing,
with drug-drenched hair.
Someone takes me by the throat
and hoists me into the air.
I go in, it’s the room for making things;
cleaver in hand, my liquid brew,
my boastful agenda,
all’s ripe for the ceremony.
All but the ancient notion
of the body written on my bones,
a thread I unspool between poetry and depiction.
I’m on the brink of shedding my skin.
I’m an epiphany thrown to the ground onto blackened
slabs of meat; animal carcasses,
ghostly young girls breathing cold basement air.
(How deep down were we
when we disappeared?)
Without ethereal fears,
disabled by fits of terror,
all that’s left is my typewriter;
I walk through walls, past earthmovers,
I unfold the map of my nerves.
A woman’s bald skull, the night upended onto her;
suitcases, forsaken furniture, wistful vortices;
semi-effaced polaroids come to life:
“Why am I in this picture if I’m dead?”
I hear her spasmodic voice echoing,
garment by garment.
A hand-sewn wound on the back of her head
was enough to make her invisible.
Order your copy of The Year of My Disappearance here.
Poet, novelist, and short story writer, Carole David was born in Montreal, and holds a doctorate in French studies. She taught for many years at the college level. Her Manuel de poétique à l’ intention des jeunes filles (2010), won the Alain Grandbois Prize, and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Her most recent collection, L’année de ma disparition (2015), (The Year of my Disappearance), won the Prix des libraires, the Prix Québecor of the Trois Rivières International Poetry Festival, and was a finalist for the Grand prix de la ville de Montréal. She lives in Montreal, where she devotes herself to writing. Her books have been translated into English and Italian.
Donald Winkler is a translator of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, and is a three-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for French to English translation, most recently in 2013 for Pierre Nepveu’s collection of verse, The Major Verbs. He lives in Montreal.