- Paperback: 114 pages
- Publisher: Seraphim Editions (March 15 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1927079276
- ISBN-13: 978-1927079270
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 0.6 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 200 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #681,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Asking Paperback – Mar 15 2014
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About the Author
Shawna Lemay is a writer, blogger, editor, photographer, and library assistant. She is?he creator and co-editor of the website, Canadian Poetries. She has written five books of poetry, a book of essays and a work of experimental fiction - All the God-Sized Fruit (McGill-Queen's University Press, 1999), Against Paradise (McClelland & Stewart, 2001), Still (published by the author, 2003), Blue Feast (NeWest Press, 2005), Calm Things: Essays (Palimpsest Press, 2008), Red Velvet Forest (Muses' Company, 2009), and Hive: A Forgery(Create Space, 2012). She resides in Edmonton, Alberta.
Top customer reviews
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This line by Phyllis Webb is the inspiration for the title and some of the books narrative:
"Listen. If I have known beauty / let's say I came to it / asking."
I've had this book for at least a year and don't know why on earth it's taken me so long to get to the beauty within. I happen to also love reading the author's blog, "Calm Things" so it's no wonder I am so taken with these lovely poem-essays and poems about art, beauty, cocktail parties, *ekphrasis and even the ordinary. Each one is like a separate leaf on a tree ... different shape, colour, texture, size, and each one a unique individual.
I will be keeping this at my bedside table so I can re-read many of these lovely 'leaves'. For this is the type of book you wish to re-read, savour, and contemplate.
If you enjoy Lemay's blog, Calm Things, you'll love the book. If you love the book, you'll want to check out her blog.
* ekphrasis -- basically description of a work of art, but for a more detailed definition visit http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/glossary-term/ekphrasis
Many writers seek to camouflage their influences and sources, to ride on their anonymous backs. Asking is remarkable in that Lemay simply provides the reader with them and explains in graceful and poetic language how they relate to her life and work. The result is a distinctive and perhaps unique style, reflecting a self-confidence that is fully justified.
New and aspiring writers will find ample food for thought in To a Young Poet, one of the essays in the collection. "A poet should make a break for it when anyone is handing out advice. A young poet should both hear and not hear any praise they may happen to be given."
"I advise you to spend as little time possible on the internet attempting to decipher whether a person has 'liked' something wholeheartedly, ironically, or with what degree of fatigue."
I met Lemay in Canada because both our books were being launched by Seraphim Editions in Toronto. She had flown from Edmonton for the latest in her long series of publications. I had flown from France for my first, non-fiction book. Her style is much more accessible than it might at first appear. The work is transparently human to an unusual degree. A long-ago comment from a friend about her husband making money by merely selling his paintings has stayed with her. Henry James is cited on the three important things in life: be kind, be kind and be kind.
Among her subjects is the interaction between art and its viewer, experiencing beauty, and art as a form of survival in suburbia. Perhaps her best advice to young poets is that they should learn as many languages as they can, and to comb their hair before leaving the house. "Try and find a chaise long. I'm adamant about this point. If it's threadbare, throw a blanket over it."
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This lovely line, penned by Phyllis Webb, was the inspiration and foundation of a stellar collection of poems and essays titled ASKING.
Author Shawna Lemay explores questions of beauty, inspiration, perspective, poetry, writing, and painting, as well as the different ways in which each of these subjects has an impact upon and is impacted by all the others.
Some of her works, such as the first in the collection, "Gestures," read as breathless whirlwinds, as a kind of stream-of-consciousness amalgamation of thoughts, colors, scenes, and ideas that keep the reader shifting focus among the interconnected connotations she suggests.
Others of her works, like "What I Love," are almost like list poems, with similarly related impressions brought together under one overarching perspective, and written with more directness and deliberate clarity than works like "Gestures."
Each of the writings begs to be read aloud, for the mouthfeel of the words, the superior diction, the beauty of the individual lines and the wonderment of the way the lines are placed and tailored.
I would venture to suggest that each of the writings is a work of art by itself, perhaps not as "visual" as a painting or a sculpture but nonetheless visual in terms of the emotional and psychological images Lemay's words evoke.
Don't think you'll breeze through each of these entries in a few minutes and move to the next. These poems and essays need to be pondered, contemplated, and meditated upon. Consider the connotations and denotations of each word, carefully chosen, and in relation to the other words.
Linger over these ideas --- aesthetics, beauty, wonder, focus, painting, creativity, imagination, light --- perhaps for days. It may take that long, or longer, to fully comprehend Lemay's viewpoint, and to formulate your own.
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Author: Shawna Lemay
Purchase here: http://amzn.to/1vQloph
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the author in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.