E/view: White Shirt

From sex and broken relationships to dreams about Jackson Pollock, Edmonton artist and writer Laurie MacFayden gets personal with her premiere anthology of poetry, White Shirt


Laurie MacFayden is an Edmonton-based poet and visual artist. She moved here from Ontario in the mid-80s and since then has been active on the local poetry and art scenes, as well as having a career as a journalist.

Laurie MacFayden's 'White Shirt.'
White Shirt, published in 2010, is MacFayden's first collection of poetry. The first thing I noticed about the book is the Jackson Pollock-esque painting that illustrates the cover, which is a MacFayden original. Then, I got started reading, and the first poem was a dream about a date with Pollock. I was already hooked.

How can I best describe MacFayden's poetic style? Imagine poetry that is at times gritty and personal, that deals with love and lust and sex and broken relationships, that has a tone of a booze-filled night out before the hangover sets in, almost reminiscent of the beatnik poets from decades past. Now, imagine this kind of poetry written by a woman.

I often found myself right there beside MacFayden as she writes of not fitting in to expected molds, as she deals with heartbreak and longing, and as she reminisces on her life. While I obviously do not share all of these experiences in the same way, it is as though I am sitting at a bar, drink in hand, listening to a wise, weary woman who has turned her observations and experiences into art.

MacFayden is also very versatile with her verse. From short haiku to longer poems, from free verse to internal rhyme, she expresses herself clearly with emotion and introspection. Personal poetry can often become self-indulgent, but instead MacFayden invites the reader into her life where she exposes vulnerability without making anyone feel like they are merely being a voyeur.

If you have the opportunity to hear MacFayden at a poetry open mic or other such event, go for it. As for me, I am eagerly awaiting the next collection of her poems.


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