Broken Pencil Magazine review of Kiki by Megan Clark

Publication: Broken Pencil
Author: Clark, Megan
Date published: April 1, 2015
Language: English
PMID: 85295
ISSN: 12018996
Journal code: BKNP

Kiki Amanda Earl, 5ipgs, Chaudière Books,, $20

The story of Paris in the 1920s is one of legends. When Amanda Earl went in search of one - Kiki the Queen of Montparnasse - she was seeking something deeper than the standard history. She wanted to resurrect Kiki and, as Earl says, discover "the feeling not the facts". To that end the poetry collection, Kiki, uses the wild frame of Paris between the wars to paint an even wilder picture of the life Alice Ernestine Prin - known in Paris only as Kiki.

Ernestine Prin came to Paris at age 13. By the time she was a young woman she was adept at flaunting her sexuality and living wildly and creatively in Paris' art circles. But Earl's poetry collection is not simply a raw romp through the sexual adventures of Kiki. It also paints a tender picture of a woman's struggle to be free, and this is its greatest strength. To do this, the collection is divided into three parts. The first is a stark but tender rendering of the transfiguration of Alice into Kiki, with each poem in the cycle beginning with "This is Alice. This is fucked up."

Next the cast of characters surrounding Kiki are paraded around the reader as though in a fun house mirror. All of the big names are here - Gertrude Stein, Kandinsky, Kisling, O'Keefe - and each with descriptions that trade off between the beautiful and the absurd. Of Marcel Duchamp, Earl writes: "The destiny of Marcel/ Duchamp is a musical onion."

The final section of the collection takes much of the debauchery, paranoia, and profundity head on and is aptly called "Opium." Here we face the drugs that fuelled much of the lust, heartbreak, exuberance, and danger that characterized this time period. Focusing in on the contradictions essential to a life teetering between the extremes of love and pain Earl writes, "1 am the rhythm of flowers, the speed of metal. 1 am a slow rising balloon." By Earl's pen Kiki is alive again - broken and breaking, but also complete and transcendent. (Megan Clark)

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Chaudiere Books Launch at the Ottawa International Writers Festival

Chaudiere Books Launch at the Ottawa International Writers Festival

Hosted by rob mclennan
Ottawa International Writers Festival

Monday October 27, 8pm
Free event
Fox and Feather, 2nd Floor • 283 Elgin St.

For further information on this event, and other events in this year's Ottawa International Writers Festival, click here:
Ottawa’s Chaudiere Books was recently relaunched by rob mclennan and new co-publisherChristine McNair, and the Writers Festival is proud to be launching their 2014 poetry titles.

A riotous assemblage of long poems focusing on the crazy years of 1920s Montparnasse—a melting pot of artists and poets. Amanda Earl’s Kiki plays with language and form, taking the familiar first-person format of journaling to streams of language to snippets of visual imagery to present the wildness of those years, focusing on the persona of Kiki de Montparnasse, a maverick who—much like the poems presented here—cut across intellectual and artistic boundaries. Sexy and smart. Read more...  

An incisive and playful first book exploring language and space, Singular Plurals presents us with fictive—often surreal—images encapsulated in text that is layered in meaning, playful with language and polyphonous in tone. The poems explore the irregular spaces and tangential lines that separate and connect us, sometimes by gazing from a great distance, then zooming in for the close-up shot. Roland Prevost is a winner of Bywords’ John Newlove Poetry Award and a self-described “explorer of here/now’s edge.” Singular Plurals is his first full-length book of poetry.  

Garden is a cycling and recycling meditation on the garden, its edges and ecologies, throughout an entire calendar year. Award-winning poet and under-performing gardener Monty Reidexplores and reinvigorates the possibilities of poetic meditation over twelve full months of his home garden in Ottawa’s east end.

Monday, October 27, 2014 at 8:00 pm
Doors Open 7:30 pm