Tag Archives: Heather Haley

“Heather Haley-Poet.” How did that happen?

sideways

Certainly I didn’t plan to become a poet. I didn’t grow up thinking, when I grow up I’m going to be a poet. But in essence, it is who I am. I wasn’t exposed to literature. My father read Popular Mechanics and my mother, True Confessions. Though, being an Irish queen of blarney, Corona could spin a mean yarn.

I didn’t get a degree. I dropped out of university and ran away to join the punk rock circus; sang, wrote songs and poetry which I performed in coffee houses and nightclubs. When I returned to Canada, in a fluky way, published my first collection, Sideways, with Anvil Press. Three Blocks West of Wonderland came out with Ekstasis Editions in 2009 so I’m not exactly prolific, though never cease writing. In a haphazard way, I’m becoming “widely anthologized;” Verse Map of Vancouver (Anvil),  Rocksalt: An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry (Mother Tongue Publishing), Alive at the Center (Ooligan Press), FORCE Field: 77 Women Poets of British Columbia (Mother Tongue Publishing), The Wild Weathers; a gathering of love poems (Caitlin Press), The SpokenWord WorkBook (Banff Centre Press), Where the Nights are Twice as Long: Love Letters of Canadian Poets (Goose Lane Editions), The Other 23 1/2 Hours, What Your MFA Didn’t Teach You (Wolsak & Wynn), and the forthcoming Simon Fraser University’s Lunch Poems Anthology. Is my approach irresponsible or irreverent? Due to a bad attitude perhaps and Sideways might be entirely appropriate.

I’ve worked in many genres; journalism/reviewer, non-fiction/blog, prose/novel and written several screenplays.  I always go back to poetry. Or, come back to poetry.

Recently I completed a rough draft of my latest manuscript, Detective Work. Why? It’s in me, verse. And I have no idea how it got there.

MY WEEK

Fed a germ.
Old dog.
Spooned flies out of yogurt.
Dislodged ants from the toaster.
Entered words.
Fought for blackberries.
Free stuff.

Doctored bites.
Signed language.
Collected greens,
Heritage tomatoes.
Meme parlanced.
Registered my feelings.

Last house on Husband Rd.
Prolific bamboo décor.
You can sit in a resin chair
Forever, white ones
Especially war strong.
Too late in the week now
To do anything nice.

Or, nicely.
Too late in our life spans
For anything,
Though he’s still trying
To Xerox his ass,
Moon earth.

 

Free To Imagine

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Writing is vexing, on so many levels. I don’t understand all this post modern fuss over genre and grow weary of explaining that I did indeed imagine the story in The Town Slut’s Daughter. Naturally it’s inspired by life experience. Write what you know. Right? Which is all I wrote, which is why it’s authentic. If what I wrote was published as memoir, or creative non-fiction-whatever the hell that is- I would have been crucified, because I made stuff up, yet people refuse to believe  my novel isn’t memoir. I can say unequivocally that I am not Fiona and Fiona is not I.

Our hunger for realism, hence the reality show phenomenon, and rise of the documentary fuel such expectations. Pressure. I say this because poet and writer Catherine Owen, whom I admire greatly, reviewed my book bemoaning in the main that I’d chosen to write fiction. Despite confusion over genre I never doubted my instincts, knew I was framing narrative within a novel. Works for me. I understand her yearning for just the facts but my life is not all that interesting, in reality. As Karl Ove Knausgård recently emphasized  about his autobiographical novel,  My Struggle,  “It’s fictional even if it’s nonfictional. It’s not as if I’m trying to document anything. I’m looking for something within that material.” Autobiographical novel also seems a contradiction in terms and I know truth is relative. Let the critics and pundits postulate ad nauseum, I need to focus on process. If you want reality, read my blog. I’m getting good at making my life sound exciting.

Perhaps I am a coward, for I can wear it like a veil, but it is also liberating and I maintain there is more truth in fiction.

 

GOODREADS giveaway!

I do what I can. So here you go, this coming Tuesday/Wednesday, just for one day. Please enter if you would like to win a copy of my novel, recently reviewed in newspapers across Canada: “Haley has the gift of writing to suit her subject in all its raddled variety, from wired and jarring to lyrical and tragic.” Of course, you can always buy The Town Slut’s Daughter if you can’t wait.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Town Slut's Daughter by Heather Haley

The Town Slut’s Daughter

by Heather Haley

Giveaway ends April 22, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

WINTER HEAT

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WINTER HEAT

You and I. We
Warm the cabin
With a fiesta.
Slow dances.
Tortuous torch songs.

He who orchestrates touch
Who once handed me
My limping orders
Favours the melted
And I,
Kiosk chocolate.
Cormorants black as cinder.

You ban air quotes. Kink.
I, fake railings. Balloon releases,
Especially for no occasion.
You inform me that yes
Some gingers are cold.
I confide that meanly handsome
Hot headed micks
Only made me think of We.

Poetical Canuckian love letters, “Voracious”-new AURAL Heather & Vancouver’s female punk rockers

LoveLetters

Lots of action on the HS Haley front! 2015 looks promising. Last summer poetry impresario and scholar Dave Eso contacted me regarding a Goose Lane Editions anthology of love letters by Canadian poets that he and Jeanette Lynes were co-editing called Where the Nights are Twice as Long. I was intrigued and he was interested in some Peter Trower letters that he’d found through his research. Dave asked if I had anything I’d like to contribute. My instinctive reaction was a resolute “No.” But as Pete’s friend and literary executor, I assisted for several months in procuring the Trower material. A peksy idea began to seep in; I do have amorous correspondence, stored away. I would have to read it again, in the process reliving the pain and heartache of John and mine’s implosion four years previous. Which I did. Naturally. ‘Cause I’m a sucker for romance, a glutton for punishment. I showed it Dave who was keen for it and here I sit six months later admiring this lush, hefty, gorgeous book.  “Here are odes and lyric ecstasies, tirades and tantrums, pastoral comforts and abject horrors – all delivered with the vibrancy, wit, and erudition of our finest poets. Under the covers of Where the Nights Are Twice As Long, David Eso and Jeanette Lynes collect letters and epistolary poems from more than 120 Canadian poets, including Pauline Johnson, Malcolm Lowry, Louis Riel, Alden Nowlan, Anne Szumigalski, Leonard Cohen, John Barton, Di Brandt, and many others, encompassing the breadth of this country’s English literary history.”  Kudos and congratulations Dave and Jeanette! I know how hard, and how long you’ve worked on this wondrous tome. Thrilled as I am to be included, I get squeamish at the thought of such intimacy on full display. But it will appeal to the voyeur I believe resides within us all.

Speaking of connections, I recently reconnected with a dear friend, one Mark Deutrom, musician/composer/producer extraordinaire. As Mark puts it: “I first knew Heather in what seems to be another life at this point – we were neighbors sharing some affinities in the existential miasma that was Hollywood at the dawn of Ronald Reagan’s so called “shining city on a hill”. Many years later, through the miracle of the Interweb, we are back in touch and have begun what will hopefully be the start of an adventure in the spoken word with accompanying soundtracks.” What I call AURAL Heather. Our first effort/collaboration is Voracious, written at the height of, and as a result of the mad affair depicted in the aforementioned anthology. I will select another poem in the next few weeks, record the voice-over, send it along to Mark, who happens to reside in Austin, Texas, and we will go from there. I’ll be doing a Twisted Poets reading in Vancouver Jan 29 which will help put me in the zone. I need to sing! Determined to incorporate some vocalizations into our next piece.

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Last fall, in the midst of fervent Visible Verse Festival curating and preparations, a writer named Connie Kuhns got in touch regarding her article on Vancouver’s female punk rockers. I managed to answer her interview questions in time and it’s hot off the presses. “Geist 95 is on newsstands now! See the full Table of Contents and order this brand-new issue for only $6. Our loudest issue yet features punk, politics and feminism by Connie Kuhns; winners of the Tobacco Lit Writing Contest; David Albahari’s child-free neighbourhood; the Arctic photography of Bogdan Luca; Stephen Osborne on dog walking and story writing, and more!” The guitarist depicted on the cover in the foreground is Christine de Veber rippin’ it at one of our first Zellots shows at the Smilin’ Buddha, a couple of lifetimes ago.

A YIN-YANG CHRISTMAS-From Joy to Dread and Back Again

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‘Tis the season. For melancholy. Haunted by Christmas Past, I get nostalgic for the little girl who believed in Santa. A child’s lament; “Why can’t it be Christmas every day?”, I’d wail at my mother. Because, my parents would rally, no matter how broke we’d been, to fill the house with presents, candy, nuts and booze, to be filled with joy, or at least in a in a good mood, when they weren’t fighting or knocking over the tree.

I have an image burned into my psyche of sitting on the couch next to it, staring at my reflection in an exquisite silver bulb, in a trance of hope and excruciating happiness. That damned tree. Its heady perfume permeated the house, blasting away banality, infusing bliss. Magic. Or madness, I’ve come to realize. The Christmas tree has become for me an emblem of the innocence of childhood, innocence lost, innocence I have finally quit trying to regain.

Light-Dark. Fire-Water. Male-Female. Yin-Yang. Without dread, how can there be joy? Seeking the answer traces my evolution from doe-eyed youngster to jaded diva, but at last I am comfortable with such dualities. I’m not a Daoist but understand that life is an endless cycle, and that opposites are bound together to create a mutual whole.

“Thank God I’m an atheist.” I struggled with that when my son was little, thought that if we were going to observe-after deciding we would honour tradition, albeit our way-that Junior should know about the Christ in Christmas. He learned that Jesus of Nazareth was most likely a rabbi, his teachings were sound and the man must have been a charismatic philosopher, healer or social reformer who many saw as a prophet and the son of God. I’ve also taught my son to be discerning, to consider the source, to put things in relief. In perspective. With healthy skeptiscim comes a certain ambivalence, but he’s a good kid, smart and compassionate.

I refrain from spouting “Bah Humbug,” but don’t put up a tree anymore. Junior, now 20, no longer cares, which is rather sad, considering how much he did care, how excited he’d get, waiting for and believing in Santa. But we share fond memories; one year he, his step-father and I spent Christmas in Hawaii with his godmother and extended family. We met Don Ho, watched a lighted parade in the little town of Waimea on Christmas Eve, and Junior even went boogie boarding, despite having been afraid of the water.

Peace and goodwill toward men. Why should it be seasonal? I do enjoy the time the holidays afford us, the opportunity to get together with loved ones. When we gather with those who are dear to us. If the fates allow. I like nothing better than to cook for my family, as I do each time I’m lucky enough to have them visit throughout the year. That is joy. Time is the most precious gift of all and peace comes from within.

 

Novel reviews are in! And a poem called “Flesh Pot”

Slowly trudging along the dreaded book marketing trail-the main challenge being a lack of both time and money-but so far she’s receiving the star treatment and good reviews:

“The pace is electric, the scenes pulsate with energy, and through the character of Fiona, the reader is pulled into a world that can be beautiful and passionate one moment, and scary and ugly the next. The writing is so honest and direct, and dealing with such powerful feelings and social issues, that it will take your breath away.”-Nick Faragher, author of  The Well and other Stories and No Big Thing. Nick also characterized it as a punk Moveable Feast, which I love.

“You couldn’t ask for a better tour guide. Fiona wants to take you by the arm and show you everything – everything! – and you should let her. She’ll walk you through absurdly dysfunctional families, creatives and poseurs, mountains of cocaine, the thrills and bitter frustrations of band life, a city on fire, and sex that explores a lot of territory: tender, frenzied, exhilarating, surreal, brutal. Fiona tells it all, unflinching, with a survivor’s wry humor. Go on, get in – it’s a ride worth taking. Fiona will drive too fast, and you’ll love it.”-Katy Barzedor

“Don’t let the punk rock scare you; this is a woman’s story of love and adventure and survival. This is about sex and drugs and rock and roll. This is about a woman’s personal journey from young girl to abused victim to scarred survivor. It may begin with the punk rock years, but follows the lead character Fiona through scenes of punk rock violence, to a more insidious violence of personal relationships. Warning: There is quite a bit of sex here, so if you are offended by graphic scenes of sex, stay away. But if you like sex and classic sexy writing, you will love this book. We know that not all sex is good. Sometimes there is a dark side. Poor Fiona discovers this horrible truth as an attraction becomes a trap. The scenes during the LA riots evoke the Jump into the fire scene in Goodfellas, but told through a strong woman’s perspective. Rarely do you read books from a woman’s perspective about sex and music. The Town Slut’s Daughter takes you into the dark side of the music business. Why it makes punk rock seem tame in comparison.”-Dennis Milt

“A whirlwind tale about a girl looking for identity and artistic expression, that takes you from the early Vancouver punk scene through the trenches of rock and roll, life and excess in 1980’s Los Angeles and culminates with the L.A. riots. Intense, passionate, at times brutal, and also funny. The dialogue between characters had me laughing out loud. A rollercoaster ride that raises your hair and lands you back into your seat with a hard bump.”-Tracy Bissonnette

No time to write! But I will be included in several anthologies coming out next year; Love Where the Nights Are Twice As Long, a Goose Lane collection of love letters penned by Canadian poets, edited by David Eso, and a Simon Fraser University anthology of work from their Lunch Poems reading series which I participated in. They selected this one:

FLESH POT 

Born muscle bound

Backboned, map, matrix-

Mother intact

Into families, slums

 

Manors, private

Security firms, institutions.

Pirates or the pious

We flourish. Raw teeth, germs,

 

Clubfeet do not impede us,

Rank and garbled speech fleeting

As tin jeeps, our struggle

Barbie Doll drama, tumult banal,

 

Pain prosaic, strife fueling ripeness

Gauntlets passed through swiftly

Until the day we drop. Nominated,

Cornered, required to wither

 

Under the gun,

Succumb, for we remain

That tender, precious human

Flesh terminators aim for.

 

 

THE LATEST from “The Town Slut’s Daughter” front

Obsessing over the novel, worrying about how it will be received. Or not. Naturally. Just keep reminding myself that it takes courage, and resolve to write a book, especially one so unruly, uncompromising. I have managed to resist removing the debauchery, the bits that made me squirm. Still do. My son interviewed me yesterday for a school assignment and asked an interesting question. Had I learned anything through the experience of writing this book? Certainly my writing muscle is pumped and I have learned a lot, about myself. ‘Tis quite the effective mirror, and I don’t flinch readily anymore. Whether that’s a good thing is another matter. I’m glad I watched the Wolf of Wall Street despite tiring of its unrelenting bacchanal. (DiCaprio is brilliant and the crawling-on-Ludes scene hilarious.) It put things in perspective. Fiona’s a Girl Scout compared to that dude.

Will go to Word on the Street on Sunday and talk her up. Oh right, it’s been dubbed  Word Vancouver. Whatever it’s called, this book fair is always fun and a great opportunity to catch up with friends and associates. This year several are launching their own new titles at the Poetry On The Bus stage: 12:30 pm Nilofar Shidmehr, Between Lives (Oolichan Books), 12:45 pm Catherine Owen, Designated Mourner (ECW Press) and at 1:00 pm Phinder Dulai, dream/arteries (Talonbooks).

Back to the grind. Formatting for Kindle and The Town Slut’s Daughter should be ready for downloading by Monday. Also, revamping this site with my dear friend Andy Flaster and will launch next week along with the book. And Megan Gray gave us a plug  at VanCity Buzz!

Yikes! Book launch party next Thursday, Oct. 2 at 7:30 pm at Slickity Jim’s, 3469 Main St, Vancouver. Though financially challenged, I was hoping to buy a new dress for the occasion. Oh well, it’s moot as I’m running out of time.

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“THE TOWN SLUT’S DAUGHTER” What’s in a name?

Just so you know, politically correct or not, “The Town Slut’s Daughter” is a spoof on “The Pilot’s Wife,” “The Bone Cutter’s Daughter” and all the rest. And yes, I realize it’s provocative but so is the book. In that sense it’s aptly titled. Several people have tried to convince me to change it, but good for business or not, I just can’t. I’ve been writing and publishing a long time though and I think it’s funny, and intriguing. I’m trusting my gut on this, and have to go indy.  Publishing is in a state of flux and publishers are impotent. No one has the balls to embrace a book called “The Town Slut’s Daughter,” though her time has come.

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FIONA’S ON FIRE!

The fun never stops.  Junior is preparing to attend university, I’m entering the final stages of proofreading the novel and will be able to order copies for the launch Oct. 2 while intensively programming this year’s Visible Verse Festival. My gig at the Visitor Info Centre just finished and so I’m pounding the pavement as well. Here’s the press release for the book launch. I hope to see you there.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

THE TOWN SLUT’S DAUGHTER

Book Launch Party

Thurs, Oct. 2, 7:30 pm

Slickity Jim’s-3469 Main St, Vancouver

THE TOWN SLUT’S DAUGHTER

Not even punk rock could save her

With a staccato narrative style and singular descriptive cadence, Canadian poet Heather Haley’s debut novel, “The Town Slut’s Daughter,” engages the reader through deftly drawn characters and a series of startling events.

Fiona Larochelle flees a harrowing home life only to land in Vancouver’s violently blazing punk rock underground. Music provides a catalyst when she mines a talent for singing and songwriting to form an all-girl band, the Virgin Marries. After the group breaks up, Fiona is stranded in the U.S. and forced to navigate a minefield of vice, drug abuse, jealous lovers and predatory record producers as she works to rebuild her dream. She discovers that although rage may have facilitated her quest in the beginning, it cannot deliver her. Amid the tumult of the LA Riots, Fiona bolts from her cocaine-fueled marriage to a modern-day Bluebeard. Throughout it all, a fierce, indomitable spirit prevails.

“Haley chronicles the punk scene with insight gleaned from the mosh pit, backstage and onstage fronting her band the Zellots. It was a grimy few years when poverty was a style and anyone with the guts to get onstage could be a star. Haley has written a coming-of-age-novel in which Holden Caulfield is a street-walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm.”-Les Wiseman, Vancouver Magazine, Bloodied But Unbowed

“Quick and nervy, this book vibrates with the intensity of the punk scene it describes.”- Janice Erlbaum, author of GirlBomb and Have You Found Her: A Memoir

The Town Slut’s Daughter is a wild romp through the madness of youth, a pagan celebration of life and living. But be warned Heather Haley is no lady. She’ll kick the ball right in your face and it will hurt.”-Chris Walter, author of East Van and Chase the Dragon

CONTACT:

Howe Sound Publishing

778 868-5845

howesoundpublishing@gmail.com

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