Myriam Gendron inspired by Dorothy Parker poems

Montreal book dealer Myriam Gendron was inspired by a 1936 edition of a book of Dorothy Parker's poetry to write her first songs. Now the project, which she recorded in her bedroom, is out on CD.

The 27-year-old set the poems to simple guitar melodies in the tradition of musicians like Leonard Cohen

Montreal book dealer Myriam Gendron was inspired by a 1936 edition of a book of Dorothy Parker's poetry to write her first songs. (Jeanette Kelly/CBC)

MyriamGendron is not a singer. She’s a 27-year-old book dealer with a young baby daughter.

But she was inspired by a second-hand book that she found at The Word Bookstore Montreal to write her first songs.

Myriam Gendron tells the story of her chance discovery of a book of poems by Dorothy Parker at The Word Bookstore Montreal. 8:34

The inspiration is a 1936 edition of Dorothy Parker's poetry, Not So Deep As A Well. 

Parker is best known for her snide aphorisms like, “Men don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses” or "The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue." 

But Parker was also a poet and her poetry shows a sad, melancholic side of a young woman pining for true love. 

"The sweeter the apple the blacker the core scratch a lover and find a foe," she writes in Ballad of a Great Weariness.

Gendron set the poems to simple guitar melodies, inspired by musicians like Leonard Cohen and the late John Fahey.

She recorded nine songs in her bedroom and sent a demo off to a couple of indie labels she likes, including Mama Bird Recording Co., based in Oregon.

Vincent Bancheri, the label's manager, said Gendron is the “the first and only artist that we’ve picked up via demo submission.

This is what you see when you open the book of Dorothy Parker's poems with a design featuring her initials. (Jeanette Kelly )

From the very first listen, it absolutely floored me. Dorothy Parker’s such a brilliant and complex poet and I couldn’t believe the record’s ability to capture all that complexity.

​​"It’s a stunning debut and accomplishment from Myriam. I just couldn’t not get on board to help get get it out into the world,” he said. 

Mama Bird Recording Company first released Not So Deep as a Well digitally last March and Feeding Tube Records, based in Massachusetts, put it out on vinyl.

Feeding Tube has just issued a third pressing of the album and Mama Bird released it as a CD in the US last week. It comes out March 3 in Canada.

Gendron will perform on April 24 at La Vitrola. Details are available here

About the Author

Jeanette Kelly

Jeanette Kelly works as the arts reporter at CBC Montreal. She's also the host of Cinq à Six, Quebec's Saturday afternoon culture show on CBC Radio One.

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