Cityscapes in Mating Season

A debut poetry collection by Lise Gaston.

Lise Gaston

Cityscapes in Mating Season combines a lyric sensibility with a distrust of any such singular vision, a loneliness coupled with desire to feel into the thrumming ground of a place and a willingness to register beauty even at its most apocalyptic. By turns playful, sensual and unsettling, the poems in this collection are always tightly crafted, attuned to language's possibilities as well as its limitations, its pitch and roll. From protest-filled Montreal to Vancouver's property disputes, the works in Cityscapes reach out to the textures of urban space, but also interrogate the human industrial facets of supposed wilderness — graffitied ruins in the Irish countryside and baited crab traps along B.C.'s Gulf Islands.

Preindustrial techniques of looking — the picturesque aesthetic, landscape tourism — meet iron fire escapes and Alberta's clamorous construction boom, in poems that reject an easy pastoralism or nostalgia to reveal the politics of ownership and the power of dynamics of gender and space. Street grids give way to arterial passageways where blood flows and nerve endings fire through bodies that are fearful, mysterious or libidinous. These are poems of varied anatomies, where death and desire take unexpected directions, and share the same air. (From Signature Editions)

From the book


we ran some walk-up stairs against the slam
of riot shields watched bar patrons shoved from
les terrasses a cloud of grey a crowd of men
a spurt of red one eye lost to the spray

we marched for that stitched-up hole we marched against
Charest we haunted him in daylight I
marched for the sun that caught the hidden grey
in your black curls for memory of your
tired body slamming me against the wall

your sweet heat my other rising ended
alone on an office carpet months
before the marches so-so-so
solidarité how little we were
willing to

From Cityscapes in Mating Season by Lise Gaston ©2017. Published by Signature Editions.