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Last Modified: February 6, 2023
Illustration of a crow sitting on a book, with the following text to the left, "Crow Reads Podcast"
Rayanne Haines Interviews Dr. Micheline Maylor

Crow Reads is a podcast series by Rayanne Haines, in which she interviews intersectional women, LGBTQ+, and non-binary authors, publishers, editors, agents, booksellers, and more working and living in Alberta about their books and the current state of the publishing industry. In July’s episode, Rayanne interviews Dr. Micheline Maylor. Dr. Maylor was Calgary’s Poet Laureate from 2016-18. Her latest poetry collection is The Bad Wife (University of Alberta Press 2021). The Bad Wife is an intimate, first-hand account of how to ruin a marriage. This is a story of divorce, love, and what should have been, told in a brave and unflinching voice. Pulling the reader into a startling web of sensuality, guilt, resentment, and pleasure, this collection asks: what if you set off a bomb in your own house?

Most simply put, Confessional Poetry is the poetry of the personal or “I.” It is, however, anything but simple. Private experiences and feelings about death, trauma, depression, and relationships are addressed in confessional poetry often in an autobiographical manner. Anne Sexton and Plath were interested in the psychological aspect of poetry and as Maylor put it, Plath and Sexton pushed against normal gendered expectations of the time by gambling life itself. Historically disregarded as too emotive or lacking in an expertise to craft, for most contemporary critics, confessional poetry marked a revolution in poetic style as well as specific subject matter and the relationship between a poem’s speaker and self. When asked about the history of gendering confessional poetry, and the contemporary movements around confessional work, Maylor states, “I think that that’s also a job of the confessional as it evolves, is to push against whatever new norms are erupting. And to say, this is different so being a confessional poet can be one of the most punkass ways to be a badass rebel, because you’re pushing against the norms. So, is it gendered? Not necessarily any more, but I think that it has roots that consider those elements.”

An absolute genius in this form, during this podcast Micheline Maylor speaks about elevating the personal to the universal, the importance of studying craft so one can break the rules and how looking at our confessional work as a Witness safeguards truth and vulnerability while rebelling within the art form. In The Bad Wife, she animates the intimate and in the poem, “Inclement Weather” she deftly weaves the external of witness and the personal in such lines as:

Let those remembrances be balm enough for what has become
of our bombed-out home, empty of my things and the rhythms
we kept. Tell your son, you loved me, keep “once” inside. All
the sky is still in motion. Did you see the weather shift?
Even now, thunderheads might break into blue.

Maylor, a professor at Mount Royal University and Editor at Frontenac House, also speaks about the importance of study; of reading, writing and continued learning. When asked about the most important things authors can look for in editing their poetry collection before beginning the submission process she offered, “it should have its own narrative arc, and then it should have some sort of invitation and climax and relief. Consider, does your opening begin as an invitation? Do you reach a tension or a climax? Are you pushing against thoughts or ideas or societal norms or whatever the case may be in a way that that produces some innovation or inventive thinking, and then somehow comes to some sort of resolution?”

Blunt, intelligent, and poignant, Micheline Maylor talks and writes openly about her failed marriage and the stakes involved in that sharing. She does so with dark humour, yes, but also with a deep vulnerability. When asked about that vulnerability, she says, “I’m pretty comfortable walking around inside out . . . exposing this, to me felt like, if I could talk to another woman who had this experience, it would probably be worth it.”

You can listen to the full episode here:

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Rayanne Haines writing has appeared in Fiddlehead, Freefall, Funicular, and Indefinite Space, among others. She is the Vice President for the League of Canadian Poets and a 2019 Edmonton Artist Trust Fund Award recipient. Her current work focuses on mental health and intergenerational female trauma. Tell the Birds your Body is Not a Gun (her third poetry collection) released April 2021 with Frontenac House.

Tell the Birds Your Body is Not a Gun

by Rayanne Haines

Published in April 2021 by Frontenac House
ISBN 9781989466216

Dr. Micheline Maylor was Calgary’s Poet Laureate 2016-18. Her latest poetry collection is The Bad Wife (2021), and Little Wildheart (University of Alberta Press) was long listed for both the Pat Lowther and Raymond Souster awards. She recently won the Lois Hole Award for Editorial Excellence in Alberta. She teaches creative writing at Mount Royal University and has been recently translated into Farsi.

The Bad Wife

Micheline Maylor (CA)

Published: Mar 09, 2021 by University of Alberta Press
ISBN: 9781772125481
Little Wildheart

Micheline Maylor (CA)

Published: Jan 07, 2017 by University of Alberta Press
ISBN: 9781772122336