He Leaves His Face in the Funeral Car
City of Victoria Butler Book Prize
About this Work
He Leaves His Face in the Funeral Car is elegiac, lyrical, ironic; a series of reflections, recollections; a collection about relationships—to family, clocks, water, trees, ungulates, endings—recognizing that not all relationships are straightforward: a mother’s secret false teeth, a teakettle riddled with bullet holes, pears and small knives. To leave a face in the funeral car is to fall out of time, to fall into history, to ponder the meanings of dust, the quiet records of suicide. This is poetry that covers a broad range, wide and changing, the strangeness of everyday life buoyed by the solace of language, the pleasure of song. Each word in its right place, each poem reflecting beyond surface meaning.
In “Once”, which describes a young girl’s shock at finding her mother deep in grief, Pare provides a salient image for her own art—her ability to understand human suffering, to sense it intuitively from a series of mundane details, and to render the universal experience of loss deeply felt and fresh again.
Arleen Paré’s first book, Paper Trail, won the Victoria Butler Book Prize and was shortlisted for BC Books Dorothy Livesay Prize in Poetry. She has two other books, Leaving Now (Caitlin Press, 2012), a novel, and most recently, Lake of Two Mountains (Brick Books, 2014), a collection of linked poetry, which won the 2014 Governor General’s Award. Her fourth book, He Leaves His Face in the Funeral Car, a collection of poetry, was published by Caitlin Press, Fall 2015. Her writing has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies in Canada. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Victoria.