Finalist for the 2009 Wilfred Eggleston Award for Non-Fiction
$18.00 CDN / $18.00 US | Trade Paperback
The term still life did not come into being until 1650. The French adopted the term nature morte, dead nature, around 1750. The painter de Chirico was said to have preferred the Italian term vita silente. The Japanese, however, call still life, calm things. Calm Things is the title essay of this collection of meditations on what it is like to live with still life, and to live poetically. Both an insider’s glimpse into the precarious world of artist and poet, and a long gaze at objects and the calm and silence they hold, these essays prize the ordinary, radiant gift of common things.
Praise for Calm Things
In part a consideration of the mysterious life of objects, in part a meditation on the art of still life, in part a love song to her husband, visual artist Robert Lemay, and in part a reflection on the craft of poetry, this is a book in the tradition of Rilke’s Letters on Cezanne. A writer looks deeply at paintings, and in the exercise of her deep attention, she learns and teaches as much about the art of writing as she does about the art of painting. It is a book about one art form that guides a reader towards a deeper understanding of all art forms. It is a book that both embodies and instructs us on the need for, and place of, loving attention and receptivity in our over-crowded, jangling lives.—Prairie Fire
Lemay’s essays will appeal to those who wish to look at the world the way a still-life artist does: delicately and from oblique angles…. The cool temperature in her voice remains curious about everything from cone seashells to teacups and bowls… Despite jostling between objects and emotions, Lemay rarely succumbs to sentimental reverie without purpose; nor does she attempt to make bric-a-brac shimmer with empty words. In a kind of Roethkean or Keatsian sense, Calm Things describes the imaginative power commonplace objects hold.—The Malahat Review