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Feature Poet

        Poetry Canada


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This month’s featured poet is: Leslie Greentree

Leslie Greentree
Leslie Greentree, 2004 Griffin Award Nominee was at work when her publisher told her the great news. "I had to go on the internet to the Griffin website to see my name there before it could start to sink in", Leslie, the author of "go-go dancing for Elvis" stated. Sharing her evening with poetry icons such as Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, and Billy Collins "was a huge thing for me".

Leslie's first book "guys named Bill" took 2 years to hit the poetry scene, with her favourite poems from it being "torturer of worms" and "a new bed", which she explains is about a woman buying a new bed after her marriage breaks up.

With her sister Rian, and a bottle of wine, they started about what a cool, funky kind of gig their younger sister had as a back-up dancer for an Elvis impersonator. Then we went on to laugh about some of the strange and quirky opportunities they've had. By the end of the night, Leslie recollects "I realized I had the idea for a manuscript -- and the title -- firmly lodged in my head. While I borrowed some facts from my sister's life, the story became very fictional, and was great fun to write. I wanted to explore the way that other people's choices can make us re-examine our own. Overall I wanted to move people, and shake things up."

I attended the Griffin short-list reading to hear the nominees, and like Leslie, one of my favourites from "go-go dancing for Elvis" is called "if I was a gate," which is about a divorced woman learning to use an electric drill, and falling in love with it. Leslie says "I laughed my head off while I was writing this poem, but I think mastering power tools is a very heady experience for some women. It's a freedom," and based on the crowds response, I would agree.

Some of her inspirations are from the works of Carol Shields, Mordecai Richler, Rosemary Sullivan, Dave Eggers, Susan Musgrave and Neil Finn, from Crowded House. "His music was very important to me at different points in my life, and he created such strange, riveting metaphors. I've always had questions for him about all the weather in his songs."

From her gypsy roots as she moved frequently as a child, to Red Deer Alberta where she now calls home, Leslie has taken a humorous spin on every day life, and used her voice to include us. She is busy on her next manuscript, and is ready for whatever comes.

Featured in Poetry Canada magazine

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