Lisa Pasold

Travel Writing Workshop

Heather Stimmler-Hall & I are about to begin the October edition of the Travel Writing Workshop here in Paris...  and I am having a tremendous time going through all my favourite travel memoirs, guidebooks, and online travel writing. I used to think travel writing was frivolous, much as I enjoyed doing it. It's difficult not to feel a bit trite, arguing about which macaron au chocolat is really the best. But these days, I think there's a larger goal with this industry, most succinctly phrase by the great writer Maya Angelou:

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” - Maya Angelou

If travel writers can contribute to that goal, count me in. 

Poem Reel 2 - "Velocity" by Megan Burns

I'm working on this video project of Poem Reels - each short video is a poet friend reading work out in the world. This is "Velocity" by Megan Burns. She is reading in front of the building where her brother Dylan Burns shot himself in 2014. He was 29 years old. 


Megan has published three books of poetry; she is the publisher at Trembling Pillow Press. She is also the host of my favourite New Orleans reading series, Blood Jet. And she is the co-founder of the New Orleans Poetry Festival.


Writing every day

Off to Los Angeles for the WRITING AS A DAILY PRACTICE workshop that I'm hosting with Cecilia Woloch. Really looking forward to discussing journals, daily writing, and all kinds of literary ideas with a great group of people. And I'm hoping to squeeze in a visit to Venice Beach, to stroll along the shore and visit one of my favourite bookshops, Small World Books, on the boardwalk. (I imagine it will be warmer than it was in January, when I was last there!)

Poem Reel 1 - Cecilia Woloch reads "Girl in a Truck"

in my travels this year, i'm working on a series of short video poem reels: poet-friends reading one of their poems, somewhere out in the world. i'm really pleased to have the first one up now: Cecilia Woloch with "Girl in a Truck" (filmed when I was in Los Angeles)

The poem is from Cecilia's collection, Carpathia, out with BOA Editions. 


A bit of frivolity - happy 14 juillet!

Not one of Chaplin's better films...but I really do like her hat.  

Memoir Workshop coming up in Paris

Autobiographical writing / generative memoir workshop Monday, May 2, 18h - 21h

Presented by authors Jennifer K Dick and Lisa Pasold, this workshop is in partnership with Ivy Writers Paris, hosting a reading and discussion dedicated to the Poetic Memoir on May 3rd.
35 euros at Lisa Pasold’s home in the 18th. Sign up and get location address via the contact page!


This workshop will explore our variegated ways of putting our selves—re-membering ourselves--onto the page. We will make use of old letters/emails/blog entries, journals, scrapbooks (if you desire), and the memories we often hide. Exercises will begin with a focus on exploring narrative, then move onto more sensorial recollection techniques based on how the senses return us to other times. In our 3 short hours together, you will end up writing a series of small memoir works, which may relate to a longer piece in process. You will certainly leave with a handful of tools, ideas and techniques you can maneuver in your own ways when you return to work on your prose or poetry. You will also be supplied with extracts by writers Lisa and Jennifer admire in hopes that these works can also inspire, teach and generate work for you in and out of our workshop.


Please bring a notebook & pen, as well as either a few old letters, emails, journals, blogs or photos as base materials. This workshop is aimed at all writers, writing at any level and in any genre. We look forward to trying out some new methods for tackling old experiences!


Note: Invitation: We hope you will follow this workshop by attending  the “Poetic Autobiography” reading and discussion on Tuesday evening, May 3rd with Claude Ber, Marielle Anselmo and Lisa Samuels—the Ivy event is free & begins at 19h30. Please join us! 


Workshops coming up...

This spring in Paris, I'm leading three writing workshops with author Jennifer K. Dick--who is a good friend & who helped edit two of my poetry books. Both Jen and I have taught creative writing workshops in Europe and North America, and we're thrilled to have a chance to work together in our favourite city. We're looking forward to talking about your work, sharing methods we've used to hone our writing practice, and discuss the wonderful books we continue to learn from. So far, we have three workshops on offer, each different. Check out the details... And note the special deal: If you sign up for all three, you get a 15euro discount.

Le Chat Noir

Every now & then, I get to read at the long-running series,Spoken Word Paris. Though I can't click my heels and bring you to the downstairs "cave" of Le Chat Noir, I can offer you this link to the brand new Spoken Word Paris podcast --I am thrilled to be part of their first recording:!

Take a listen—it’s almost like being at the Chat Noir.

Forwards into 2016!

"Whenever the devil harasses you thus, seek the company of men, or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing...” - Martin Luther, 1530. Now we are past the darkest days of winter and the light is growing--let's dance! The Martin Luther quote comes from this wonderful article about Little Richard in the Oxford American, written by David Ramsey. So, to spite the devil, here is Little Richard himself with 'Long Tall Sally'...

To make music more intensely...

What I did last night: I heard the news with horror & contacted friends to make sure they had reached safety.


What I did last night: I went to the theatre in New Orleans, to see a new play by Joseph Furnari and to hear Adelina Patti's repertoire gorgeously sung by Katherine McClain. 


Both performers reminded me that the creative life force of humanity is the only belief system I value. To put it more poetically, "This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than every before." --which is perhaps a quote from Leonard Bernstein. Whether he said exactly this or not, the words are a good torch to follow. 


I believe the only brave response to insanity is to say NO, I will not lock myself in my house & sandbag the doors...against the enemy, against the refugees, against the infidel. Because that will let them, and I do not care who they are, into my heart.

Art, defined

Everything you need for the Trans-Canada trip...

In the footsteps of...


I've always been fascinated by the tales of Marco Polo--part of the inspiration for my book Any Bright Horse! Recently I had the chance to walk along part of an old Silk Route in Armenia, near Yerevan. Eerie mountains on either side of a great valley... 

Dream trips

Who wouldn’t want to step back in time just for a week in order to hop the Orient Express? Certainly it's high on my list of time-travel choices (where's Doctor Who when you need him?)

The photos are from the beautifully-restored train cars at the Institut du Monde Arabe—a magical exhibit which has stayed in my head for months. Different rooms are dedicated to famous Orient Express travellers; my favourite was Josephine Baker’s sleeping compartment, below.

What I'm working on now...

Writing about the river gives me a great chance to take pictures of riverboats...

Wishing you a wonderful celebratory season!

Looking forward to 2015... Happy holidays from the festive aguave!

Paris vs Prague - cakes & coffee

I love cafes in both Paris & Prague, and while they do share some historical similarities, they're also different in one crucial factor: Prague has a heritage of Austro-Hungarian style coffeehouses, which for me really just means one thing: cake with whipped cream. Now, I have a great love for poppy-seed cake, but there are also good arguments to be made for chocolate Sacher torte (which is Viennese but turns up in most Prague cafes)...

Dames of New Orleans

Featuring my knighthood nominations for March 2014:


New Orleans has a generous historical list of sirens, suffragettes, and superheroines—women I’m going to generally refer to as dames, because a dame is a women with determination—and also the female equivalent of a knighthood. And these women are DAMES. I’m spending the month of March in New Orleans and in honour of Women’s History Month, I’m nominating 31 historical women for personal knighthoods. Each of these women from history spent time in New Orleans over the past few centuries.


Every day, I’ll add an inspiring woman that I’ve come across in my reading—some well-known, some lesser-known, but each one a crucial contributor to the New Orleans of today. I’ll include a quote when possible, a link to more information about each NOLA dame’s life, and an address in New Orleans to commemorate her. 

March 1: 1st LA pharmacist: Sister Francis Xavier Hebert, 1727, establishes medical herb garden at Royal Hospital (Ursuline Convent) Visit this site for more info about Sister Francis Xavier & for photos of today's herb garden. 


March 2: Former African slave Justine Fervin Couvent founds 1st school for orphans of Free People of Colour 1832. More about Mme Couvent here; The Last Will and Testament of La Veuve Couvent states: “I wish and ordain that my land at the corner of Grands Hommes (now Dauphine) and Union (now Touro) streets will be forever dedicated and employed for the establishment of a free school for the orphans of color of the Faubourg Marigny”.


March 3: Journalist & suffragette Elizabeth Lyle Saxon petitions the 1879 LA Constitutional Convention for women’s right to vote. 100 yrs ago today, women marched on Washington for the Right to Vote. More here 


March 4: 1876: journalist & SPCA advocate Eliza Jane Nicholson (pseud Pearl Rivers) named 1st woman daily news publisher in US. Nicholson inherits a nearly-bankrupt New Orleans Picayune and turns it into a successful dynamic newspaper with new features such as special Carnival/Mardi Gras coverage. In 1884, Nicholson becomes president of the Women’s National Press Association. More about Miss Eliza Jane here


March 5: “I will fight for my country but I will not lie for her.” – Zora Neale Hurston, Florida writer & NOLA Voodoo ethnographer  While researching Mules and Men (her fantastic book of folktales and Hoodoo investigation), ZNH lived for a little while at 2744 Amelia Street, New Orleans & later at 7 Bellevue Court in Algiers. 


The ebook for RATS OF LAS VEGAS is now out in the world, available here, and I am thrilled to bits about it. Take a look! Admire! Download!

What's especially exciting about this ebook is that now my character Millard can meet new people. Her story can be read on airplanes and trains and on dark submarines when you have insomnia.

I am still very attached to the real-world hardcover version of the book created by Enfield & Wizenty--you can visit its web home here.  Sometimes the real-world hardcover is better, y'know...because it remains difficult to loan an ebook to a friend. It is difficult to say "oh i have to read you this paragraph, here i dog-eared the page" because no, you have to turn on the device & find the note you left and locate it in the pageless wonder-scroll that is the ebook & the romance is just, honestly, not the same. You cannot leave a number of books open to be admired just as wonderful encouraging objects, if they exist only as ebooks. And (perhaps most dire of all) reading the ebook in the bath is really not recommended.

Evil or Excellent eBook?

So, my novel Rats of Las Vegas is about to become an eBook. It already has been an eBook for a brief period of time, but that version had roughly a gazillion typos & other issues, which should be resolved by the NEW IMPROVED eBook. (huge shout-out to Louis Maistros who helped me with this!)

But before I open the champagne, I want to be honest here: I find eBooks weird...


Exciting news! The television show PARIS NEXT STOP which I worked on all this past winter & spring is now being broadcast on Discovery...check your schedule if you have cable! I so enjoyed hosting this show.

The Next Big Thing: What I'm working on

Talking about my work-in-progress terrifies me. But it is probably a good habit to confront such things before breakfast... and two writers I respect & love, Lauren B. Davis and Jennifer K. Dick, both tagged me with this—many thanks, you two. Now I owe ya. So...this is a questionnaire which has been circulating through writerly websites: ‘the questions are the same for everyone. The answers, they are not.”

The end of the world with Victor Hugo

I went to see LES MISERABLES. Yes, I know the movie has some historical 'foibles' but I love its creative choices. I think Victor Hugo might even approve of his novel's transition through musical theatre into film--he enjoyed using melodrama for effect.

When the June 1832 uprising began, Hugo was apparently in the Tuileries Garden. He heard gunfire coming from Les Halles. A firm supporter of revolutionary ideals--and no doubt curious to see news events first-hand--Hugo left the Jardins. It's possible to retrace part of his route...

Governor General's Award nomination

i am incredibly honoured that my book, Any Bright Horse, is one of this year's nominees for the Governor General's Literary Award in Poetry

The Governor General is Queen Elizabeth II's representative in Canada; the award dates back to 1937 and winners include Margaret Atwood, Mordecai Richler, and Leonard Cohen. Needless to say, I'm pretty darn thrilled to be nominated.

Happy birthday, Mister Faulkner!

Faulkner's birthday in the Crescent City: real mint juleps in traditional silver cups, a perfect sunset, and Napoleon's deathmask in the next room

(Of course, nothing in New Orleans is entirely what it seems, and this mask might actually be the face of Bony's friend who sometimes pretended to be the fallen emperor. It is accompanied by the emperor's handkerchief. which is somehow so much sadder, so fragile and starched and old, more tragically human than the overlarge paperweight of the deathmask.)


William Faulkner lived in this city for barely 16 months, but his relationship with the place was as formative as Hemingway's with Paris. He invented himself various times over--and routinely stole other people's stories to make his own life more interesting. And it was here that he really became a writer. He was often quiet, often dishonest, and often disreputable. Anita Loos (author of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and one of my personal heroines) was introduced to him with the warning 'don't expect much of Bill, he has a silver plate in his head, you know.' 


Faulkner did not have a plate in his head--this was just one of his many invented personas. He did drink rather a lot. And apparently his favourite cocktail was a mint julep. So that is what we raise in toast to his fabulous convoluted sentences and tremendous story-telling.

any bright horse - 1st review

"The narrator meditates on the ebb and flow of motion and stillness, and the disorientation involved in returning home... Pasold acknowledges Don McKay and Daphne Marlatt as influences: both have an affinity for nature imagery and graceful ease in poetically conveying human experiences. Pasold carries on their traditions with distinction, craft and beauty."

- Quill & Quire review for ANY BRIGHT HORSE



when the new book gets reviewed, it is stressful.


when the new book gets reviewed by Quill & Quire in the July/August issue, it is even more stressful.


when the new book gets reviewed by Quill & Quire in their July/August issue and I am out of the country & can't get a copy, it is even more super-extra-stressful.


but the review is good! break out the champagne! the review is really great. i should probably send critic Shannon Webb-Campbell a glass of Veuve-Clicquot, but i don't know her. she might not like champagne.


(the whole review is here )


 AND... happy Bastille Day!

The Goldmine

Ottawa poet/editor/publisher rob mclennan hit New Orleans to read with his lady Christine McNair and with Stephen Brockwell at the atmospheric Goldmine. Of course, it is New Orleans, so most venues are pretty damn atmospheric...but the Goldmine is the home of 17 Poets! hosted by Dave Brinks & Megan Burns--for a perfect description of the recent Canuck-invasion soiree, see rob's blog here.


The Goldmine always makes me think of Dawson City, because really the place could only exist here in New Orleans or in Dawson. There's a fissure in the floor that runs down past the performance/reading area, a fissure that surely leads to a gold seam deep in the swampland of Crescent City. And whenever any poet reads a poem about death (and poets, well, they often read poems about death)--whenever that happens, one of the old pinball or video machines in the front part of the bar gurgles and bings to itself, in a secret game-thought about obsolescence and poetic survival.

Big Bridge 15th anniversary issue

The latest issue of Big Bridge is now online & I'm thrilled to be included alongside Paris-based poets like Alice Notley & Jennifer K. Dick. Check out my work (excerpted from any bright horsehere

ANY BRIGHT HORSE debuts in Calgary

My first reading from the new book! I was at the April 2012 Calgary Spoken Word Festival (founded by kick-ass poet & performer Sheri-D Wilson). 

Back in New Orleans

thunderstorms across a city that smells of jasmine flowers, crawfish, mules & mud. living on Bourbon Street (no lie), and reading Vincent A. Cellucci's AN EASY PLACE / TO DIE. because this city rings, an old cracked bell/belle:


“This book is a journey through the bookended history of poetry localized in the most magical place in America. The poems are eager to turn you on to death. Not erotically. Nor religiously. Nor philosophically. Simply. May they ease you as they ease me. We are all death’s children and we’ve yet to stop squirming but poetry is our grandmothers’ whiskey dipped pacifier. Poems are also words living on a page. Simple moments when the world rings instead of your cell.” - Cellucci


John Kliphan & The Live Poets Society

John Kliphan is one of the reasons I'm a poet in Paris, and I'm going to miss him. John died last month, here in the city he loved. The Live Poets Society, founded, curated, and directed by John, was the longest-running reading series of its kind in Paris. Through Live Poets, we were given the chance to meet once a month--always in an excellent pub--to listen to new work, hear old favourites, and talk about poetry. For John, poetry was something very much alive and spoken; he used to explain patiently that Live Poets wasn't a Society you could buy a membership simply became part of it by showing up, by listening, and by reading your work. He always (ALWAYS) wore a black beret.


John was one of the first people who ever invited me to be "a featured reader" and he actually paid his poets for their work, which was (and remains) a radical concept. He believed that poetry was valid, necessary, and completely normal, rather like breathing--a lesson which I continue to appreciate. I was lucky to read with John a few times, and I'm honoured to be part of his memorial reading on March 4. 

Here's John Kliphan's poem for Chet Baker, from his collection, Chain Songs:


I don't want to die

I just want to go in the back room

For a while


Mysterious Passages - walking in Paris

what kind of noise exactly does a lobster make while walking along Italian marble mosaics? in honour of Gerard de Nerval, a pet lobster featured as a character today in the story-walk through the 19th-century arcades between Passages Jouffroy & the Palais-Royal...

Cafe du Monde, New Orleans

after the beignets have disappeared - the tell-tale icing sugar trails out of the Cafe du Monde and into the night

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