Who We Are

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Who We Are

“Every definition is dangerous,” according to Erasmus. And yet we are all defined in one way or another. One way is by association. For example the inscription on one of two headstones in the garden of Wedgwood Manor: Here Lies The Body Of Lucy Caroline, Daughter Of Josiah Wedgwood And Wife of Commander M.J. Harrison, R.N., Died 25 June, 1912. Aged 72. The other is by rank: Here Lies The Body Of Mathew James Harrison, Commander R.N., Died June 26, 1926 Aged 79. Lucy is identified by whom she belongs to, while Mathew is identified by who he has become.

My collection of erotic short stories, WORD MADE FLESH, breaks with the biological imperative that defines Lucy and Mathew. This collection of stories questions traditional and conventional perceptions of sex and religion, language and sexuality, public nudity and age, body and denial, innocence and attraction, in short, the sensual, sexual and erotic. All of theses stories have been published in magazines and journals (some more than once). If you would like a peek, visit darlenequaife.com.

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Where We Live

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‘Yes, I live in my own little world, but it’s ok, they know me here.’

In that world I’m writing a collection of short stories called BLACK BLIZZARD. Set in 1937 during the Great Depression, the stories also encompass the Spanish Civil War. Canadians from all over our nation, primary unemployed men, joined a special regiment, the Mac-Paps. “Despite their government’s attitude of neutrality some 1,300 Canadians volunteered to fight for Spanish democracy, as members of the Mackenzie-Papineau battalion.

My story “Missing in Action” published in ‘Alberta Views’ and ‘The Best of Alberta Anthology from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’ explores this period. “Missing in Action” was also produced for radio broadcast by CBC and can be heard on my website darlenequaife.com. The print version is also available on my website, menu item Short Stories: 1937: Great Depression.

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Art is the Sex of Imagination

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“Art is the sex of imagination.”

The George Jean Nathan quote: “Art is the sex of imagination.” appears in my graphic novel, Death Writes: A Curious Notebook. Why? Because it’s arresting, enigmatic and cool. What does it mean? Hmm…that’s a tough one. What I know is I use my art and my imagination to tackle the hard questions. Death Writes is the world according to Death. Death’s point of view, Death’s words and Death’s doodles. Not to mention Death’s notices – clippings stuffed into the back of the notebook. This Curious Notebook rewrites the culture of death as we know it.

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Light. Or failing that, lightning …

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I love lightning but generally opt for light in the form of knowledge. As a writer and a painter I thrive on the connection between curiosity, research and creation. ‘Understand to create an understanding’ is how I think of it. I’ve included a photo of my books to make a point about each one being completely different in subject, time and place and consequently, requiring extensive research. In my line of work I get to sate my curiosity and to learn. Those aforementioned books are not set in any place I’ve lived: I don’t want reality to get in the way of imagination. I don’t want to be tied down by a known world. “Light: or, failing that, lightning: the world can take its choice. – Thomas Carlyle”

By way of example, two kinds of light:

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Prehistoric cave art and the Spanish Civil War: the subject of my next novel, “The Primitives.” One of my characters is modelled on the Canadian poet and artist, P. K. Page. She is in northern Spain documenting newly discovered Palaeolithic cave art before it is destroyed by the war. Here are some of the paintings she subsequently made from her sketches. In my mind, anyway.

I hope to recreate my character’s sketchbook as a visual addition to the novel. I have a passion for prehistoric cave art and my paintings here are an humble attempt to touch the creative magic of our ancestors. See darlenequaife.com/gallery for more original art

Sound and Fury

 

To quote the prolific British writer, Christopher Fowler, “Originality has a tendency to decrease one’s popularity.” What passes in our world as originality is mere novelty. And if Fowler is right in his observation, those truly original thinkers, writers and artists could be lost to us. Overwhelmed by the “sound and fury” of a distracted culture “signifying nothing.”

 

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The Chaos Whisperer

 

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‘Chaos Whisperer’ is the hero name for writers and artists. These creators take the chaos that is life and hold it still for the briefest of moments so we can look closely. How else can we come to know a world in flux; to know what it is to be human.

 

This is particularly true of my book “Death Writes: A Curious Notebook”. My attempt to look death in the eye after losing my parents and a brother. A way to still riotous Death long enough to get a look inside. A revealation.

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