Laurie MacFayden


walking through turquoise

“i am walking through turquoise again
pondering night skies, trees, existence
these hands, my hands,
an exact fit with your hands”

kissing keeps us afloat

Quartet 2014 (Frontenac House).
Winner, 2015 Golden Crown Literary Society poetry award.

There’s a lot of kissing in this book, and a lot of water. From joyous lips to night swimming, first love to last rites, Kissing Keeps Us Afloat is awash in the things that buoy us and the things that nearly destroy us.

The poems pulse with swashbuckling heroines and fast makeout cars; exuberant red crayons and irresistible red lipstick. MacFayden celebrates raw, burgeoning desire while decoding jealousy, grief and family dysfunction with equal aplomb. Kissing Keeps Us Afloat reminds us we are at the mercy of the tides — whether it’s the thrill of uncharted waters or safe harbours we seek.

‘I like to write about the possibilities of love;
of bobbing along, dreamily floating, keeping our hearts
and heads above water. Because love is the lifeline,
and the reality is, we’re all drowning.’

— Laurie MacFayden, Kissing Keeps Us Afloat

“Swinging and searing verses, meditative narratives, honky-tonk tunes and catalogues of favoured things (including what lovers bring — or leave behind), all merge to make Kissing Keeps Us Afloat a book for tongues and lips to sing. MacFayden knows painting and music, and she loves words and women. The result is art without limit, craft without regret, and poetry that faces trauma and embraces the erotic. MacFayden’s poetry is both red-hot and cool-blue, white lies and film noir, memory and truth. In the supposed mundane, she shows us, transcendence awaits.”

— George Elliott Clarke

“The colour red infuses Kissing Keeps Us Afloat as blood, anger, and love infiltrate our lives. Red flows as wondrous crayons shading in the shape of a life lived passionately. With flashes of humour and the occasional playful rhyme, MacFayden urges us to keep loving, losing, caring, and colouring. Not always with the red crayons, but these poems remind us to keep those ones — in their hues of crimson and lust — well-sharpened.”

— Kimmy Beach

White Shirt

In this debut poetry collection by former sports journalist Laurie MacFayden, best friends scream downhill on their ten-speed bikes; a tree planter spells out her lover’s name in seedlings; and a mysterious entity steps out of the mist in Stanley Park. The author contemplates how best to seduce Joan of Arc and goes on an abstract-expressionist date with Jackson Pollock. Like the white shirt in the title, these poems are crisp, seductive and a little bit sweaty.

Winner, 2011 Golden Crown Literary Society Awards
Finalist, 2011 Lambda Literary Awards

How to Order

White Shirt ($16) is part of Frontenac House’s Dektet 10th anniversary lineup. To order White Shirt, click here.


“Laurie MacFayden’s White Shirt is the sort of garment
that appeals and reveals far more than it conceals.
Love, longing, loss and desire drip and swirl
like the poet’s own Pollock-inspired cover art.”

— Alberta Views

“MacFayden’s poems are bright, colorful splashes of language … boisterous, roughhousing, tomboyish poems. But for all of their energy and muscle-flexing, they have a wonderful, carefully crafted artistry that contains and balances their zesty play on words, zany metaphors and sexual exuberance. … Poetry and humanity both need her lusty, never-give-up, never-stay-down spirit wrapped in masterfully executed poems.”

— Rob Jacques

“White Shirt announces itself with stunning cover art by MacFayden herself. The cover art, Allegra, its violent lashings and splatters of paint, testifies to MacFayden’s sensibility: Her work is ejaculations, vivid, colourful, clashing, all indelibly marking the white page. … Come to think of it, MacFayden’s cover painting also recalls the black, yellow, red explosion that is the cover for Irving Layton’s poetry book Fornalutx. She also seems to share his admirable frankness.”

— Halifax Chronicle Herald

“… at home in the canon of Canadian lyricism.”

— The Globe and Mail

“Laurie MacFayden is one of my favourite poets. Her poems vibrate with a sensorial precision that never fails to capture. From a wild date with Jackson Pollock, to poems of longing and desire, to clear-eyed rants on sexuality, she does what all great writers do – that is; she shines her incredible, unique light on what it is to be human. MacFayden pushes at the darkness with her poetry – she titillates, teases, intrigues and entertains – and I hope she keeps doing it for a very, very long time.”

— Thomas Trofimuk, author of Waiting for Columbus

“when i first heard laurie macfayden read in edmonton, it was obvious she was a cut above the pack of poets waiting for their turn to be heard. she’s a drag queen in a pink limousine, journalist of whyte ave & the two-lane world, an important lady in an important time.”

— c.r. avery, beatbox poet and spoken-word outlaw

“This is the ‘classic’ hard-drinking, hard-living, gravelly poet’s voice – only it comes from a woman. It’s a bust-out-of-the-closet voice where occasional touchstone rhymes and furious lists score the page. The poems are stripped down, poignant, exact, and as heartily playful as any serious blues. Here is Sappho crossed with the Supremes.”

— Jury, Dektet 2010