Elisabeth de Mariaffi

Elisabeth de Mariaffi

BandSpoken Word

Evocative work characterized by direct statement. Poet V Nature: then she cuts a bitch at the end. Manuscript? Called Ginger Rogers KO Style, poems focus on the dialectics of power and identity.


Elisabeth de Mariaffi has seen her poetry published in a fat handful of Canadian journals, including CV2, PRISM International, Prairie Fire and Descant; she was also the recipient of the 2007 Lina Chartrand Award for poetry. Right this minute? New fiction is forthcoming in both The New Quarterly and The Fiddlehead. She's been publishing and reading publicly for 12 years and is currently hard at work on her MFA at the University of Guelph-Humber. She has won grants from both the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts council, and sincerely hopes to someday finish her manuscript. Or any manuscript. Influences include Anne Carson, Karen Solie, Esta Spalding, Anne Sexton.


Solve for x

Written By: Elisabeth de Mariaffi

Solve for x

What makes you most unhappy: other people’s
optimism. Lovely. To your own
secret conviction that nothing
is worth fixing, apply the logical
fallacy of western consumerism. It’s always easier
to buy new. Being demonstrably flawed renders
the whole thing invalid. Never mind. I change
my answer. Snap out of it; get drunk; and for the love

of Pete, learn to say No. Develop a theory, anything,
to beard-up this disaster. Find Geology,
or else god. This is what all the walking’s
been about. An environmental solution
to an old problem: how come Johnny
can’t read? Where Johnny = you,
and read = stay committed. Keep on. You

did everything right. Whether the sequence went
wrong, and then right; or right, and then wrong,
no longer matters. There’s a lot to forgive. The starling
that flew against your windshield in the moment of your leaving,
one more thing gone with the slam
of your door, its slapdash death, a clumsy flip
of the skull, a two-second suicide. It’s possible that love

was after all never what you wanted, rather this
solitary march dried heads of goldenrod ash-banded lake
the few surviving birds calling back
and forth to anyone who’ll listen.


Written By: Elisabeth de Mariaffi


Were you drunk when it happened?
Did you put your name on the birth certificate?
If I scanned your index finger, with which authorities
would I find a record of the print?
You did what with a can of Fanta?

Describe your understanding of the word “habitual”.
When you listen to The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” do you experience
a state of enlightenment?
Have you ever been told you could benefit from sensitivity training?
How often do you use the following phrase: I am not an alcoholic.
I just exhibit alcoholic behaviours.

What is your experience of the term “persecutory delusions?”
Have you ever owned a poisonous reptile and then accidently lost it?
Do most of your friends go by names they have recently made up?
Do you often find yourself in this situation?

How many of the following statements apply to you:
a) My mind has never been sharper.
b) I have special plans for the world.
c) I often find omens or messages directed specifically to me.
d) I have driven a motorized vehicle into a brick wall on more than one occasion.

Have you ever explained a situation by stating: I didn’t throw it at you, baby. I just needed
to throw something, and you happened to be standing there?
Have you ever engaged in hand-to-hand combat with a government vehicle?
If a woman crosses the street to avoid you, do you consider it flirtation?
True or false: I have sustained injuries resulting from the injudicious use of a guitar capo.

Do you enjoy the movie Repo Man?
When you say “kitchen,” do you mean “hotplate?”
When you say “self-employed,” do you mean “welfare?”
When you knock something down, do you know how to pick it up?

Comes With Feather Duster

Written By: Elisabeth de Mariaffi

Comes With Feather Duster

There’s someone out there, his eye
leveling in through the night. It’s brighter
inside than out, windowglass
the glossy tint of a child’s
aquarium. Your lights all on: what

were you thinking? Leaning against the long
slope of garden wall, or out
on the balcony, low-crouched. He’s watching.
Crying or fucking or whatever it is
else you do. There are things you can do to please him,

think of pleasing
things: up on your toes, tacking
a nail into the wall, the loaded sling
of hammer in your hand. Your deft
caper onto the counter. Spray

of the kitchen sink, fingernails
glutted with the flesh of an orange. You want to suck
them off a little. Don’t. He’s waiting.
Leave your apron on.


Recent publications:
forthcoming fiction:
The Astonishing Abercrombie! (New Quarterly)
Ajaccio Belonged to the Genoese (The Fiddlehead)

forthcoming poetry:
Washing Day (The Antigonish Review)

Spring 2008
Aubade 1 (Contemporary Verse 2)

Spring 2008
Requirements for Flight (Descant)

Winter 2008
Night Poems
The Lion Tamer’s Son (Prairie Fire)

Winter 2007/08:
For Yankl
Tender is the Night (Descant)

Spring 2006:
Wedding Photo 1942 (Contemporary Verse 2)

Winter 2006:
That day (PRISM International)

Set List

Readings can go from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on venue and material. A typical poetry reading would be about 15 minutes, which translates to about 10 poems, maybe fewer. Or else a complete short story, 15-20 minutes.