Monday, October 27, 2008


The painting to the right of my desk is by Natalka Husar, titled Odalisque. To the right is an oil sketch by Rob, my partner. It`s the view in a mirror ball of our last house.

The table beside the red velvet chair holds the books I`ll be reading next. The wooden mango was brought back from West Africa by a friend who lived there for several years.

The buddha head. No other knick-knacks allowed here. Clean. Tidy. A spot to rest my eyes. The weaving below the head is also from West Africa.

The windowsill holds mainly gifts. Faux fruit, a bottle of ouzo, from friends, and clay crafts made by our daughter. Also an assortment of stones. And a postcard from a friend who visited the Museum of Purses and Handbags in Amsterdam.

My bookshelves contain (besides books): Venetian masks, handbags, a photograph of the woods at St. Peter`s Abbey in Saskatchewan, bird nests, shells, some of my doodles and other odds and ends.

Shawna Lemay for DESK SPACE


SHAWNA LEMAY Shawna Lemay: forges, forages.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book (or when are you publishing your next)?

SL My first book (All the God-Sized Fruit) came out in 1999. My next book is called Calm Things - a book of essays about living with still life. (My partner is Robert Lemay, a visual artist, still life painter). It's coming out with Palimpsest Press in October 2008. Soon! After that, I have a book of poetry, Red Velvet Forest, coming out with The Muses Company in the spring of 2009.

DS Where do write (at your desk/outside/in bed)

SL When I write in my notebook, I sit in my decrepit red velvet chair. It`s suitably uncomfortable and yet comforting. I move to my desk when I`m working on my computer. It`s good to have the window to stare out of. At the moment the neighbour`s tree is full of apples.

DS Why you work where you do (at your desk because it is a quiet space/outside b/c it helps you think/in the park b/c you can smoke, etc)?

SL My room is my nest, my hive, meticulously arranged to induce daydreams. It is where, as Rilke said, I may be magnificently alone. Maybe too, it is because I am able to listen to those things which are insignifcant here. From Bachelard: ``No doubt, one would have to sink into profound daydreaming to be moved by the vast museum of insignificant things.` Maybe I have been influenced by my study of still life, by my everyday exposure to still life, in my arrangement of things in this room. Maybe the arrangement of things, knick-knacks, is more haphazard.

DS What are you working on now?

SL I`m writing about the possibility of a woman art forger, about the belief in this possibility. I`m interested in anonymity, hidden-ness, how we see, what remains invisible. I`m interested in suspicion, confessions, lies, obfuscation. I`m interested in belief. Not to mention fakery, forgery, mystification, shams, scams, hoaxes, greed, hunger. I`m interested in what is real and honest. I`m moving back and forth between fiction and creative non-fiction. It`s quite likely that I`ll never quite finish this piece and I`m not sure that I want to. It`s the most satisfying thing I`ve ever written, a most satisfying place to hide.


Brenda Schmidt said...

What a beautiful space! So warm.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. I wondering how I can move in. I have office desk space envy.