Lisa Pasold


Winter in Paris can be grey after the holidays. The sparkly lights are coming down, the "galette des rois" for Epiphany has been eaten, and the best thing to do is stay inside. Which got me thinking about the many "hidden" paintings in the Louvre, tucked away on the upper floors, where you're all alone apart from the rare ghostly voices of tourists who got lost up here way back in 1983... Some of my favourite works are stuck up there, singing away to themselves. Including this 17th-century snake painting by the marvellously-named Otto Marseus van Schreick. I like to think of the garden waiting out there in the rain, dreaming its strange dreams & working towards spring. If you need me, I'll be inside, wrapped up in a blanket, reading a book...

Curious Minds Paris Lectures - the names & places!

Hello Monday morning people! As requested, here is a list of the people & places I mention during my Hotdocs' Curious Minds series, "Learning From Paris"... in case you want to look up more information or visit the specific locations when you're next in Paris! I'll be updating this list as we go through the series. At the very end of this post, you'll find a reading list of books I love.

Sept 18: The Bones of Paris - Anne of Kiev, queen of France, stood at her palace window in 1152. She was married to King Henri I. We also discussed the Romans & the Parisii, Saint-Denis, Sainte-Genevieve, and Maurice de Sully, Bishop of Paris--the man who "dreamed" of Notre Dame. 

Sept 25: The Food of Paris - We looked at work from photographer Willy Ronis. Louis VI ("King Louis the Fat") was the instigator who moved the market to its location in Les Halles, in 1136. Victor Baltard was the architect of the great 19th-century buildings for Les Halles. I mentioned a few restaurants, including Chartier (a Belle Epoque "bouillon" restaurant), the gorgeous high-end Train Bleu, opened in 1901, located inside the Gare de Lyon, and also the Brasserie Lipp on the Left Bank. One of my favourite open air food markets in Paris is on Thurs & Sun mornings at metro Bastille & stretches up the boulevard Richard-Lenoir. And this is a still-life by painter Anne Vallayer-Coster:

Oct 2: The Words of Paris - We talked about the 1671 literary salon of Mme de Lafayette, who lived on the rue de Vaugirard facing the entrance to the Jardins de Luxembourg. Her salon included La Fontaine (of the Fables), La Rochefoucauld, and Mme de Sevigne (sometimes spelled "Sevigny".) Then we moved to the Cafe Procope, opened in the 1680s. We visited the coffeehouse in 1849, and eavesdropped on literary lions George Sand, Victor Hugo, Honore de Balzac, Alexandre Dumas, and Gustave Flaubert. We also popped by the Hugo museum, in Place des Vosges (where you can visit George Sand's cigarette lighter, in the souvenir table Hugo had made.) And we discussed the original Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, opened by Sylvia Beach. We discussed the year 1922 - when Beach published James Joyce's Ulysses. 1922 is also the year when Ernest Hemingway had to rewrite his entire short story collection. We talked about literary Americans Janet Flanner (writer for the New Yorker), Gertrude Stein & her partner Alice B. Toklas, and F. Scott Fitzgerald - all friends of Beach. We also talked about literary France - the Maison des Amis du Livre, run by Adrienne Monnier just across rue de l'Odeon from Beach's bookshop. 

Oct 16: The Art of Paris - We talked about 7 works of art: "Le dessert de gauffres" c.1630 by Lubin Baugin (in the Louvre); "Self-portrait" 1789 by Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun (in the Louvre); "The Raft of the Medusa" 1818 by Theodore Gericault (in the Louvre); "Gare Saint-Lazare" 1877 by Claude Monet (in the Orsay); "La Danse au Moulin-Rouge" 1895 by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (in the Orsay); "Guernica" 1937 by Pablo Picasso (in Madrid, though it was painted in Picasso's studio in Paris, on the rue des Grands Augustins; we saw several photographs taken by Dora Maar); and "Stravinsky Fountain" 1983 by Niki de Saint-Phalle & Jean Tinguely (located beside the Pompidou.) We also mentioned two paintings by Gustave Caillebotte (Rainy Day in Paris & The Floor-Planers - the latter is in the Orsay, right beside the Monet train station.) And we discussed several people painted by Toulouse-Lautrec, including Raphael Padilla, Jane Avril, and La Goulue. 

Oct 23: The War of Paris - We focused on two different periods, beginning in the 19th Century with a series of revolts in Paris...1830, 1848, and finally the 1870 Siege of Paris (where the city was surrounded by the Prussians & citizens were reduced to eating rats!) We took a look at Delacroix's famous painting, LIBERTY LEADING THE PEOPLE. Some of the important figures of the era include Louise Michel, the "Red She-Wolf" of Montmartre, and the writer George Sand. The Paris Commune of 1871 didn't last long, but its societal impact lingered into the 20th century. And it's fascinating to look at the burst of science, art, and inspiration which followed: after the bloodthirsty Commune, Paris glowed with life, World Fairs, and of course, the magnificent paintings of the Impressionists! In the second half of our talk, we discussed the 1960s. First, we looked at the Algerian war and the terrible repression of innocent Paris demonstrators, Oct 17, 1961. Police murdered, beat, and drowned protestors, resulting in at least 200 deaths. About 11,000 people were arrested in Paris that day, just for demonstrating. Writer Simone de Beauvoir was one of the few to voice her horror at the police action. The Paris Chief of Police at the time was Maurice Papon, who later stood trial for his collaboration in the Holocaust. We mentioned novels by Albert Camus, a Frenchman born in Algeria, & by Kamel Daoud, an Algerian journalist who writes in French. And then we looked at the famous student riots of May, 1968. The protests that shook the core of Paris have had continuing impact on politics since that famous moment when students, workers, and philosophers of Paris all took to the streets...

Oct 30: The Now of Paris - We went on a stroll from my local cafe in the 18th, up near the Puces de Saint-Ouen, and wandered down into the heart of the city. En route, we stopped to talk about my local Iranian bookshop (and the fascinating Parisian playwright Yasmina Reza), the refugee crisis, the plague of airbnb, and the city's wonderful markets. We paused respectfully in PLACE DE LA REPUBLIQUE and put the terrorist threat of the past few years into perspective of Parisian history. We walked through the Marais, where we admired the wonderful 17th-century buildings. I talked about King Henri IV and his financial advistor, the Duc de Sully (whose mansion, the Hotel de Sully, is still magnificent--visit the bookshop there if you can read French!) I quoted Georges Simenon, the prolific mystery writer who had an affair with the brilliant American performer & Resistance spy, Josephine Baker. We finished up on ILE DE LA CITE, at the Cafe des Deux Palais. I like to stop for coffee there at the counter, gazing out at Anne of Kiev's old medieval palace, and thinking of all the Parisians who have walked past here, over the centuries...

READING LIST (books I like, or have mentioned in this series)

A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas - Gertrude Stein

The Selected Letters of Mme de Sevigne 

La Princesse de Cleves - Mme de Lafayette

The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

if you're interested in Alexandre Dumas & his father, read the excellent biography The Black Count by Tom Reiss.

Cheri - Colette (really, anything by Colette, but this is her masterpiece)

Paris Was Yesterday (memoir/writings from the New Yorker) - Janet Flanner

and... for reliable recipes & cooking that really is inspired by Parisian market produce, check out David Lebovitz's food site/blog

Improbable Walks - Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Halifax

Rivers tell stories. Paths of travel and connection. Forces of destruction and rebirth. Listen. What do we hear? Come walk into a site-specific story inspired by these particular places...

On October 7,  join poets Lisa Pasold & Ariel Gordon on a walk along the Assiniboine River. 

On October 21, join poets Mari-Lou Rowley & Lisa Pasold on a walk along the Saskatoon River. 

On October 28, join writers Nanci Lee, Gwen Davies & Lisa Pasold on a walk through the Commons.

WINNIPEG - Saturday, October 7, 15h – 16h30 - Meet at Bridge Motors Parking Lot, 20 Maryland Street

SASKATOON -Saturday, October 21, 15h - 16h30 - Meet at the parking lot beyond the entrance to Gabriel Dumont Park (715 Saskatchewan Crescent W)

Halifax - Saturday, October 28, 17h - 18h30 - meeting place tba

Cost: Free, but limited number of spaces available. Please register at

The walks go forward whatever the weather and last approximately 80 minutes.

Ariel Gordon is a Winnipeg writer. Her second book, Stowaways (Palimpsest Press, 2014), won the 2015 Lansdowne Prize for Poetry. She is currently writing creative non-fiction about Winnipeg’s urban forest, slated for publication in 2018 with Wolsak & Wynn, and co-editing an anthology of menstruation-lit with Tanis MacDonald and Rosanna Deerchild, due out with Frontenac House in 2018.

Mari-Lou Rowley is an eco-science poet and interdisciplinary adventurer. She has encountered a timber wolf, come between a black bear and her cub, interviewed an Italian astronaut, found over 44 four-leaf clovers, and published nine collections of poetry. Her most recent books are Unus Mundus (Anvil Press 2013) and Transforium (JackPine Press 2012) in collaboration with visual artist Tammy Lu. She is currently finishing a PhD in social media, neuro-phenomenology and empathy at the University of Saskatchewan.

Lisa Pasold has created site-specific walking stories in cities such as New Orleans, Paris, Saskatoon and Toronto. Her storytelling practice is an experience of place with the audience: moving through a landscape or walking down a street, to imagine together possible histories and lives of the specific place and its community. Lisa’s Any Bright Horse (Frontenac House, 2012), was shortlisted for the 2012 Governor General’s Award. Frontenac has just published her new book, The Riparian, “a love story and thirty tragedies, overheard on a piano dismantled, marooned, with the river washing through its exposed strings.”

The Riparian is nearly here

My new book, The Riparian, is coming back from the printers... I am incredibly pleased with the cover--check it out below. The photograph & design are by Neil Petrunia. I can't wait to see it as a real solid book! I have never been very good at patience.

The book will be launched as part of the 2017 Frontenac House Quartet--I'm especially honoured to be reading in the company of writers Billy-Ray Belcourt, Vivian Hansen and Laurie MacFayden. Order a copy of the book here!

In Calgary on Sept 19 at the MEMORIAL PUBLIC LIBRARY (upstairs in the WordFest Space) at 7pm

And for people in Edmonton, we'll be launching the Quartet on Sept 20, at 7pm at Almanac on Whyte.

 "The Riparian is a dangerous shimmering chimeric space where “Things broken wash up.” “Did you expect,” a bartender asks, “a constant party here in the drowned city of the joyful damned?” Pasold strikes a meticulous balance between the hideous and the sublime: suddenly – among water rats, spit, semen, pubic hair, hurt dogs, and missing persons – there is  a sparrow, or a drag queen in a 70s movie poster rock star candy wig. This is a Trump-era epic, an x-ray of a city’s grit, shit,  and sorrow. It is a song with a love story and thirty tragedies, overheard on a piano “dismantled, marooned, / With the  river washing through its exposed strings.” ~ John Wall Barger, author of The Book of Festus.

Learning from Paris

I'm spending the summer in Paris, soaking up inspiration for my Curious Minds Morning Speaker series, "Learning from Paris", presented by Hotdocs in Toronto this fall. I'll be discussing what we can learn from 1,000 years of Paris art, food, and revolution.

The series starts September 18, at the excellently-renovated Hotdocs cinema on Bloor--which gives me an excuse to include some brief clips from my favourite Paris films (including a few minutes of "Paris Blues", where Sidney Poitier & Paul Newman stroll through the great Belly of Paris, Les Halles, in 1961.) For more info or to sign up for "Learning from Paris", click here.


Poem Reel #4

This is the fourth video in my Poem Reel series: each short video is a friend reading work in the world. This is Virginie Poitrasson reading an extract from "Le pas-comme-si des choses", in Paris.

Virginie Poitrasson, born in 1975, is a French writer, performer and translator. Published works: Il faut toujours garder en tête une formule magique (éditions de l’Attente, 2012), Journal d’une disparition (Ink #1, 2010), Nous sommes des dispositifs (La camera verde, 2009), Tendre les liens (, 2009), Demi-valeurs (éditions de l’Attente, 2008), Série ombragée (Propos2 éditions, 2006), Épisodes de la lueur (L'Atelier du Hanneton, 2004). Translations: First figure, Michael Palmer, with Éric Suchère (José Corti, 2011), Slowly, Lyn Hejinian (Format Américain, 2006). 


Improbable Walks this month

I am so glad the weather is improving in northern France! The sun has been shining for days... which is always inspiring for outdoor storytelling. My improbable walks are creative explorations--a fictional invention that takes you into a story I've written especially for a particular neighbourhood.

On Monday, April 24th at 18h30, I'll be leading a story telling walk in French near the Opera Garnier.  We'll focus on one amazing moment in August, 1869. 

Exceptionally, this story is free by donation. Join me for a drink at the end of the walk.

And I'll be in Reims the last weekend of April, doing a one-time-only walk (also in French) in the amazingly historic city of champagne. For either of these walks, please send me an email if you're interested in joining me... 

Mes promenades, et ma pratique de narration, sont des expériences non-touristiques: On se déplace dans une rue, ou dans un lieu, et nous imaginons ensemble une histoire et une vie. Mon récit, "Une bouteille d'encre noire", est une fiction créé spécialement pour cette promenade. Après notre promenade, dans un café, autour d'un pot amicale, nous discuterons les vrais détails historiques.

Le 24 avril, avec "Une bouteille d'encre noire," on commence dans une nuit de 1869...


Poem Reel # 3 - "Radial" by Jennifer K Dick

This is the third video in my Poem Reel series: each short video is a poet friend reading work out in the world. This is "Radial" by Jennifer K. Dick. She is reading in Paris. 

Jennifer is originally from Iowa and now teaches in Mulhouse, France. She is the author of Fluorescence (University of Georgia Press, 2004), Retina/Rétine (Estepa Editions, France, 2005—artist book with images by Kate Van Houten, translations by Rémi Bouthonnier), Enclosures (BlazeVox ebook, 2007), Betwixt (Corrput Press chapbook, 2012), Tracery (Dusie Kollectif, 2012), Circuits (Corrupt Press, 2013), Conversion (Estepa editions, 2013) et No Title (Estepa Editions, 2015). She co-hosts the IVY Writers series in Paris. Jennifer keeps a personal blog at

Onwards to Belarus!

One hundred years since the Russian Revolution...

I'm curious if there will be centennial celebrations in Belarus. I'm just getting my paperwork set for a brief trip to Minsk & Mogilev. I'll be looking for a good coffeehouse, of course, if you have any recommendations? And I hear rumours of Armenian brandy there, too. Excellent! Ну, давайте выпьем!


APAP 2017

Planning... In January, I'm going to be at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters' conference in NYC. I'll be promoting '33 (a kabarett) - a show that's recently become very topical, since '33 is about choosing to speak out against repression.

More info here.


RSS feed