Lola Lemire Tostevin
Working for decades in English and French in poetry, novels, and translations that investigate the relationship between language and female subjectivity, Lola Lemire Tostevin has hewn her own unique and intensely aesthetic path across the national literary landscape, earning her the reputation as one of Canada’s leading feminist writers.
Tostevin’s latest offering of poetry emerges from her deep-seated interest in the creativity of women who face advanced age and its ailments. Through study of exhibitions in galleries and museums, films and dance performances, and voluminous “bodies” of text, it became clear to Tostevin that aging not only serves women’s creativity but also reinforces it, revealing many forms of strength in vulnerability.
Singed Wings invites the reader to peer into the interior world of Camille Claudel, whose intimate understanding of her subjects, from young girl to old woman, captured quite a different power than that of her lover, sculptor Auguste Rodin. Although Claudel was not able to fully realize her creative process into old age, many others did, including Louise Bourgeois, Frida Kahlo, Betty Goodwin, Pina Bausch, and Agnès Varda, and it is in direct response to the vital creativity of these women that the poet finds the inspiration and determination to move her own art forward.
Spurred on by these groundbreaking precedents that displace the narcissistic, “shopworn” notion of the ideal woman described only in terms of desired female form, Tostevin allocates space where a writer facing her own aging process can use the experience to give it new shapes in language, positing that reimagining the various creative forms of women into language is a postmodern undertaking in an artistic milieu where postmodernism may turn out to have as many heads as the mythical Hydra.