$18.95 CDN / $17.95 US | Trade Paperback
Everyone has a dog story, from the salesman at Home Depot to the passenger on a plane who confesses about the scar on his face. The poems in Mahoney’s third collection explore the concepts of identity and ownership through rich linguistic textures and voices. From a boy’s fascination with Tom Terrific and Mighty Manfred to uniquely imagined Biblical dogs, Off Leash delves into the anguish of dogs loved and lost, and the joy of homecoming.
Oh boy it is ever wonderful when a friend has a success to celebrate! I’m pleased to share the news that the lovely Dorothy Mahoney will be launching her new book of poetry ‘Off-Leash’ (Palimpsest Press). I asked her if she would answer some questions about her poetic-canine journey for my blog – and she said yes! Yahoo! Or…woof! Woof! Sneeze! (Dog’s sneeze when they’re really happy.)
Before we get to it, let’s get the important launch date information out.
The book launch for Off-Leash is Wed. March 23 at Biblioasis at 7:00. There will be some dog surprises. Mark Sampson will also be launching his poems on climate change, entitled ‘Weathervane’.
If you’d like to order the books before the launch, they are available for pre-order. Otherwise, please have cash/debit on-hand at the launch so you can buy the books there – and get them signed.
Here’s a link to the Facebook event page if you’d like to share that you’re going…and/or show your support via social media.
Enjoy our interview!
Tell me about how the idea for the book was born.
The book began with poems about our new sheepdog pup, Manfred, in the summer of 2004. It was meant to chronicle what was going on during that Dog Summer, which was the working title.
Did you write the poetry before you had a publisher?
I wrote them as a gift for my husband who had wanted a sheepdog his whole life. I didn’t have a publisher.
What was the editing and revising process like? (Do you enjoy this part? Why or why not?)
The book kept evolving as people shared their dog stories. I starting looking at dogs in paintings, in history, in movies…then I created imaginary dogs for biblical characters. It was on-going. After reading about Wattpad, a writing site that Margaret Atwood had joined, I took on their challenge of ten different types of poetry. I started revising some of the old pieces. Then there were other sheepdogs, we are on our third now. I started writing drabbles, one hundred word stories, because of your earlier blog challenge, Vanessa! Then I turned them into haibun, by adding haiku. I was teaching Writer’s Craft to senior high school students and I wrote with them and used some pieces as writing prompts. I did enjoy the revising. It was like building with clay, then pounding it down and making something new with the old. Then I was lucky to have Dawn Kresan as an editor, she said, enough dead dog poems! Add a few more happy! She was a great sounding board.
Did you read your poetry out loud to your dog?
Ha ha. I think of Billy Collins who said he writes haiku when he walks his dog. I do the same. And yes, the dog is often sleeping near the computer desk while I am writing, so I do read lines aloud whether she pretends to hear them or not! Do you find you do the same with your adorable Oscar?
My answer: Oscar is always near me when I’m home and writing. He’ll lay on my feet under the table. Often, he’ll jam his nose under my palm as I’m typing because he wants me to pet him. It’s maddening and hilarious. I know he listens and feels my energy. Dogs are so attuned that way!
Do you think writing about pets is universal theme?
Sure. In that it is about life, death, love, betrayal, survival, and, especially, unconditional love.
How did you decide the title?
Actually my husband thought of the title. He’s quick like that. I was agonizing one night over wordy titles like, “A good dog stays” and “Testament of Dogs” and he said, matter-of-factly, “What about Off-Leash?” I loved it.
Do you have a favourite poem? Why? (Or why not?)
I have a few favourites, but the one I have read most often at readings is “Dog of Eden” and it’s a dog summary, an imaginary fall from grace, through no fault of the dogs.
How many pets have you had? All dogs?
I used to be a ‘cat-person.” I’ve lived with cats most of my life, we also had birds, fish, rabbits, and a few smaller dogs when I was young.
How long have you been writing poetry?
I’ve been writing since I was in grade school.
What do you think the role of the poet is in today’s world?
The poet’s role is to make you think, make you feel. It’s Kafka’s ‘axe for the frozen sea within us.’
What is your ultimate dream success for your writing/poetry?
It was a gift that outlasted the original reason. That some stranger somewhere will read it and enjoy it, and return to it again.
Thank you Dorothy! I can’t wait to hear you read at the launch! I know there are many dog lovers out there so come on out and enjoy what poetry can do for your pooches and your heart!