'the blossoms are out along Giles Blvd& temporarily bright in the midlines today/ almost too bright but i like the candle of it anyways& so i will consider it my blazon& follow the course/ put it all together into one force if i can take it& i am never sure that i can you know? last week i went& heard poetry humming in a place covered in carbon/ somewhere on East Grand& where there was a huge fire once& it’s now in the walls/ it’s now in the walls as they ricochet poems to the best of their ability& let’s face it they mostly absorb/ it leaves me no choice but to burn our port sweetheart& so i fiddle for the matches in my bag'
Palimpsest Press 2019
THICKET FALL 2019
“In a sense the gorgeous mutant child of Jenny Holzer and Ken Babstock, given its power-blocks, loaded with neologisms and linguistic triple-axels, yet wholly hers—Janisse-Barlow’s Thicket is a thrillingly original and word-perfect satellite containing masses of tight images—immaculate goosenecks, glitter, snails, stone lions and dogshit—it is a colony of rage, rescue, love and humbling
grace.” - Lynn Crosbie
ORIOLES IN THE ORANGES 2009
In this brutally honest debut collection, Melanie Janisse crafts a slow-boiling Southern Ontario thunder, an emotional migratory path from the delicate swamps of Pelee Island to the vast mud flats of East Vancouver and the hardened, concrete points in between. Janisse's clean and powerful language dredges Lac du Chats for all that's been lost, suggests that home is not a house, nor a people, landscapes that envelope us and call us back over and over again.
DEDICATION POEM 1
for Houdini and Frida, in their hospital rooms. Detroit.
the boats are stacked
where the men
for the lost ladies
on that bitch of a river:
safety at sea
requires a beacon.
she came to him in a nightgown under the ice
but didn’t pay a visit in room 401 the day his appendix blew
baby snails in the orchids are
the brightest brushlight
IN THE REALM OF THE PHEASANTS
I remember one early morning on Brush Street in Detroit in the early nineties, a whole flock of pheasants exploded out of the long grass as my car passed by. They were disturbed by two ambulance attendants standing in the middle of the field. It happened so quickly, the sun dead centre in my eyes, the birds blotting out aspects of my view in tiny, peppered movements, the ambulance lights flickering along in unison for a moment, making for a light show so beautiful and horrible that I didn’t know what feelings to have.
TOO, TOO SOLID FLESH: AN INTERVIEW-COLLAGE WITH JUDITH SUPINE
I find Judith’s clocks and am comforted by their fragile whimsy. They are tiny, but explosive. Supine authors a powerful myth out of three simple images strung together by chain. They tell me close, insular stories that stave away my anxiety. A Scorpio with a blade. A car with its front end crashed in. Each image is meticulously cut out and connected with old chain in a variety of golds and silvers. The chain that suspends the crashed car still has its barbell price tag on it: ten dollars. It too, becomes part of the fragments that make up this story. I find the crashed car more vulnerable under the faded tag, as if the driver of the car wound up in the hospital with a crumpled ten spot lodged in his pants pocket. His last ten dollars, even. His vanity plate would say: PENNYLE55.
NON FICTION WORK
KALINKA, HOTDOGS AND PATTI SMITH
Andrew wields our rusty “bug eyed” Benz along the 401. It is already dark as we hit the outskirts of the city. Toronto is a collection of tiny lights in the distance, obscured and then revealed as flurries of snowflakes pass along the windshield. We have just left the salt heap that we come from, shuttered our house on the fringes of Hiram Walker’s old estates.
KALINKA: THE FRUITS OF DESIRE
At the beginning of my youth, I made myself homeless. I was an unreliable narrator in the face of the little wartime houses that surrounded me. I could feel the neat homes lying to me, pretending, asking me to answer to them like a mirror. There was not a single thing that I could say, but inside, I kept asking myself what else there was. When I asked, the houses stared at me blankly.
KALINKA: PARKING LOT ROMANCE
A long time ago, there was a parking garage in Detroit where we used to go to drink beer. It was built in the middle of on old theatre and it wasn’t until you were at the top, and you could see the domed plaster ceilings, that you understood that the whole damn thing was built in the ruin of something else. If you looked over the edge, you could see the stage framed still by its crumbling velvet curtains.
KALINKA: FUCKING COLD TORONTO
My luggage and its little wheels tumble along the cobblestones like a drunken asshole. I am a collection of activities. Firstly, I lean fiercely into the wind, prying a few steps out of the walk, until the wind or the wobbling luggage knock my top bags off and I am forced to stop and remount the whole operation all over again, each time more furious. My knees buckle as I wait for the light at this sprawling, shelterless intersection.
KALINKA: FERRIES AND FROZEN WATERS
The ferry crushes through the ice. The ice folds and bends in the wake of the prow. The boat’s movement wails and twists as it labours across the harbour. I can barely see the ice below – just the outline of its shapes as it breaks. The pieces are shadowy, spewing out of the boat’s way like broken teeth. My eyes are riveted out the window, watching as the boat groans and yearns, fighting to make it across the inky inner harbour. I feel as though I might have come to stay somewhere in the Arctic.
KALINKA: THE ROCK AND ROLL IN MY HEAD
I had a cousin that had short spiky hair and carried around an old lunch box like a purse. She would lend me tapes of the Velvet Underground, Roxy Music, the Buzzcocks. I would sit on her porch, smoking cigarettes trying to understand this foreign world that I had discovered, trying to make sense of the losses that had accumulated to get me here.
I had woken to a totally different sun.
KALINKA: THE PERFECT ESPRESSO FOR ETHEREAL DREAMING
I use both of our pillows to prop myself up between the rails of the bed frame, staying deeply wrapped in the covers, warmed by his rough gestures of love and care. Andrew comes out of the bathroom when the espresso machine starts to percolate and begins the task of pouring coffee equally between our cups, whitening it with almond milk. Learning how to inhabit the space of that morning coffee took me a long time.
KALINKA: SNOW TRAILS AND OPIUM MUSINGS
The first time I got high, I smoked opium. Why start small? The houses get saggier the closer you get to downtown. We walked up the steel fire escape and through a battered door that opened into a small living room with a low grey couch—stained, of course. In the back of the room was a brown veneered dinette with chrome seats upholstered in a shit brown vinyl. It was Steve’s uncle’s place. It was the first time that we had come here together.
KALINKA: SHE’S AN AGING BEAUTY. SHE’S HOME.
What is a revolution? Is it a boat?
She is mahogany. There is something about her old wood that yearns for our hands. She wants us to give ourselves over to her material. She begs us to love and respect ourselves and to reflect that in the ways we use our hands, now that we have met. The worn, blue tarp flaps in the cold February wind, begging us to unwrap her. She is a lopsided present. She is a new pair of glasses.
KALINKA: GOING NOWHERE ON A BOAT
At some point, Leandro had obviously given up on actually getting the boat out of the yard, as he had built a thin, two-storey lean that attached to the starboard side. He had fashioned himself a kitchen in there, where he made the most majestic Italian food. The small window was strung with garlands of fresh herbs and copper pots.
KALINKA: FISHERMEN, HOOKAH AND HAZE
The chaos of Detroit breaks in on occasion to the uptight logic of Toronto. It is interesting to me how these two places hold hands through water, but that one is thick and humid, the shores lined with fishermen and hookah smokers and haze, while the other is ice and metal, with throngs of joggers jockeying with each other on her shores, making their way between the water and the grey high-rises that pop in droves, blocking the sun, chasing ultimate health, reaching.
KALINKA: CLAIMING OUR KINDRED BOAT
I close the door to Carol’s bathroom hearing the throng of my heartbeat. It is drumming in my throat, and the back of my neck is throbbing and tender. I am overwhelmed. The wallpaper is metallic gold, peppered with peacocks. I remember the brood of peacocks calmly wandering the grounds of the Fisher Mansion, my friends and I walking through their fold while the Krishnas stand at the door, waiting to greet us and our hungry bellies.