By Evelyn Lau
Set against a backdrop of shifting weather and a blasted, mysterious landscape, Cactus Gardens explores the complexity and intensity of personal relationships. The narrator drifts through a variety of locales, from a hospital ward to a lakefront hotel, a downtown condo, and restaurant patios, depicting friendships that are as meaningful and volatile as romantic entanglements.
The final section deals with the fallout of a disastrous relationship the author had with a much older, established writer. After publishing an essay about their relationship, Lau was filed with a lawsuit and subjected to intense media scrutiny, resulting in years of self-doubt and a complete retreat from prose writing. After feeling muzzled for years, she returned to the craft of poetry. When the writer died, she was finally able to re-examine and write about their complicated relationship, excavating its tangle of memories and emotions. Those poems now form the final section of this book, The Salton Sea.
Cactus Gardens is Evelyn Lau’s ninth collection of poetry.
Praise for Cactus Gardens:
“Cactus Gardens is the latest collection by award-winning author and former Vancouver poet laureate Evelyn Lau. Furthering her work of the last decade, the book is a testament to the craft inherent to confessional poetry and confirms Lau as a master of the genre. … Cactus Gardens should be welcomed as the crowning achievement of more than a decade’s impressive output.”
— Quill & Quire
Evelyn Lau is a lifelong Vancouverite who has authored fourteen books, including nine volumes of poetry. Her memoir Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid (HarperCollins, 1989), published when she was eighteen, was made into a CBC movie starring Sandra Oh in her first major role. Evelyn’s prose books have been translated into a dozen languages; her poetry has received the Milton Acorn People’s Poet Award, the Pat Lowther Award for best book of poetry by a Canadian woman, and a National Magazine Award, as well as nominations for a BC Book Prize and the Governor-General’s Award. Her poems have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies, including the Best Canadian Poetry series. From 2011-2014, Evelyn served as Poet Laureate for the City of Vancouver.