A Painted Elephant tells a tale of love – unrequited, of course, like all the best stories. Our Juliet? A lonely Indian elephant, newly arrived at the Calgary Zoo from Holland, with a penchant for moonlight escapes. Her Romeo? The wooden Maytag Man statue on Calgary's 9th Street, with his sad eyes, his oaken thighs, his aloofness. Punished for her romantic escapades, our heroine is made to suffer a thirty-day quarantine during which she meditates on the true meaning of elephantine love. And finally, when she emerges from her solitary confinement – well, the outcome is as tragic as it is inspiring.
This book, the first from Jill Hartman, is a tragi-comic narrative poem about pachyderm passion. Nina Simone, Pig Latin, German opera and a chorus of Canadian poets play in the background. Incense, speculaas cookies and cheap flowers scent the air. And goddesses, myrmidons and shipwrecks appear with some frequency.
With fractured, playful language, the smart and funny A Painted Elephant trumpets an important new voice in Canadian poetry.
Calgary born-and-bred poet Jill Hartman writes disjunctive narrative poetry about pachyderms, pirates, belly dancing, Ouija, Scrabble, and The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. She’s presented and performed her poetry across Canada and as far afield as Scotland and her writing’s appeared in Queen Street Quarterly, filling Station, endnote, and DIAGRAM, in the anthologies Post-Prairie (Talonbooks) and Shift & Switch (Mercury), and in chapbooks from MODL Press, housepress, Olive Press, and her own chapbook series semi-precious press. Her first book of poetry, A Painted Elephant, (Coach House 2003) was shortlisted for both the Stephansson and Lampert Awards, and was featured on the program “Heart of a Poet,” which you can find on BOOK TV and BRAVO.