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 poetry and found solace in the idea of the strength that arises from trauma. She was finally able to re-examine and write about the 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.
About the author
Evelyn Lau has been publishing poetry and prose since she was thirteen. Now eighteen, she has her poetry appear in Prism International, Queen's Quarterly and Canadian Author and Bookman, among other literary magazines. Her prose has been published in MacLean's, Vancouver Magazine and The Antigonish Review. And she has won six awards for her poetry.
For two years, Evelyn lived on "the streets" in a world of drugs and prostitution recording these experiences in a journal. She left the streets in 1988 at the age of seventeen and extracts from this journal became the best-selling Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid, which stayed on bestseller lists across Canada for months.
Evelyn is now a freelance writer for the Province and the Globe and Mail as well as working on a collection of short stories. She lives in Vancouver.