Matinee Light

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Some of these poems appeared previously in CROSS-COUNTRY, Capilano Review, B.C. Monthly, Island, Malahat Review, Rolling Stone and Waves.

My thanks to Eveline Van Ginkel for editorial assistance and continuing support.

Edited for the press by bpNichol
Original cover design by Gordon Robertson

First published in 1983 by Coach House Press

Web design by damian lopes

ISBN 1-55245-982-9

Coach House Books, 1998


In 1988, The Malahat Review featured an interview with Diana Hartog, Paulette Jiles and Sharon Thesen. The following is an excerpt from The Malahat Review #83, summer 1988

The interviewer is Constance Rooke:

DIANA HARTOG: I chose Matinee Light because so many of my images are about movies. I think a lot about movies. I have old stars I follow and I know what they like, I know little things about Elizabeth Taylor [...] she likes, or she used to like, to drink beer straight from the bottle, which I have taken up myself. Little details like that have accumulated in my head, and I think I should use this stuff. But I was also interested in the light, the feeling you have after you've been inside a darkened movie theatre in the afternoon and then emerge to the sidewalk. It's light you have to wait through, with a feeling of guilt.

SHARON THESEN: It's a vice.

DH: Yes, a gentle vice. And then Candy From Strangers is about men. It's about that sexual offering, about accepting rides from a stranger and going off in a car. It's all those scary things that happen to girl-children.

PAULETTE JILES: Aren't there cigarettes called Matinee Lights?

DH: The thing is, I don't smoke. [...]
        To write so that it feels like truth. You put a word down and then another word and then three words, and you have a playground or something - some critical mass. So you follow wherever that leads. [...] And then you've got something. Something that's pulling your brain. The cells in those pictures on television, you just get more and more cells - it starts making its own world and it starts telling you what the truth is. I mean it sounds all reified, and it is. [...]
        I don't really want to write about love too much anymore. And yet I really do now, you know? So I just keep writing about love more and more. A little stretching out to extend to more than just the male population. And then I like the play of words, and I like to make my brain work, and I like to have some unexpected things happen.
        [...] It's hard, though. You come through very, very intense experiences in which you experienced yourself in a certain relationship to power, but you want to retain a grasp on yourself as a whole person, good and bad, when you write. You have to be very rigorous with your mind to do that.
        [...] I think the highest pleasure is to get away from my own mind. To me that's the pleasure.
        [...] [I]t's also like other kinds of work. Carpentry is a very good example. You just go away. To me, that's the utmost pleasure. That's the consistent pleasure. And then there's the pleasure of either the product or the doing, as you were saying.
        [...] I still have my delusions - I still have my days of delusions.
        [...] I like everybody to understand. I like to understand it myself when I re-read it. If I don't understand then I have to re-write. [...] When my daughter was growing up, if she couldn't understand it, I'd still feel disappointed. I wanted her, even when she was small, to understand.