Laundry Lines: A Memoir in Stories and Poems


Coming October 2015, from Inanna Publications.

166EBEA8270746EF8770A39879533CBFBy Ann Elizabeth Carson
Illustrations by Marilyn Walsh
October 2015, Inanna Publications

Why do we remember what we remember?

As Ann Elizabeth Carson looks back at the long laundry line of her life strung with memories, in a rare combination of visceral, sensuous prose and poetry she explores how many Western women lived and were shaped by the 20th century. 

Laundry Lines: Stories and Poems considers the hidden world of women and how they  communicate a rich subterranean world of emotion and knowledge to one another, weaving often unexpressed inner lives into the fabric of their public roles. Lines of laundry are a metaphor for the stories we remember, the tales we select from the past and hang on the line: hung out to dry for all to see and examine. 

In focusing on the moment, Ann Elizabeth’s stories and poems also unravel the complex emotional and often-painful undertow in families: secrets and lies, stories of betrayal – even among trusted sisters – tales  of loss and of enduring love. Over time we see the slow reconciliation with the blows and beauties meted out by life that comes with age, and the healing power of the deep sensual salve offered by surrender to nature. 

Through Carson’s work we grasp how crucial, even life-saving, it can be to tell our stories, not only for our individual survival, but also for the collective endurance of humanity. The stories and poems in Laundry Lines shed light on current personal and world struggles by mapping myths and archetypes over family stories, revealing the shared fabric we all weave on a personal and public level. 

As we plumb the depths of our own wounds and learn more about ourselves, we understand our connections to our beleaguered Earth and become ever more capable of treating her compassionately, and of daring to speak out about what is happening to our home. 




Laundry Life

 Monday morning is coffee smells and pulley squeaks

as my mother hangs clothes on two steel lines, 

strung garden-length;

wooden pegs in a pouch on the line, the next peg

in her mouth – she could even talk around it.

First pinned are sheets and towels, then pants and skirts 

pulled out to dangle over the tomato plants 

at the back of the yard.



Jasmine D’Costa, author, Curry is Thicker Than Water.

Ann Elizabeth Carson travels into her past to understand how she shaped her soul/person. She stumbles upon the various silences in her life: secrets and lies; stories of betrayal—even among beloved sisters; stories of loss and enduring love. She breaks free from the silences that tied her and hangs out her family secrets and cultural taboos to dry in Laundry Lines: A Memoir in Stories and Poems.

Sonia DiPlacido, poet, playwright, artist.

This is one of Canada’s voices, silenced for too long, that lived through the Robertson Davies era; the Morley Callaghan, Dorothy Livesay, Margaret Lawrence, Ethel Wilson and Anne Wilkinson years, now come to life in memoir and poetry. A rare combination of prose and poetry that returns to the experience of how women lived and were shaped by the 20th century. We do not have an array of widely published women poets prior to the 1960s. In Ann Elizabeth Carson’s Laundry Lines: Stories and Poems, we are able to witness how her language translates from one century to another into the new millennium.

Gianna Patriarca, story-teller and poet.

Ann Elizabeth Carson’s new collection, Laundry Lines, stories and poemsis as crisp as linens drying in the Manitoulin sunshine. A born storyteller Ann takes us on an extraordinary jaunt into history and poetry. She paints her experiences with an exquisite memory of places in Ontario from her youth to the present. By the end we have discovered more than her world, we have learned much about ourselves and who we will become. Ann’s writing is wise, compassionate and lyrical. Always in her work there is an enviable clarity and immeasurable strength.

Donna Langevin, poet, playwright.

Looking back at the long laundry line of her life strung with memories Ann Elizabeth Carson’s book of poems and personal essays showcases stories strung juicy deep. Set in Cheltenham, Toronto and Manitoulin Island, Laundry Lines: Stories and Poems firmly rooted in the authors’ ‘mind cellar’ and focused on the moment, is visceral and sensuous, inviting a reader to open the ‘jewelled jars for every season preserved on mind shelves.’ This is the strong insistent voice of an elder who has some answers to offer and is not afraid to ask difficult questions.