Carol Shillibeer – Surrey Muse


She Writes Stuff
Carol Shillibeer

‘Carol Shillibeer’s writing comes from four basic threads. The first in her fascination with maths and the sciences, the second is her magical and historical training which started in early childhood, the third is her Interior Salish family and our shared cultural ways, and the fourth is her obsession with systemics. In addition to these somewhat disparate threads, Carol’s basic experiences are coloured by her synesthesia and other neurological anomalies. The combination can make her work seem far from the lyric loop of contemporary poetry, which relies on the assumption of a true ‘singular’ self, a ‘true’ calling and the power of traditional narrative to reveal such.

‘Whilst disagreeing vehemently with these assumptions, and accepting that just because they are not true does not mean they are going to dissolve with the magic of research, her solutions as a poet involve reading primarily (modified) lyric work at readings, and writing and publishing under multiple names, including ‘Carol Shillibeer’ – she thinks of this practice as ‘heteronyms for the North American’. She has a book out, for example, under the name Ars Cogitanda which, in most ways, is utterly unlike the work of Pearl Button, Innen BlackStone or Mary Tailfeather or even Carol Shillibeer some of whom you’ll hear from tonight.

‘Having said all this, her fundamental solution to being outside the lyric loop is to have given up the idea of following a ‘traditional’ path as a poet in Canada. Who knows what will happen? What’s true is that she’ll probably be dead before anyone finds out. She considers that a gift. Now she can write what she damn well pleases.

‘Carol’s writing goals include writing faithfully to the various –nyms and fleshing out and writing down her systemics. What she plans to do with the relatively massive amount of work so far produced is to make digital collections and put them up on her site to share. It has come to her attention that just like when she reads tarot for people, she really does prefer a donation-economics. Partly that’s the tribal ethic coming through, partly that’s the magical training, but to a large extent it’s because of her systemics – she believes we need to decide for ourselves what an exchange is worth by deciding what we want to get out of it and give fairly based on that, rather than be told how to value an hour spent.

‘And did I tell you, Carol also has a degree in Anthropology, a Master’s one in Ethnobotany, a couple more in English and the Arts, that she’d love to get a PhD but hasn’t had the time, that she taught university for years, has a couple of grown-up kids, went to boarding school in England, had a loan shark for a grandmother, had a couple of cousins several times removed killed in the London Blitz, is part Jew and part Gypsy and considers it a really lucky break that she wasn’t born before the Second World War, and that she prefers feral weeds to roses.

‘OK. So I’m going to stop now. I want to tell you that it is really hard writing a bio for someone like her. That’s why she usually just says:
Carol Shillibeer lives in East Vancouver. She writes stuff.’

Unlike various gods and godesses, if you ask Carol Shillibeer, you shall be generously rewarded.

More on Carol Shillibeer
Contact Email

At the Mayy 22 gathering of Surrey Muse, Carol will present a selection of her published work. More information on the event:

Surrey Muse Jan-June 2015 Program
More about the meetings
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About Surrey Muse

An interdisciplinary Arts and Literature group that meets Fourth Friday of each month except December. Presents a Guest Author, a Featured Poet, and a Featured Artist/Performer. Discussions. Open Mic. Book Table. Book Signings. Free event. Donations welcome.

One thought on “Carol Shillibeer – Surrey Muse

  1. […] by Carol Shillibeer on her Facebook page, May 11, […]


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