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Any Bright Horse




When Marco Polo was captured by the Genoese he whiled away his year in prison by dictating a memoir, the Livre des Merveilles. Polo’s Book of Wonders became a raging best seller before printing presses even existed–Christopher Columbus travelled with his own carefully-annotated copy. Poet Lisa Pasold takes Polo’s stories about Afghanistan, Russia, and China to speculate on the transformative effect of journeys, especially upon those who insist on finding marvels.

Any Bright Horse, Lisa Pasold, Poetry, ISBN 978-1-897181-55-3 112 pages, Paperback, 6″ x 9″, $15.95

Lisa Pasold’s first book of poetry, Weave, was hailed as a masterpiece by Geist magazine. Her second book of poetry, A Bad Year for Journalists, was nominated for an Alberta Book Award. Her 2009 novel, Rats of Las Vegas, was described as “enticing as the lit-up Las Vegas strip and as satisfying as a winning hand at poker” by the Winnipeg Free Press. Lisa has taught creative writing at the American University in Paris and led writing workshops in places such as Dawson City, Yukon, and Winter Park, Florida. Lisa grew up in Montreal, which gave her the necessary jaywalking skills to survive as a poet and travel writer. While working as a journalist, Lisa has been thrown off a train in Belarus, mushed huskies in the Yukon, and been cheated in the Venetian gambling halls of Ca’ Vendramin Calergi. Her latest book of poetry, Any Bright Horse, was published by Frontenac House in spring 2012.

If Christopher Columbus hadn’t owned & carefully read Marco Polo’s Livre de Merveilles

If Marco Polo had never travelled to meet the Great Khan. If he had never returned.

If in middle-age, he had not felt uneasily sedentary, stifled by the narrow canals of Venice.

If he had not then accepted command of a vessel sailing to triumph against Genoa.

If the naval battle had not been lost.

If Polo had not been held, a prisoner of war, in Genoa.

If he had not been imprisoned alongside a bored writer of Arthurian romances, languishing in a neighbouring cell of Genoa’s Palazzo di San Giorgio Jail.

If this fellow inmate, Rustichello, had not written down the stories Polo recounted.

If they had not collaborated, arguing through their various languages and dialects, until Rustichello penned Polo’s complete narrative in an ungrammatical but highly romantic French.

If this Book of Marvels had not been read rapturously even by priests, had not been recopied and translated variously and finally printed, for wide distribution, in 1477.