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Montreal 375

Carolyn Marie Souaid is a poet and author whose first book of fiction, Yasmeen Haddad Loves Joanasi Maqaittik (published by Baraka Books), will be launched in Montreal, Tuesday, October 24 at 7:00 pm at La Vitrola (3rd floor) - 4602 boul. St. Laurent. Be there for the launch, bannock, baklava and throat singing. For more information go to Ms. Souaid's website here.

For more than half a century, the Ruby Foo’s brand has been a Montreal tradition. The restaurant opened in the late 50’s and became the place to see and be seen. Politicians, Broadway stars, movie actors, as well as the business and sporting elite all made Ruby Foo’s an in-spot. It was class personified, fun and lively. But it was also the place for exotic Chinese food: egg rolls, fried wonton, and spare ribs for the hard working man and his family. Carolyn Marie Souaid captures that moment and place in Montreal in her poem.



Here’s the thing: we weren’t rich. Like his old man,

my father just knew how to stretch a buck, nagged us hourly

about the cost of electricity and long-distance calls

so that Sundays, he could blow the bundle on us

at Ruby Foo’s Restaurant

with Uncle Raymond and the gang.

Nothing like a pupu platter and a good cigar, he’d say

having bitten the road all week

with his suitcase of bargains.

Parting the glass doors, he’d grin

like a man who’s struck a deal on shoes for the kids

and we’d clamor in under his frayed sleeve,

bold as bubblegum.

Mum, in Easter-best, would pause a moment in the lobby

to straighten her hatpin, or drag a bright nub of lipstick

around her mouth before shooing us

through the crimson room of tailored men and mobster types

clinking glasses of liquor and ice,

their polished wives

on tufted chairs,


Starstruck, she’d bend my ear like a schoolgirl—

Look, it’s a Bronfman!

or There’s Daniel Johnson, over there.

Now that man was one of the good ones

you ask your father.

By mid-afternoon, our table degenerated—

egg rolls lolling in plum sauce,

Raymond with the coat-check girl,

checking out the hockey game.

Dad nodding off with a cigar in his mouth,

tie askew,

a kind of fallen angel,

life piling up around him

like bills in his pocket,

the yard goods, the road trips, the no-name towns he stomachs

for this— his hard-earned swatch

of heaven.

Forthcoming from Carolyn Marie Souaid

Yasmeen Haddad Loves Joanasi Maqaittik (now available for pre-order: Click here

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