Lisa Pasold

The Riparian - available Sept 2017

Open the box at a specific pothole on the levee into which I fall while biking.

The moon slants behind me and I limp into The Rip—that’s the nearest bar. Of course it is.

The dreaded-out bartender looks me up and down and says, So you’re resisting the tyranny of pretty?

I stare at her. I’m unemployed, sweaty and bleeding where I’ve fallen from my bike.

How many wishes d’you need? says the bartender. She has splendidly-coloured tattoos.

I read the painted wooden sign over the cash. I ask the bartender why the bar is called Rip.

Riparian, darling, says the biggest of the drag queens in the bar—

Of or on the riverbank.   Wetland, fenland   mud flat   morass, quagmire.

Her silver eyeshadow gleams. Above her, the ceiling’s missing part of its gilded plaster cornice.

She’s bewigged, cupid-bowed royalty. Let me guess, she says—

You moved here thinking we’d save you. This place never saved anyone. We just pull you down faster.

Maybe that’s what I want.

The bartender brings me a whiskey, says, Don’t kid yourself darlin’.

You’re the kind who keeps on swimming.    

 (excerpt, The Riparian)

From the Frontenac House "Quartet 2017" press release: "In a dive bar by the river, a stranger begins a new life. Lisa Pasold creates a rich novelistic world of finely-crafted encounters in her new collection of poetry, The Riparian. This is a book of tall tales, dreams, and ghost stories, recounted by a wise drunk teetering on the edge of a muddy dock. Pasold blurs prose and poetry, personal experience and local legends. Fashioned from interviews and overheard conversation, The Riparian steps out of the shadows of the bar and into a realm of the pseudo-real where myth entwines with workaday survival in a sinking world.

Rats of Las Vegas - novel

"I cannot recommend the book enough. Poker, boxing, Las Vegas, those Depression-era details captured so well...what's not to love, I tell you? Nothing. It's all good. You ought to buy a copy, or steal one, or get it at the library, or go camp outside Lisa's house and buy a copy from her personally. Really, you should." - Craig Davidson 

"Lisa Pasold’s debut novel is as enticing as the lit-up Las Vegas strip and as satisfying as a winning hand at poker."  -Kathryne Kouk, Winnipeg Free Press

buy RATS  E-book or hard cover,  360 pages 

Published by Enfield & Wizenty, Winnipeg, 2009

note: the fab cover is designed by Relish Productions & was shortlisted for a graphics award. 

"Millard Lacouvy, the first-person narrator and main protagonist of Lisa Pasold's engrossing first one of the feistiest young women in recent Canadian fiction... RATS OF LAS VEGAS is first and foremost a good yarn about a solitary woman asserting herself in a man's world--not through glamour or sex but through sheer wits and determination." - Dave Williamson, Prairie Fire

Any Bright Horse - poetic narrative

Any Bright Horse is published by Frontenac House & was shortlisted for the 2012 Governor General's Award for Poetry.

The Governor General is the Canadian representative of Queen Elizabeth II.The award was established in 1937 and winners include such writers as Margaret Atwood, Mordecai Richler, and Leonard Cohen. So to put it mildly, I was incredibly honoured to be nominated.


Buy Any Bright Horse at Alpine Press--link at bottom of this page


"Pasold acknowledges Don McKay and Daphne Marlatt as influences: both have an affinity for nature imagery and graceful ease in poetically conveying human experiences. Pasold carries on their traditions with distinction, craft and beauty."

QUILL & QUIRE review for Any Bright Horse

and Beth Everest writes in a recent issue of FREEFALL: What intrigues me most about Lisa Pasold’s poetic narrative is the perspective. The book contains six sections, alternating focus between Marco Polo’s journeys and those of a contemporary dancer. But this is what happens: after we are introduced to Marco Polo and his stories, the contemporary narrator wonders “what if my neighbor believes he is Marco Polo”. Once suggested, their stories overlap.

Trade paperback, 110 pages, Frontenac House (Calgary) 2012 $15.95 

ISBN 978-1-897181-55-3


A Bad Year for Journalists - poetry

"Critical, darkly funny and painstakingly lyrical" - The Globe and Mail


"Pasold offers one heck of a wild read." Canadian Bookseller


A Bad Year for Journalists is my second book of poetry; it was nominated for an Alberta Book Award and made into a play, which premiered in Toronto in the fall of 2006.


"As if we're reading notes scribbled by this expatriate freelance writer in a car bouncing along a dirt road in Kenya, or on a late-night intercontinental flight... Pasold's work is the poetic equivalent of living out of a suitcase." - The Toronto Star


order online

Trade paperback, 94 pages from Frontenac House (Calgary) 2006  ISBN 1-897181-01-9


"She weaves disjointed memories, from rusty jeeps to lust to typewriters. A thrilling, amazing work." - Bryan Evans, Fast Forward Magazine

Weave - (poetry)

"Weave is quite simply a masterpiece; there is more in these 80 odd pages than in most novels." - Stephen Osborne, Geist Magazine


WEAVE is my first book, a biography-style collection of poetry that was nominated for an Alberta Book Prize. I didn't win, but I was really excited to be in the running. And the prize-giving party at the Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton was very swank indeed.


"Pasold's ability to capture the personal, the political and societal expectations of an era is impressive." - Rajinder S. Pal, This Magazine 



Trade paperback, 85 pages, Frontenac House (Calgary) 2004


ISBN-10: 0973238070

order online


"The book fascinates on both narrative and lyric levels. Pasold never confuses feeling with sentiment, and she has a gift for memorable images which work together to form a poetic vocabulary. This book's a keeper, one you'll reread and read aloud." - Harry Vandervlist, Alberta Views