Spotlight series #37 : Conyer Clayton

Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.


“Caricature” began with a reflection on classic cartoon imagery — the darkness of it, the violence, the sexism, both underlying and blatant. I wanted to reimagine and reframe some of these ingrained images. This poem is my attempt to use those images to reflect the real lived experiences of women being pursued and harmed by men, this harm being consumed as comedic material by society at large, and the resulting psychological impact.


A small mountain rose from the lava of my innards. A troop of identical men grappled my heights with hooks and yodelled.

I splattered myself onto a wall wet with paint. The road seemed endless. I broke my nose on brick.

I ran off the edge of a cliff chasing something I’ve always chased without knowing why.

A man spat on my face. I joked to ease the tension. I giggled and shrugged so I didn’t have to say no.

I was pursued. His body against mine. Someone pressed play on the laugh track.

I became the smallest version of myself, stuck in a thimble, between two lips.

As my heart rate rose, I crashed my car on purpose. We spring back like accordions.

I sprinted ahead of other characters, arriving at my destination like a snapping board, brain pin-balled in my skull.

A cloud left a paper cutout in the sky.

The moon rose and understood

I am tired of light.

The sun abandoned its path to remain strictly over my head.

I walked on my shadow for 12 straight hours.

When I bent to pick my shadow up, it was coarse, black sand.

I see my face reflected over and over and over in the darkened shards of glass.

Conyer Clayton is an Ottawa based artist who aims to live with compassion, gratitude, and awe. Her most recent chapbooks are:Trust Only the Beasts in the Water (forthcoming with above/ground press, 2019), Undergrowth (bird, buried press), Mitosis (In/Words Magazine and Press), and For the Birds. For the Humans. (battleaxe press). She released a collaborative album with Nathanael Larochette, If the river stood still, in August 2018. Her work appears in ARC, Prairie Fire, The Fiddlehead, The Maynard, Puddles of Sky Press, TRAIN, post ghost press, and others. She won Arc’s 2017 Diana Brebner Prize, 3rd place in Prairie Fire’s 2017 Poetry Contest, honourable mention in The Fiddlehead’s 2018 poetry prize, and was long-listed for Vallum’s 2018 Poem of the Year. She is a member of the sound poetry ensemble Quatuor Gualuor, and writes reviews for Canthius. Her debut full length collection of poetryis forthcoming in Spring 2020. Check out for updates on her endeavours.



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