Saint-lazare writer publishes first book
A unique story told in prose and verse
How to be a hangman
Louise Carson has been writing poetry full time for the past five years but her first book, published last fall, is a story combining prose and verse.
Rope (Broken Rules Press, 2011) tells the story of Deasil Widdy, a child who made his entrance into the world at the exact time that his mother was being hanged for an undisclosed reason.
Carson was inspired to write Rope while randomly perusing the dictionary and researching word meanings and origins, something she often likes to do.
"The name for the title character just popped up," Carson said, explaining her initial intention was to simply write a poem about the character.
"But there was so much more to those two words, a lot of back story (I had to tell,)" she noted.
Thus the idea for a book was born.
Carson said the story took over her life for close to a year, much of which was devoted to researching her topic.
The writing of the actual consumed her for close to a month.
Rope is set in the early 1700s in the real-life borderlands between Scotland and England.
In the Merriam-webster dictionary Deasil, derived from the Scottish Gaelic
story deiseil, itself derived from middle Irish dessel, means to turn clockwise, or turn to the right. Widdy, of Scottish and dialect English descent, is a hangman’s noose.
An apt name for a child born as his mother swung clockwise from a hangman’s noose.
And one given to him by the town hangman, who takes the orphan in and teaches the boy the trade.
Carson often injects such in-depth knowledge of a word’s origins into her tale, rendering it a book to be reckoned with and one brimming with delightful double and triple entendre.
A treat for wordsmiths, to be sure.
In one passage, when a young Deasil (12, or 13-years-old) learns his guardian, the hangman, has himself been hanged, the boy remarks: 'I have noticed that after the rope turns deasil, it turns the other way for an equal number of turns. It turns tuathal, against the sun, then deasil again and so on until the body is still.'
The book explains in pragmatic terms the realities inherent in performing the hangman’s' job: 'the customer stands on a stool, if a woman, or a ladder, if a man, with widdy round the neck.'
The hangman, it says, usually gives the body a push to the right as it first falls, for to turn to the left, tuathal, 'is to go to the Devil, or to be changed into something else.'
Carson says though she wrote Rope in a short amount of time, the bulk of her time was spent on research.
"I had to research how to properly hang someone the 18th century way," she commented.
And while some early readers of the book have called it "heavy" or "dark," Carson wonders if they read the story through to the end.
"I had (the main character) in a bad situation but he asked to come out of it. I did redeem him," she explained.
Rope is a 49-page tomb comprised of short chapters, usually one or two pages, interspersed with Carson’s own poems.
The book is printed on a hearty manila coloured card-stock-type paper in a font common to mid 17th century English printing.
It’s illustrated with copies of such things as woodcut depictions from the era.
Combined, the story and images weave a highly readable – and informative – book filled with subtle and unexpected humour, the aforementioned double entendre, and hints of magic and lore.
Carson, a member of the Greenwood Poet’s Society and various other writing groups in the region, lives in Saint-lazare with her teenage daughter and their dogs.
She dedicated the book to the 'librarians of Bibliothèque de Saint-lazare and the Hudson War Memorial Library.'
Rope is available through Broken Rules Press in Sainte-anne-de-bellevue, at The Word book store in Montreal, as well as Paragraphe book store in Montreal. It can also be purchased by contacting Carson at email@example.com.
Saint-lazare writer Louise Carson recently published her first book,