Shawna Lemay scrutinizes some of the best-known art masterpieces of the Western world, alerting her readers to the power and peril of seduction. All the God-sized Fruit melds the sister arts - poetry and painting - in a sensual exploration of history, forgery, and violation. In poems rich with sensory pleasure, Lemay explores the place where image and inspiration meet. 


Winner of the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and the Stephan G. Stephannson Award.

McGill-Queen's University Press, 1999


“There is a searchingness in the imaginative detail of these canvases, and a strong sense of a ruined world gently picked up and turned in the hand, under the eye, the details of chaos transformed into the ink of re-creation.”

-Jeffery Donaldson

“The book is engaging, her voice assured, her critical eye aware of the darker implications behind the suffusing light emanating from the glossy oil on a canvas.”  

- Paulo da Costa

From All the God-Sized Fruit:

By the Still Life Painter's Wife

Did Willem Kalf's wife say
look, i have brought home this nautilus cup
filled with light
from my merchant brother's house.
On it Neptune stands on a fearsome whale head
and below Jonah dives from the monster's jaws.
Or, here is a lemon carefully peeled
the rind a curling ribbon.
And here is a lobster, darling,
i have cleaned all the meat from it
so you may have it in your studio
the brilliant smooth orange-red.

Did Chardin's wife say
i baked this splendid brioche today
and trimmed it with mint leaves
from the plant in the backyard.
I'll leave it for you on the sideboard
by the candy dish, decanter, apples and cherries.
In case you're hungry, dear man.

Did Rembrandt's wife say
the slaughtered ox has been trussed up in the shed
will you go and inspect it, my darling.

And the wives of de Heem and Aertsen, Bosschaert and Brueghel.
Did they
gather flowers in ditches
arrange them on the console
bake fussy confectioneries
and bread just so
barter assiduously at market for exotic fruit
place it carelessly
in unusual china bowls
buy pears with attention
to length and curve of stem
coax juice from wasting fruit
blend the concoction until pink-orange-red
some unnameable colour.