Confessions of an Empty Purse

2010 Dektet, Poetry, Quartet, Quartet Archives

By S. McDonald

ISBN # 9781897181331
Author S. McDonald
Pages 96
Size 6 x 9 inches
Binding type Soft Cover
Release Date April 1, 2010
Price CAD$ $15.95

confessions of an empty purse is a poetic transmemoir of passion and fear, laughter, nightmares and dysphoria, preservation, degradation, dreams and pride … and it really happened. I was – am – there.

S. McDonald was born, raised and continues to live in Toronto. Ze grew up in pre-gentrification Cabbagetown and Regent Park. Ze has performed zir alternative spoken word performance pieces at various venues including Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s annual Rhubarb! Festival and Paddy’s Playhouse. Ze is the love child of Christine Jorgensen & John Rechy & the spiritual godchild of Jacqueline Susann.

S. McDonald is one of Canada’s most talented poets. A true performer, McDonald knows how to work a crowd of people whether at the Rhubarb Festival or a park full of passersby… McDonald writes of life experiences straight from the heart. —

~Black Coffee Poet

uniquely splices all of the intricacies of an individual caught between genders, manifesting the depths of transition into one seamless, well manicured confessional. McDonald’s poems are written in an incredible narrative style, filled with semblances of normality, fantasy, and suicidal tendencies.

~Toronto Quarterly

This book is equally comedic and wrathful, satirical and acerbic. The lines seem journalistic, but are vivid and personal: “I saw two transsexuals / —talking and laughing— / walking north on Parliament Street. // They were tall, kinda pretty though, / with fabulous height-of-fashion winter coats, / long thin legs and high spike heels.” What is fresh in McDonald is the delight in vernacular description….The book is a bravura performance.

~Chronicle Herald

A book of poetry that reads compulsively like a novel – the anguished and ultimately courageous story of an individual caught between genders. The narrator is caught in the funhouse mirror of movies and pop culture, between dreams and self-loathing. These poems must be read in tandem with 1960s/70s sexual liberation classics: Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls (1966), a novel never-old; and Rosemary Daniell’s Sexual Tour of the Deep South (1974), a set of “happening” poems.

~Jury, Dektet 2010

In these street-wandering confessions, McDonald explores the interstices of gender, perception, and image, floating freely between the depths of narrative and the butterfly brevity of poetry. Here is a text where bodies are mapped onto memories, in turn mapped back onto bodies, a palimpsestic circulation that sometimes storytells, sometimes startles, and always spills its truth, a purse overturned on a page.

~Ashok Mathur

How to order this book

Our books are available through Alpine Book Peddlers, Amazon and, to a lesser degree, Chapters/Indigo. Or you can make a request at your local bookseller. Alpine can be reached at 1-866-478-2280, or click the link below to order. Discounts are available for bulk orders.


Bob Stallworthy interview and reading

Basma Kavanagh is on the shortlist for the Atlantic Book Awards

The Atlantic Book Awards Society has shortlisted Basma Kavanagh's latest book, Ruba'iyat for the Time of Apricots, for this year's J.M. Abraham Poetry Award. Basma will be reading on Tuesday, June 4 at the Kentville Library, in Kentville.  The awards Gala will be held...

Bob Stallworthy is awarded the Golden Pen Award

The Alberta Writers Guild has awarded Bob the 2019 Golden Pen Award, a lifetime achievement award that he richly deserves. Bob has been a great friend to Frontenac House. We have been proud to publish three of his books of poetry; From a Call Box, Optics, and Things...

Rooster, Dog, Crow is on the 2019 Raymond Souster Award Longlist

Congratulations to Jim Nason for landing on this prestigious shortlist!

Quartet 2021 Call For Submissions

The call for submissions for Quartet 2021 is now open, and will close on April 30, 2020. Once this call closes, all manuscripts will be reviewed by our acquisitions editors and a short-list will be produced. This list will be further evaluated and the final titles...

Recent Titles

YYC POP – Poetic Portraits of People

By Sheri-D Wilson If a city is characterized by the people who live there, as Calgary transforms, it is important to acknowledge who we are as we grow and change. With this idea in mind, we asked the community to write about someone who represents or captures the...

Impact Statement

By Bob StallworthyImpact Statement is a book of transitions.Transitions that are brought about by a catastrophic health situation. Transitions in life brought on by facing the potential for death and dying to happen at any time; being desperate enough to ask for help...


By Mark Vitaris The book is a photographic discourse on the country that straddles the forty-ninth parallel from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains to the grasslands of Saskatchewan and to the western Dakotas. It depicts the land metaphorically as a river of...

A Love Letter to Emily C

By Sheri-D Wilson A Love Letter to Emily C explores the life, times and milestones of Canadian icon and artist Emily Carr.  Humorous and moving, this play is a dialogue between Carr and her monkey Woo, as Carr unravels her life. Fall in love with the making of...

This Was Our Valley

By Shirlee Smith Matheson and Earl K. Pollon This Was Our Valley was a phenomenal success when first released in 1989, winning the Alberta Culture Nonfiction prize as well as the Silver medal for the Roderick-Haig Brown BC Books award. This Was Our Valley brought to...

A Brush With Depth: The Art of Rick Sealock

By Rick Sealock and Christina VesterProduction details are not yet finalized, so the above information may change. Rick Sealock has been creating wild and wacky illustrations for clients as varied as Rolling Stone, Texas Monthly, The Washington Post, Natural Health...

Common Brown House Moths

By Laura Zacharin In Common Brown House Moths, poems step back from the hurry, blur and ordinariness to take a closer look at the the hazards of daily life . From her work as a doctor and  everyday family life, first time author, Laura Zacharin considers themes of...

Waterline Immersion

By Conrad Scott Diversely interwoven with threads from the Norse creation myth, to colonial Contact with North America, to personal stories about his grandparents, Conrad Scott's Waterline Immersion asks the fundamental question of what it means to understand a place....

Baddie One Shoe

By Natalie Meisner You know that voice in your head that cuts through it? Does the ill-advised thing in the name of hard won fun? The friend who finishes the bottle with you that needs finishing, stays till closing, holds your hair out of the way if needed? The Tough...

Against Forgetting

By Keith Garebian A delve into the personal history of a man affected by the Armenian genocide and the ways he makes Canada home. The poetic lines and strong emotional tug of the book outline the long lasting effects of trauma and what it means to remake a home....