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Read an Excerpt from Summer in Furnished Rooms by Marc Plourde

Excerpt from Summer in Furnished Rooms by Marc Plourde. Banner image of text overlaid on dark background and Open Book logo below. Image of book cover to the left and old brick building facade as main background to all.

People and places may come and go in our lives, but their imprint lasts long, and can sometimes linger and evolve in peculiar and interesting ways. 

In the new collection Summer in Furnished Rooms (Cormorant Books), Marc Plourde moves through time and looks to these people and places, many of them now disappeared. With his deft and impactful poetry, he brings forward characters and settings like the skipper from Hemingway's' boat who inspired The Old Man and the Sea, the toucans and paradise tanagers from a Columbian wildlife reserve, and the Empire Theatre on Ogilvy Street in Old Montreal.

We're delighted to share an excerpt right here on Open Book, with a poem chosen by the author as a primer on this affecting collection.


In Peace Dale, Long before I Heard of Edward Hopper, excerpted from Summer in Furnished Rooms by Marc Plourde


One summer in Peace Dale, Rhode Island, long before I heard

of Edward Hopper, the silence of the small town

descended on our porch

and overtook our attention. All summer we were held in



a suspended moment where the silence lengthened

and amplified while my fourteen-year-old sister

sat on the screened-in porch

staring at a road on which not a single car

had passed that day or the day before,


Marc Plourde

Marc Plourde, author of Summer in Furnished Rooms

until one afternoon she bent over weeping

and wailing Peace Dale was killing her,

rocking with arms crossed and hands clutching her sides.

That’s overdoing it, I thought, acting like she’s Janet Leigh

in the shower scene in Psycho. And besides,

Peace Dale has its bright spots, I thought:

there’s the fair in August and the town swimming hole,

if you pass over the leeches at the bottom.


After she wept herself dry, a look settled on my sister’s face,

not a starlet-in-distress look, but a look I saw years later

on the figures in Edward Hopper’s paintings. In Cape Cod Evening,

two figures are in a yard in Truro, Cape Cod: the woman

is sullen, staring down with arms folded over her chest,

the man sitting on the stoop is gesturing to a dog

attentive to something else — to a bird or

the wind rippling the weeds of late summer. On the left,

blue-black locust trees appear to be drawing nearer.

The faces at dusk are isolate, driven inward.

Summer in Furnished Rooms by Marc Plourde

Summer in Furnished Rooms by Marc Plourde

Faces in a yard in Truro, nighthawks at a dark reflective counter,

Hopper incised in memory, in the shadings of a moment,

a time of day, where nothing changes.

My sister, sinking into this moment like a swimming hole

with leeches, became theatrically hysterical. I looked the other way.


Other Hopper paintings have no figures at all.

In Seven A.M., the storefront in Nyack, New York, is ash white

with black-green woods on the left. In the window

discarded-looking items are displayed — a few bottles, a few photos —

and there’s a pendulum clock and its shadow on the wall.

Starkness stares you in the face, and yet

in starkness Hopper found the suspended moment

and gelled its passing details on canvas.


In Peace Dale, Rhode Island,

long before she heard of Edward Hopper, my sister

in the silence of the porch and beyond, turned inward

after seeing the wind lose its breath in the weeds of late summer.



Excerpt taken from Summer in Furnished Rooms. Published by Cormorant Books. Copyright Marc Plourde, 2024.

Marc Plourde established himself both as a poet and as a translator at a young age; poems he wrote before he was twenty were included in The Penguin Book of Canadian Verse, in 1975. He is the author of three collections of poetry — Touchings, The White Magnet, and Borrowed Days — and a short story collection called The Spark Plug Thief. Plourde has translated works by Victor-Lévy Beaulieu, Gaston Miron, and Gilbert Langevin. He lives in Montréal, Québec.

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Summer in Furnished Rooms

Summer in Furnished Rooms reflects on the passage of time and breathes new life into people and places that disappeared long ago. From Gregorio Fuentes, skipper on Ernest Hemingway’s boat and inspiration for The Old Man and the Sea, to toucans and paradise tanagers undulating in waves of colour on a Colombian wildlife preserve, to the old red-brick Empire Theatre on Ogilvy Street and the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, showing there in ’64, Marc Plourde invokes a life’s experience in resonant narrative verse.