Calgary author serves her broken heart on a silver platter in her book debut
Lipstick Stains and Coffee Cups a rollercoaster of emotions
Lipstick Stains and Coffee Cups is available at Indigo, independent bookstores, and directly from www.jamielouisemadigan.com. Madigan will be at the Lilac Festival on Sunday. // Submitted
A decade ago, her heart cracked open. These are the remnants.
“I wonder how it feels to be the main course instead of the toothpick and peppermint at the door on the way out,” muses Jamie Louise Madigan in her poem “Peppermint.”
The words the 30-year-old Calgary author shares make her feel naked and vulnerable, remembering a time when things were highly emotional after going through a tumultuous breakup from an abusive relationship when she was 18.
But it’s those hardships that make up the words to Madigan’s first book, a collection of poetry titled Lipstick Stains and Coffee Cups, released earlier this year.
A decade in the making
The book is comprised of poetry she wrote more than a decade ago, but it wasn’t until the pandemic that Madigan thought about putting those painful words into a book for others to hungrily consume.
“It was absolutely terrifying the day I released it. My body was shaking because it is very vulnerable and personal,” Madigan says.
“And part of me feels like my heart is on a silver platter with a fork and knife as the world bites into it.”
While Madigan feels like a different person now, she reflects on the words she wrote back then.
“I look back on those poems and I cannot believe that my mind used to think like that because I would not even tolerate that behaviour now,” she says, reflecting on her time in that abusive relationship.
“I wanted to share it with the world and make sure that everyone knows that it's possible to get out and see the light at the end of the tunnel. The grass is always greener.”
Pen to paper
Madigan moved to Calgary with her parents when she was just six years old. Her parents had visited Banff and Lake Louise on their honeymoon, and fell in love with the Rockies.
Madigan worked in restaurants her whole life but she always found herself drawn to artistry and creative writing in school.
But it wasn’t until the breakup at age 18 that Madigan put pen to paper in the form of poetry.
“I was just going through so much pain at the time and I just suddenly had all of these emotions inside of me, but I needed to get it out on paper,” Madigan says.
“So, I got it out on paper. And then I kind of looked through it over the years, and was like, ‘Oh, I actually have a decent amount of work here.’”
That’s when she organized her words, putting the poems in chronological order to tell a story.
“That inspired me,” she says, adding the pandemic gave her time to focus on putting her poetry into book form.
Resonating with readers
Madigan released the book on Valentine’s Day, and the reception and feedback have been positive. She’s met with fans and has done signings at local bookstores.
Madigan met one reader who brought her daughter, who also experienced an abusive relationship. Some other girls have shared similar experiences with her.
“It’s amazing to connect with people and get that sense of the community,” she says.
“At the time it feels like the end of the world and no one understands, but then you realize everyone suffers the same way and there’s going to be parallels to everyone’s suffering. It’s been very therapeutic.”
But sharing such vulnerability and pain with people has also been an emotional journey. What keeps Madigan going is knowing that you have to be vulnerable to share your experiences with the world.
“It’s a very soul-shattering experience, but it’s good,” Madigan adds.
The first half of her book is what Madigan calls “the guts,” which is the heavier topics. It’s also the metaphor of a lipstick stain left on a white collar, symbolic of a tumultuous relationship that leaves an impression.
The second half of the book is the coffee cups theme.
“The feeling that you get when you drink a warm cup of coffee, like an adrenaline rush of new beginnings,” she says, adding she wanted to weave the theme of lipstick stains and coffee cups together.
“It's up to the readers if they can tell when the shift happens.”
Madigan will be at the Lilac Festival on Sunday and invites Calgarians to say hi.
Lipstick Stains and Coffee Cups is available at Indigo, independent bookstores, and directly from www.jamielouisemadigan.com.