162 pp; 5 1/2 x 8 1/2; $10.00 paper
This edition originally published by New Star Books in 1989. Currently distributed by Lazara Press.
In 2009, the Globe and Mail discovered Helen Potrebenko’s Taxi as a “Buried Treasure.”
“In the 1970s and ’80s, Helen Potrebenko was a cherished and important Vancouver writer, well known for her early writing in Pedestal, Canada’s first women’s-liberation newspaper, and for her numerous books that included short stories, novels, poems and plays. Hers was the significant working-class urban feminist voice. She also had jokes, good ones. Modern Times, a major bookstore in San Francisco, had a big sign telling customers that if they only read one book in 1975, it should be Taxi!” — Anakana Schofield
Check out Anakana’s blog, Have You Read Taxi? for the story of Taxi!‘s 30th birthday party, held at Vancouver Public Library on April 29, 2010.
It is rare for working-class women to be given a voice in literature; Helen Potrebenko has long had the reputation of giving women this voice. From the waitress in the title story, to a fictitious interview with a not so fictitious author (herself) on CBC’s Morningside, Potrebenko once again makes people the subject, not the object of their own lives. This diverse collection of stories introduces Potrebenko fans and new readers alike to biting social satire with real people and real lives firmly attached.
“A hard hitting social satirist, Potrebenko attacks conventional middle-class assumptions by understanding them from within.” — The Vancouver Sun
“Helen Potrebenko’s collection of short fiction, Hey Waitress and Other Stories, is just plain good reading. Her stories expose us to a medley of ordinary lives; stories of office temps, bank clerks, secretaries, and waitresses are told with honesty, accuracy and warmth.” — Quill and Quire
“… so real and touch that postmodern jargon seems incapable of deconstructing it.” –Canadian Literature
175 pp; 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
“These are stories about ordinary Canadians, the kind that used to be told on winter evenings when the work was done. They are not intended to be representative but are about people I interviewed or talked to or saw or heard about. The intention is to add acquaintances to the variety of people you already know.
Most of the stories are an attempt to portray what the person told me as it was presented, others are fictional constructs of some aspect of an event. Some names have been changed, some have not.
I am of the opinion that history cannot be told through recitals of the deeds of mad kings, but only through descriptions of the work of ordinary citizens.” — from the Introduction
NO STREETS OF GOLD: Â A SOCIAL HISTORY OF UKRAINIANS IN ALBERTA
311 pp; 5 1/2 x 8 1/2; $10.00
Originally published by New Star Books in 1977; distributed by Lazara Press
“One school assignment required each of us to draw a flag of Canada and write under it what country our parents came from. We didn’t know. We told the teacher our parents came from the Old Country, but she said that wasn’t good enough. My mother told me they came from Russia and I told the others, so we all dutifully wrote under our Union Jacks that our parents came from Russia. It seems absurd now, looking back, to remember those Canadian kids writing under a British flag that their Ukrainian and Belorussian parents came from Russia. No wonder we were confused.”
LETTERS TO MAGGIE
52 pp; saddle-stitched chapbook; $10.00
“They asked me a long time ago to write about you; I tried but the writing was just a flat piece of paper whereas you were still round and filled out and vital and would not flat out to fit on paper. I could not explain in writing the inadequacy of writing. You were walking through the woods, with that nice smile, speaking at a rally, rushing off somewhere with multi briefcases, mulling over the Scrabble board…”
In a series of letters/stories, Potrebenko, a long-time friend of social activist and feminist Maggie Benston, tells Maggie what’s been happening in the world since her death in 1991.
67 pp; $10.00
This is Potrebenko’s first collection of poems, published in 1985.
I hope it’s a restaurant and not a bank,
climbing that jesus great hill after Revelstoke.
I hope it’s summer and not winter in Rogers Pass.
Before I get too old for walking,
I’d like to get to Newfoundland.
I’ve always wanted to visit Newfoundland,
We are very sad to say that Lazara Press author, and my friend, Helen Potrebenko died on August 10, 2022. She will be much missed.
To see more of Helen’s work, spend some time on her blog.