Saturday, September 22, 2012

Why I Am not a People's Poet

Herewith, the talk I didn't give at Mount Allison University yesterday. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

BCP, upcoming events

I am pleased to announce that, for the second time, a poem of mine will be gracing the pages of Tightrope Books' annual Best Canadian Poetry anthology. "One and One," originally published in The Winnipeg Review, was chosen by Carmine Starnino for this year's book, which includes work by a number of friends and five (!) excerpts from Rachel's forthcoming long poem sequence Cottonopolis, which will be published in the spring by Pedlar Press.

A cool thing about being in this anthology is that I'll be reading at two launch events in New York City on Oct. 26. Which happens to be the day before I read in Perth, ON, at the First Edition Reading Series. Nothin but jetset glamour in the poetry world, I tells ya.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I don't know if it's awol during daylight hours
or if the tinnitus in my left ear is merely
dimmer when I'm out and about my business,
its whine too fine a frequency, drowned in the din
of the city's traffic so I forget it's there
until, horizontal in the dark, I'm ready
to receive it. Or, like now, it makes its nuisance
presence known when I sit before a blank screen
wondering what to write. I shouldn't complain
too loudly; as auditory snafus go, mine
is pretty minor. My sister's hyperacusia—
which has plagued her since, doing foley work for film,
she was bombarded by a misfired mortar shell
of sound—makes the normal noise of living hard
to bear. I can't pinpoint when my little hum
got going, don't know if it's grown louder or if
one day it simply fluttered down and lit upon
my shoulder, singing. It's probably the product
of damage less traumatic than my sister's:
my imperfect employment of ear defenders
on the airport tarmac and in the thrumming innards
of the Hawkers I offloaded. I remember
landing in Hall Beach one summer and, once the prop
stopped spinning, I cracked the cargo hatch to such
an immaculate bare flash of silence that I
half-wondered if I'd been struck deaf—until Jonah
fired up the forklift and rumbled up to greet us.
Flying home, I sat mid-cabin in the empty
freighter, reading Dylan Thomas poems aloud,
thinking, wrongly, that the pilots wouldn't hear me
with their headsets on, over the racket of those
Rolls Royce engines I'd parked myself between. And then
there was the neighbour who heard me reading Horace
through the wall in the wee hours and asked, awkwardly,
if I prayed at night. And were the voices that I heard
as I lay abed in Resolute Bay the dark
season hallucinations of a man left
too much alone by the shore of the Northwest Passage—
or signals picked up by my fillings? I listed
to the static of the HF radio enough
to know the tricks the magnetosphere plays on the ear.
John Cage, in his quest for perfect silence, encased
himself in an anechoic chamber, only
to experience the flow and sizzle of his
blood and nerves as auricular phenomena.
I once tried unsuccessfully to give a message
to a woman on a train, until, looking up
from her book, she switched her hearing aid on. “Sorry,”
she said, “I prefer to hear nothing when I read.”
Naively, I've since caught myself at odd times
envying that option, prone to distraction
as I am—but then it strikes me that an intermittent
buzzing could mean that I am yet among the quick.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Public Poetics

I'll be giving a talk at this conference--as long as the timing's right at my soon-to-expire day-job. Failing that, I'll post the talk online. It looks like it'll be a stimulating couple of days.