Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Audio: New York and Perth

Obviously, I'm in the middle of a difficult time. I left home a week ago today not knowing if my father would still be living when I returned. His condition had deteriorated rapidly since being diagnosed with lung cancer in September and he took a major turn for the worse after being admitted to a hospice last week. The day before I was to leave for New York, I said to my mother that I should cancel the trip. She told me I should do no such thing and that my father would have said the same. So I went, deciding to cut an Ottawa high school visit out of my schedule and take a plane home instead of the train.

 I arrived in New York late Thursday morning. When I checked in with my mother that evening, I learned that Andy had died a few hours earlier. This made being away harder yet, but also made it all the more important that I carry on. My father had a powerful aversion to preciousness and hated to have a fuss made over birthdays and such. In one of the last conversations I had with him, he was reading the obits in the Charlottetown Guardian and vociferating about the purple prose they contained. "Not for me," he said, "I'll have none of it! Just put me in the ground. Or burn me."

 So, I'll say no more on that subject. Here is the audio from two of the readings I did. First, the Best Canadian Poetry launch at The Corner Bookstore in New York's Upper East Side. Second, my reading with Elizabeth Greene and Matthew Tierney at the First Edition Reading Series in Perth, Ontario.


Monday, October 29, 2012

I.M. Andrew Wells (April 8, 1936-October 25, 2012)


The poetry in him’s not hard to miss—
Lear’s Kent, steady servant, taking cover
when cynics stormed the stage, but never
hiding out. No lies in him, his honest
talk not florid, stripped of artifice
and ornament. Plain. Don’t take his silence
for indifference, don’t mistake it for a lack
of love, nor his boxer’s skill for violence,
his aptitude with axe and saw and maul
for bloodlust. Flawed? Yes, but what he hacked
apart he raised into a home, a small
solid shield against impending weather,
and at its heart a J√łtul blazing hot.
My father was not a man who said a lot.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Big Apple and Perth

A couple of events coming up. I'll be reading in NYC at launches for the Best Canadian Poetry 2012 on Oct. 26. There's one reading at 2 and another at 6.

The following day, I blast back over the border for a reading in pretty little Perth, Ontario. Details on that reading, here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Poem Online

I have a new poem up at The Toronto Review of Books, as part of a terrific little feature curated by TRB poetry editor Moez Surani.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Doped on the day-bed in the maple-stained
sunlight flowing through the bow window he built—

it leaked and, though stopgapped, dark watermarks
still flaw the stanchions that anchor the panes—

my father, propped up on pillows, reclines,
gnarled, arthritic hands crossed on his breastbone,

mouth open a crack and jaw slack, so that
his bottom lip underhangs the top and his face

makes an uncanny true-flesh facsimile
of the death mask of Brunelleschi,

at rest beneath the improbable, homely
softwood cathedral he raised with his hands.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Moving Scene

I have an essay up at Contemporary Poetry Review on the poetry and poetics of description. CLM followers might have a feeling of deja vu, as I posted an audio version of this piece some time ago after I delivered it as a lecture at UNB. See, I'm doing my bit for the planet by recycling.