by carl wilson

Max Poetics: Canada Gets Along With Everyone


But primarily poetry is supposed to have a pleasure principle. It's all about sensual reading, hearing song and echoes of songs - contaminated, of course, by adulthood. - Ken Babstock

Tonight's the annual Griffin Poetry Prize here in town, that apollonian bacchanal where the old ladies flirt with the young drunks (gender unimportant) and poets look lost in their suits. We're here to send out a what-what to our poemboy Ken-B, fresh off his Trillium score and now up for the domestic cheddar of the Griff's $50K payday - there's also a $50K international award. K-Babs says some sharp things in the paper today in an interview with my colleague James Adams. Good luck, drink slowly and don't forget when you was just Kenny from the block. Or, well, the Rock. And if you do win, be aware you will thenceforth be known as "Professor Griff." On the other hand, if Don McKay gets some payback for his outrageous '05 sonning by Roo Borson, we won't be boo-hooing either. (Meanwhile from points west, this fella grouses about awards and ethics; he's not entirely right or wrong but the caveat's always worth noting.)

Elsewhere in the versiverse - still in Toronto, but outside the horserace winners' circles - writer (and Eye arts ed.) Damian Rogers, who invented the "live magazine" Pontiac Quarterly, is now launching the "Tipsy International Poetry Series," with a visit from the Wave Books' posse's two Matts, Matthew Zapruder and Matthew Rohrer (who got an international Griffin nomination, but no pot o' gold, the year before last). Zoilus likes the cut of their writerly jibs, and if you missed them when the Poetry Bus rolled through town last summer, you've got two fresh baked opportunities: Thursday at 7 pm Damian and Brooklyn's diacritic duo (okay, that doesn't even make sense) will be reading at Type Books, 883 Queen W. The next night, though, Tipsy offers a much more shimmery, feather-boa sort of lit event at Buddies in Bad Times called ONWARD HO! (Which my brain immediately Beckettizes into "Worstward Ho" but ignore my brain), a "crazy circus of a night" that starts at 7, ends at a reasonable 9:30 pm and includes not only the Matthews but the aforementioned Ken Babstock (either buying the rounds or drowning his sorrows), RM Vaughan, Zoe Whittall and Lisa Foad, Kevin Connolly, Emily Schultz, a.rawlings, and toute la gang. Coach House will have a poetic-sound "listening booth", the Test series will in some sense represent, there will be visual projections, a "raunchy musical soundtrack" and a Reading Tent, where poets will read one poem to one person in cozy confidence. Resistance is, of course, futile.

Finally I want to mention that Toronto writer Kevin Courrier is beating me handily to the 33 1/3 punch with the launch this coming Tuesday of his own entry in the series. Kevin's previously the author of a fine volume called Randy Newman's American Dreams (the basic reason my 33 1/3 book isn't about Newman's Good Old Boys) and another about Frank Zappa though I won't read books about Frank Zappa. Now he's taking on a real Sasquatch of a subject, that Rosetta Stone(d) of art-rock, Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica. Courrier seems to be carving out a niche in early-'70s California Warner-Reprise acts, with Zappa probably the linchpin - who's next? Tim Buckley? Tom Waits? The launch is at This Ain't the Rosedale Library, 8 pm Tuesday, free.

Some Matt Rohrer poems.

And a poem from Matthew Zapruder's book The Pyjamist.


By Canada I have always been fascinated.
All that snow and acquiescing.
All that emptiness, all those butterflies
marshalled into an army of peace.
Moving north away from me
Canada has no border, away
like the state its northern border
withers into the skydome. In a world
full of mistrust and self-medication
I have always hated Canada.
It makes me feel like I'm shouting
at a child for letting a handful
of pine needles run through his fist.
Canada gets along with everyone
while I hang, a dark cloud
above the schoolyard. I know
we need war, all the skirmishes
to keep our borders where
we have placed them, all
the migration, all the difference.
Just like Canada the Dalai Lama
is now in Canada, and everyone
is fascinated. When they come
to visit me, no one ever leaves me
saying, the most touching thing
about him is he's so human.
Or, I was really glad to hear
so many positive ideas regardless
of the consequences expressed.
Or I could drink a case of you.
No one has ever pedaled
every inch of thousands of roads
through me to raise awareness
for my struggle for autonomy.
I have pity but no respect for others,
which according to certain religious leaders
is not compassion, just ordinary
love based on attitudes towards myself.
I wonder how long I can endure.
In Canada the leaves are falling.
When they do each one rustles
maybe to the white tailed deer
of sadness, and it's clear
that whole country does not exist
to make me feel crappy
like a candelabra hanging
above the prison world,
condemned to freely glow.

General | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, June 06 at 2:46 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (0)




Zoilus by Carl Wilson