John Newlove (1938 – 2003) was born in Regina but lived in places such as Ontario, British Columbia and California. He was a senior editor at Mclelland and Stewart, in addition to working as a teacher, a social worker, and writer-in-residence at various universities. A Long Continual Argument: The Selected Poems of John Newlove is now available from Chaudiere Books.
“Call it a weakness,” says the witch,
ducking her head coyly, like someone violently in love,
as Bugs Bunny lectures her on the immorality
- the sheer inutility -
of dining on children. She has become
almost a young girl again, so shy,
at being caught in self-indulgence,
There is no forgiveness.
The Tasmanian Devil knows that.
But he wants justice, or, at least, an answer.
“Whyfor you bury me in the cold, cold ground?”
he asks. And there is no answer.
Not even Bugs Bunny knows the answer to that one.
This country is so old that no one can remember
its history. The sky blooms and the rocks flower.
Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic, Prairie. The oceans
surround us, blue, grey, white, green, the land
goes on forever.
Canada is my home town. Trees fill the mind
and people look at me sideways and smile.
THE DEATH OF THE HIRED MAN
He collapsed like a sack of wet shit
which is what we all are, if you think of it,
and lay without a twitch in the deep pit
he had been ordered not to dig in that massive heat,
transformed into, as we all will be, a piece of meat.
So, I'd like to start with a comment made near the end of your Late Nights with Wild Cowboys, in the poem "Jawbone." You express real fear and anxiety over the prospect of having your life and love be objectified, turned into summary, a bowdlerized rendering that "[leaves] nearly everything out." More than that, though, you are worried about how we ourselves are complicit in this sort of exclusionary act. I guess what I'd like to ask first, then, is: do you imagine poetry as a means of letting things in rather than keeping everything out? And what are you aiming to let in, exactly?
I really do think of poetry in that way, in terms of providing a space -- an opening -- in which it might be possible to say the things that are hard, and perhaps impossible, to say otherwise; in which to express that inarticulate feeling that you get sometimes...continue reading
Steve McOrmond's new collection of poems begins with a caution. In the style of TV content warnings, "Advisory" lists potential disturbing content to come: "themes which could threaten the viewer's sense of security," "Evidence of fatalism and irreligion," and the typical forewarnings about sexuality, violence and "language." Here McOrmond displays the dual cautionary and playful perspectives that interact throughout the book, switching from warnings about a drowning and an animal attack to the line, "The following program may contain scenes not suitable for language."
The poem raises the expected questions about what we censor and screen in popular media. What is considered objectionable, and why? Placed at the start of a collection whose title references Armageddon, "Advisory" leads the reader to expect a certain discomfort.
With that warning, the book moves to the title...continue reading