Tuesday, April 09, 2013

ACTUALLY, AFTER READING THESE POEMS I'M NOT SAD AT ALL

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            David W. McFadden

The introduction to this 2007 Insomniac Press collection of David W. McFadden’s selected poems (as chosen, or sometimes fought over by editor Stuart Ross and the author) offers this insight into McFadden’s work. “There are few Canadian poets who offer as much pure pleasure as Dave. In fact, he forbids analysis of his poems.”

It’s been another long day of this, that and the other thing and I don’t much feel like analyzing anything, but I was reading some of the poems in the book and that’s exactly what they do: offer pure pleasure. The one that got to me today is Poem for Jennifer to Read Many Years From Now. He wrote it in 1969 when his daughter was a wee thing, and it’s funny and poignant and slightly horrifying and whimsical all wrapped up into one glorious piece.

This being a fairly big book of poems, I tend to crack it open willy-nilly and read at random, which in this case is pretty much how the poems got laid out anyway; McFadden fed the titles into his computer and had it generate a random order for them—and I just realized I wrote that the poems got laid. Good for them!

In 1940 he writes:

            Poetry thrives when language is allowed to flow
            naturally like a river, brook or creek
            and in order to initiate and maintain that flow
            the poet must stand aside, keep himself
            completely out of it, and once that flow begins
            should it wish to carry him or her with it
            he or she should not resist. In order
            to write poetry one must keep himself out of it
            but once the poetry begins it soon becomes apparent
            it has a mind of its own and if it wants
  to exploit intimate aspects of the poet’s life
  to resist it would be to destroy it.

Words to live by. Talk about a manifesto for poetry!

There’s a Facebook page called Lost Kootenays devoted to pictures of yore taken in the Koots. Someone added one of the Shamrock Grill in Nelson, from which arose a long thread of nostalgic comments. So you can imagine my delight when I came across Margaret Hollingsworth’s Typewriter that begins:

            I was eating scrambled eggs in the Shamrock Restaurant
            and the eggs tasted like Chinese food
            so I said to the waitress I’m a person
            who likes Chinese food but doesn’t like
            my eggs in the morning to taste like chicken fried rice
            and she laughed and said it must have been
            the green onions and suggested the next time
            I come into the Shamrock for breakfast
            I specify that I want Canadian green onions
            with my scrambled eggs or I’ll get Chinese again

            and I said there won’t be another time,
            this is it, I’m a widely respected blah blah and blah

and on he goes, and yes, he get to the typewriter.

McFadden spent three years teaching at David Thompson University Centre in Nelson at the end of the seventies. I grew up in Nelson, couldn’t wait to leave of course, so I missed all that. But I got to meet him in 2011 when I was in Toronto and he was at a book launch I attended.

At the November 2011 Mansfield Press Fall Launch, Lillian Necakov signs a book for David McFadden 
David W. McFadden is a finalist for the 2013 Griffin Award for Poetry for What’s the Score?, a Stuart Ross book from Mansfield Press. I think it would be just lovely if he won.

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1 comment:

George Bowering said...

I have always loved David McFadden, long before the W., and now I love Linda Crosfield, so you can imagine how happy I am to see them getting together.