Tuesday, June 05, 2018



Here's a David McFadden book spine poem. He’s had a form of Alzheimer's for a few years and now he's in palliative care.

Kootenay friends may remember him from his time teaching at DTUC in Nelson back in the early 80s. Why Are You So Sad?, published by Insomniac Press, was nominated for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2008. It didn't win, but at the reading that preceded the award ceremony he read Secrets of the Universe which is a completely Nelson poem in so many ways—Ward and Baker streets get a mention, so does Hipperson Hardware, and then there's the encounter he describes. Have a listen and you'll see what I mean!

He didn't win the Griffin that year, but five years later he did, for What's the Score?, published by Mansfield PressA mutual friend says his daughter Jenny would like it if we’d read one or two of his poems today. It’s hard to read just one once you start, but when I opened Why Are You So Sad? and landed on this one, it was just too perfect not to share.

Love’s Golden Splendor

A woman is reading a book called Love’s Golden Splendor
on the bus heading down to the Pape station
And I look out the window and see a young man
pushing an old lady in a wheelchair, quickly,
for it is about to start raining.
Later, on the subway, there’s another woman
reading Love’s Golden Splendor, and a young
African woman, fashionably dressed, sits by herself
unself-consciously singing Billie Holiday songs.

My verses are subtle yet unschooled, amateur but never
didactic. The twentieth century means nothing to me.
This could be ninth-century China for all I care.
Everything is myth. I've wound up all my affairs
and am about to put all my possessions in a boat
and push it out in the bay and sink it. We have never
taken a step out of eternity. I think it's time
for you to come with me. Let's just go
and let's not know or even care where we're going.

 Here's to your being here, Dave. Here's to your going.

David McFadden, October 11, 1940–June 6, 2018


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