keats, at 206, is very oldFor years, I've made the joke that Brockwell only reads the dead, and I only read the living. Keats and Yeats. What was that line from John Thompson's Stilt Jack (Anansi, 1976), the first two lines of "Ghazal IX," writing:
out into that,
over annex, &
true, this only comes
or is it time
& then to keep time,
w/ any age
& this autumn part
one loves life
for all the living
Yeats. Yeats. Yeats. Yeats. Yeats. Yeats. Yeats.But that's beside the point. I'd read a few David Bromige books here and there, including books by Brick Books and Black Sparrow, but it was the one that I picked up from Janet Inksetter's former store location for Annex Books, Birds of the West (Coach House Press, 1974), that really struck me. Struck enough to fall into this little piece, left in the middle of the book that became name , an errant (Stride, 2006). Bromige is one of those Canadian west coast 1960s poets, one of the University of British Columbia student-poets, that participated in the infamous 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference, despite heading south a year earlier to Berkeley for further studies. Part of a group of Vancouver writers that included George Bowering, Frank Davey, Fred Wah, David Dawson and Jamie Reid, he kept in touch through correspondence with his Canadian friends, as well as publishing books with Talonbooks and Coach House throughout the years, as well as over a dozen by American publisher Black Sparrow. Wasn’t there a story of he and George Bowering sending inappropriate emails back and forth on the SUNY-Buffalo Poetics list-serve a few years ago, and being asked to either leave or tone down?
Why wouldn’t the man shut up?
It was the short lines Bromige used in this particular collection that triggered, working his own kind of references to Keats in one of the pieces. Are all poems simply responses to other poems? Writing from writing, McFadden said, books from books.
Whenever I travel, I like to have a familiar place I return to daily write, whether a particular coffeeshop in Vancouver just by MacLeod's Books, a Second Cup on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton or the Grad Lounge at the University of Alberta, or the Future Bakery on Bloor Street in Toronto's Annex. This particular poem was written at the Future Bakery, close enough to the University of Toronto to be a student hangout, and where, over the years, I've seen, deliberately and accidentally, writers such as Nathaniel G. Moore, Adeena Karasick, Stan Rogal, Steve Venright, Colin Christie, Beth Easton, Rebecca Rosenbaum, Leon Rooke, Catherine Kidd, Dana Bath, Corey Frost, Cary Fagan, Jim Munroe, Andy Brown and various others. Years ago, I would regularly drop in at the Book City location nearby to visit with writers that worked there, including Derek McCormack, Patrick Rawley, Paul Vermeersch, Alana Wilcox, Chris Chambers and John Degen, and to even be near St. George Street and not visit Coach House is simply a crime. The years of Victor Coleman and Darren Wershler-Henry before the advent of Alana Wilcox, with the numerous threads that might never leave: Nicky Drumbolis, Rick/Simon and Stan Bevington.
Toronto writer and editor Michael Holmes even wrote a small book in the same Future Bakery a few years before I started writing there, published by Coach House Printing, predating the new Coach House Books by a couple of years, produced in a cd case as Satellite Dishes from the Future Bakery (Coach House Printing, 1994). I don’t think I've been nearly so overt. Still, I've done enough travel that I like my routine, my comfort, returning daily to a particular locale for the sake of grounding, to be able to sit and to write, take notes. How else to feel like a person during such a displacement?