Tuesday, December 18, 2007
'Who will buy my dirty potatoes?'
David McGimpsey is the most important poet writing in Canada today. In fact he is the most important poet of his generation.
There. I said it.
McGimpsey would probably scoff at such pompous-ass, meaningless hyperbole. But there it is. And it's how I'm feeling after reading his latest volume of poetry entitled Sitcom. It's bar none the most vibrant, refreshing book I've read all year. How this book was overlooked for the GG, the Griffin, the Shmiffin, the Shmeegee, and whatever other poetry awards they're handing out these days, I'll never understand. Actually, I do. This book is too damn funny (in a serious sort of way), too damn subtle (in a complex sort of way) and too damn irreverent (in a respectful sort of way) to merit the rubber stamp of literary officialdom. Oh, and did I mention how damn funny it is.
'A good student will always learn to laugh at old professors' (Architeuthis)
McGimpsey, a Prof. in the Concordia creative writing program knows how to laugh. At himself. At us. And he gets us laughing at ourselves too, which may be the greatest achievement of these poems. No, the greatest achievement is that between har-hars we're subsumed in genuine, bona fide, beautifully written poems, and feeling giddy from the entire poetic enterprise. How can you not love a poem that begins, "Two dogs walk into a Manhatten bar." (Manhatten)
Scheduled guests on the Tony Danza Show/ stay at the luxurious downtown Onmi (Voice-Over)
How to convey the effect? How do I put this. Well, imagine you are sitting in the livingroom of another dimension and watching a late-night talk show (take your pick) on a tiny screen, the parade of comedians, washed-up movie stars plugging their latest lines of perfumes and lingerie, whatever-happened-to actors making tearful tv admissions of marital infidelity and drug abuse for one more stab at the limelight, flavour of the month pop stars not really caring; and then come the ads. You are McGimpsey. It is your love. Your undying devotion. To a reality. A truth. McGimpsey writes "On my tombstone, may it be written:/ Here lies he who loved freedom, of course/ as much as he loved a good talking horse." (Timon)
One of the few times you actually came to class you said Timon of Athens was an unreadable play about 'a fucktard who has a hissy fit when he realizes he can't buy friendship'. (B-/C+)
Yes. McGimpsey uses the word fucktard in a poem. And all I could think of was Shakespeare's 'hoisted by their own petards'. McGimpsey is smart enough to intentionally suggest such an allusion, know that resonance. Actually scratch that last comment. Poetry analysis is for fucktards.
Down to his too-tight track pants, the tenor is more or less what you would expect. (Opera)
Track pants on a tenor? What's he doing, running the quartermile? Actually no, he's shvitzing up a storm on the couch of the abovementioned talk show answering idiotic sycophantic questions and between mouthfuls of blah blah blah, yelling at the likes of Richard Hatch, Sanjaya, and Ralph Malph. Bastardo! It's utter mayhem, until someone says (the baritone) 'Have you noticed how country music these days sounds more like Bon Jovi than Merle Haggard?' The guests all look at one another in silence. Pause. They wonder what it means. Pause. They know what it means. And so do we.