CLARKE: New poets bring Layton to mind
This new review is from the Halifax Chronicle Herald, and was written by recently-appointed Toronto Poet Laureate George Elliot Clarke. The review is a double-bill along with Darren Bifford's Wedding in Fire Country. In it he speaks of the "wonky fusion" of Al Purdy, Irving Layton and Richard Brautigan that he found in my writing. Who knows which poet(s) someone is going to find in there next...
George Elliot Clarke visited my high school when I was in Grade 12. Funnily enough, I wasn't able to attend his reading (drama rehearsal, I seem to recall). I didn't really have poetry on my radar at that time, anyway. But Clarke was my first poet, that first corporeal being I encountered who actively spent their adult life writing poems in this day and age, and in this country. How peculiar, but also how suddenly possible. Simply knowing he was in the same building as me was, though I didn't know it at the time, a formative event in my life. So everything that's followed is Clarke's fault, in a sense.
Often when I visit a high school classroom to read or conduct a workshop I think of Clarke's visit, and the similar corrupting influence that I might be having on one or two of the students around me.
My point here is that to wake up in Zambia and read George Elliot Clarke describe my book as "full of promise" and me as a "writer of talent" is more than a little surreal and full-circle-ish, and I'm very grateful.
Thank you to Clarke for his time and attention, and to the Chronicle Herald for giving him the space in which to work.