BC Poetry 2017: "Bad Ideas" by Michael V. Smith (Nightwood Editions)

Awkward Moments

I’m watching a videotape of my partner 
and I making love at eighteen. 

I can’t get over how beautiful we were, 
how thin and small our 
waists and ribcages. How 
much hair I had. 

I found the tape in a box of things
at my mom’s house; she’d obviously 
been going through each 
of my diaries and photos. 

                         I thought you were happy, 
and straight, my mom says that evening, 
half-asleep, but bitterly.
                         I am happy, but I never 
said I was straight, I tell her. 

I pick up the box to take it with me.
You’re welcome, she says as a gesture.


Michael V. Smith is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, performance artist and occasional clown. He is the author of several books including What You Can’t Have (Signature Editions, 2006), which was short-listed for the ReLit Award, and My Body Is Yours (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2015), which was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. He is also the winner of the inaugural Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBT Emerging Writers and was nominated for the Journey Prize. Smith currently teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna.


Nobody knows bad ideas quite like Michael V. Smith. In Bad Ideas, he speaks to an intangibility of sense, or a sense beyond the rational. The book explores the inevitability of loss and triumph with characteristic irony and tenderness. Through this dazzling collection of a remembered life, hung out to ogle like laundry on the line, Smith recalls a mother who discovers a sex tape, a man who dreams of birthing his own son and a woman who blends her baby girls into milkshakes.

Bad Ideas is a testament to how an altered perspective effects change, how stories can be recast. The collection forms itself into an exercise in which optimism is a practiced art recaptured in dreams and prayers and combined to acknowledge the unknowable, the contradictory, the ungraspable: "An evening is composed / in a hundred unchoreographed / dramas”; "I pull a Clark Kent / transform, dressed as a monk / in burgundy and gold robes. I think / this will protect me, but it doesn't”; "Dear Hatred, sweet / Hatred, do you not move our enemies / to know us better?” Hyperbolic and sincere, this collection brawls with the unquantifiable themes of family, loneliness and love.


Coming May 2017.


Book Launches:

Prince George, April 28
Kelowna, May 12
Montreal, May 23
Ottawa, May 24
Toronto Glad Day, May 25
Kingston, May 31
Hamilton, May 26
Vancouver, June 14

Keep an eye on Michael's website for details!

Purchases: From the Harbour Publishing website or at your local bookstore. $18.95.


Acknowledging the ungraspable.

The copyrights of all poems included in the series remain with their authors, and are reprinted with the permission of the publishers.

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