splattered earth at a bookstore near me

marta and i are heading away for a few days on the gulf islands, which means i won't be able to respond to the dozens of requests i receive daily for my year-old chapbook splattered earth.

my short-term solution has been to make splattered earth available via the People's Co-op Bookstore (1391 Commercial Drive). it should be selling for around $1.75. feel free to pick up five copies while i'm out of town.

also, the splattered earth online sale is still on. act now! or in a few days! your call, really!


David Yezzi interview quote

Interviewer: How politicized is poetry nowadays? How much has politicization of the academy corrupted the art form?

David Yezzi: I recently participated in an exchange with another poet in the June issue of Poetry magazine in which, to my surprise, a number of old political hobbyhorses got paraded around the paddock.

The political entrenchment of the academy has been reported in all it’s gruesomeness by my colleague Roger Kimball, editor of The New Criterion. I would only add that things are equally entrenched from an aesthetic standpoint. It’s not that masters degrees in poetry, which function as excellent cash cows for universities across the country, are completely worthless. I have one myself, and I can say that they are only almost completely worthless. They do have one serious downside however: students seeking preferment begin to write like their teachers. They then graduate with a degree that is really only useful to teach creative writing in a program much like the one from which they have just graduated. Their students learn to write like they do and so on. This has had quite a deadening effect on contemporary poetry in general, I think.

read the full interview here.


shadowboxers (two versions)

a poem i thought was finished and therefore submitted to a magazine, then returned to and (hopefully) improved, only to find the original version appear in print (which, don't get me wrong, i am very greatful for). upon rereading, i'm not completely sure which version i prefer, so i figured i'd post both here:


i love a good fight
though i rarely get one

we crack each others' hearts
like eggs then wait in the
silence for the dripping of blood

some would call us masters
but masters understand spectacle
       fireworks shoot off when
       they enter the arena

we're still amateurs
touring the dusty whistle stops
covering middle america with

no stadiums
or entourages
we stumble home at night
to nurse our wounds

from the 2006 issue of The White Wall Review


i love a good fight
though i rarely get one

we crack each others' hearts
like eggs then wait in the
silence for the dripping of blood

some would call us masters
but masters understand spectacle
       fireworks shoot off when
       they enter the arena

we're still amateurs
touring the dusty whistle stops
covering middle america with
bruises and scars

no stadiums
or entourages
we stumble home at night
to nurse our wounds
and wait for the phone
to ring.


High Altitude things

High Altitude Poetry is at the Summer Dreams Reading Fest all day tomorrow, and it looks like I might be reading something around 12:20 PM.

We'll be launching the print version of our July 2007 issue, which features a series of pictures from the editors' steady descent into madness.


what is contained underneath

i just scratched off the
head of a mole so it’s
bleeding and i fear it
will become cancerous
and i will deny it until
it is too late and my body
has grown limp and rotten
inside and i will never
forgive myself for needing
so badly to discover what
can fall away - what is
contained underneath -
when i already know the
answer is this thick brown
blood which i dab at
with a square of toilet
paper and the fear that
i might get cancer that
i might rot inside
one day.

from the 2006 issue of The White Wall Review


"Pick-up" in Ghana

5:10 PM. I'm late. Unlike at home in Canada, I don't have to worry about scrambling into my soccer gear - in Ghana the heat forces you to wear shorts and a t-shirt at all times, and shin pads or cleats would get you laughed off the pitch. I burst out the door and wind my way along dusty roads to the pitch, past my neighbour's ramshackle houses and humble streetfront shops. A few people wave on the way, though the site of a lanky, sweating obruni ("foreigner" in a local language) no longer surprises as it did only a few months before. I round the corner and the game has already started. The players know that there is only a brief moment each day when the temperature is low enough (under 35°C) to play, and they aren't about to waste a minute of that time. I squat on a concrete block on the sideline, waiting to be subbed in. The ball, a dull orange, half-deflated "sports ball", is already caked in its usual thick layer of grime, as three sides of the pitch are lined with open sewers.

5:15 PM. Arriving late often results in an evening on the sideline, as the subs can sometimes outnumber the players five-fold. Today, however, I'm in luck, and the numbers are low. "Crouch! Crouch!" yells one of the players, waving me into the game. (Soon after my arrival in Ghana, I acquired the nickname “Peter Crouch,” after the Liverpool striker, a name which they assured me referred only to my pasty whiteness, and not to my facial features. I pretended to believe them.) The pitch is small and the pace is frenetic. A cloud of dust whirls around the ball as it is chipped into the air, then travels off the feet, chests and foreheads of three players before bouncing off the cinder-block goal post and in. I flail about in my attempt to keep up, though this proves impossible. There is no time to stop and think; there are no set plays in this game. It is all speed and imagination, two things which I was left lacking in from my Canadian soccer training.

When finally the ball arrives on my foot, three voices are already shouting. Everyone is always open, and every pass is possible. I move the ball conservatively back to the keeper, much to the chagrin of my three streaking teammates. The keeper, in turn, lobs the ball deftly down the length of the pitch, as if to show me how to do it. One of our strikers quickly gathers it in and drills it through the goalposts. Generously, they give me partial credit for the goal as they trot back, grins slathered across their faces.

5:35 PM. Twenty minutes in and already two goals. I am half-blind from the sweat and dirt. My legs and arms are covered with a thick layer of sewage and dirt. My skin is still white enough, however, to get the occasional “Crouchy!” call from the primary school kids who line the edges of the pitch. They come every week to watch and hope, though they rarely play. I am gasping for air and sub one of them in – eleven years younger and two feet shorter than myself, I’m still rather confident that he’ll outperform me. His name is Peter, and though slightly bitter that I showed up and stole his nickname, he forgives me a little more every time I sub him in. Immediately, he is off and running, throwing himself against opponents and chasing down every loose ball. He knows that, as a twelve-year-old amongst adults, he has little time on the pitch to prove his worth, and he takes advantage of what’s given to him.

5:45 PM. I sub back in. Miraculously, Peter is still on the pitch, beaming like a headlight. The crowd ripples with laughter, as our team’s offensive attack now consists of the two Crouches – a white guy and a child. The opposition whets their lips with anticipation; they have been waiting all game for a goal, and now see it all but ensured. Peter, though, has other plans. Lifting the ball onto one foot, he flips it over the head of his six-foot defender and slips past him. Wiping the sweat from my eyes, I stumble after the play. Three defenders converge on little Peter – they’ve clearly decided who the offensive threat is on our team. Cornered, he butts the ball off his heel, back to my waiting foot. I’ve learned my lesson, and go straight for the goal. The kick is clumsy, but it gets the job done. 3 – 0. Peter’s face explodes, all white, chiclet teeth. The celebration is abbreviated, though. Peter is subbed out and the ball is tossed back into play, the opposition more determined than ever. Peter doesn’t seem disappointed, he knows he’ll be able to play a few more minutes tomorrow.

6:00 PM. The sun has almost disappeared over the horizon. The score is 3-1, and our opponents agree, begrudgingly, to call the match. Almost immediately, the pitch is empty; the lack of streetlights encourages quick exits. The sun will be back tomorrow, though, and the pitch will be waiting.

For now, we return, contented, to our homes. I take an ice-cold shower; watch as clods of dirt spin and dissolve in the drain. Peter lays in bed, his head swirling with possibility. Slowly, the city, the continent, goes to sleep.

from the July 2007 issue of Free Kick Magazine


free kick coverage

I just found this Globe and Mail article on the inaugural issue of "Free Kick" soccer magazine, which references my story on football in Ghana that is featured therein. Something clearly got lost in translation, as neither of the details "pulled" from my story are accurate. Anyway, still pretty cool. Take a read here.

If, as the article seem to all but guarantee, the magazine collapses, I can proudly say that I helped run it into the ground.

I'll post the full story soon. If you live in BC, though, you should be able to pick up a copy at a Skytrain station. Or pick up seven, and pump up those circulation rates. Your call.

a letter to a high school newspaper from e.e. cummings

A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words.

This may sound easy. It isn't.

A lot of people think or believe or know they feel - but that's thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling - not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you're a lot of people: but the moment you feel, you're nobody-but-yourself.

To be nobody-but-yourself - in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn't a poet can possibly imagine. Why? Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time - and whenever we do it, we're not poets.

If, at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you've written one line of one poem, you'll be very lucky indeed.

And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning to blow up the world - unless you're not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.

Does this sound dismal? It isn't.

It's the most wonderful life on earth.

Or so I feel.

-e.e. cummings, from the October 26th, 1955 edition of the Ottawa Hills High School Spectator


these two dogs

these two dogs had run away
from their owner and into my
yard and it was my duty to catch
them so i raced behind them with
a stick in my hand, yelling


and they stopped long enough
for me to make a charge at them.
i missed of course and they ran
across the yard yapping and
snapping and i tried to soothe
them by noting the accuracy in
my comments but they would
have none of it so we ran for
another half-hour until they'd
finally had enough and wandered
home while i shouted

         BITCH'S BITCH!

after which my neighbour stuck
his head out his window and
gave me that look i usually get
when i don't cut my grass for
a couple of weeks and i wasn't
quite sure if he thought i was
referring to him, though i figured
a little ambiguity was probably
good for a person.

ambiguity never shits on your lawn.

from the July 2005 issue of High Altitude Poetry

more of my poems from HAP here.


Wells review

my review of Zachariah Wells' Unsettled is now online at PoetryReviews.ca. take a gander here.

also, marta and i have now moved to commercial drive. if you're in the neighbourhood, come say hi. the library is available, as is this wicked reading bench.