Well... Here I am...
Upon sitting down to write this, I've actually realized how difficult it is to write about oneself without feeling like an egotistical twat. It feels stupid to explain anything about myself or this book, for if you already know me, it would be laughable to do so, and if we haven't yet connected, you'll likely find enough in the book to get a taste of who I am. Therefor, with this in mind, I've decided to avoid that topic altogether (the topic of me, in this case) deciding instead to share a few insights of my own into the book and my thoughts on it. I know that I'll get to share some wonderful conversations with a good deal of you, specifically regarding what was behind some of the poems and which, out of the bunch, my favourites are. But I also realize that I may not get to talk to many of you in depth, or even at all, and (perhaps with that small dash of egotistical nature showing) I imagine some of you may be interested just enough to find yourself on this page and digging into them. If this is, in fact, the case, then you're in luck!
I'm going to outline some of the poems that I find particularly interesting, and talk through a few key focuses (without so much depth as to ruin them) within each one. You can identify the poems however you want, perhaps with the lines that are the most evocative to you; however, for me, and the purpose of this note, I will simply identify each by its first line. This is how they make themselves known in my head, and it is in this same form that I will present them to you. With that, I'll just say that I hope you enjoy...
I love the small autistic girl
This poem is one of the first in the book that is a depiction of what was my everyday life in Montreal. Each morning, as I would take the metro near 6:00 AM, on would walk this wonderful little girl off to school or somewhere else for the day. She was always wearing the same little red jacket, and had to stand in the same spot of the metro (holding onto the handles of the single seats, for all you Montreal metro pros out there.) No matter how busy the aisle or empty the car, she would find herself stood with her grip tightly held to the curving metal handle behind the lone seats on one side. If it so happened that the seat was empty, she would not take it, preferring to stand instead. But if the seat was in fact taken, she would often find herself leaning over the shoulder of the individual sat there, unable to strip her view eyes from the pages of the book they were reading, or the games they played on their phone screen. She was wonderful. Magical. Her view on life was so foreign to that of all the others who were squished in beside her. From her, I learned so much about my own vulnerability and self-consciousness, finding humour in the roles that we so often elect ourselves to play. Each morning she would remind me of a particular individuality and confidence in myself; all just with the small frame and sure mind of a ten-year old girl.
My love do you remember when
This is a poem for a friend; one of my most cherished and loved friends. The premise is from a theory we had about the atoms of our souls reuniting with one another after millennia apart. I will say no more than this. It was based on a novel that we both adore, The Complete Cosmicomics, by Italo Calvino. If you haven't read the book, I encourage you to do so. Only in doing so can one really grasp what I think is a very touching poem, and if I'm going to be honest, one of my personal favourites. Plus, it's just a goddamn beautiful piece of literature.
So you'd like to drive a metro train?
This poem, I understand, is not a piece of literary genius. Nor is it really that hard to distill into its core message. It has no particularly deep set of layers to it, nor does it really even follow the syllable structure or rhyme scheme well. It's really pushing its shitty limits on all fronts; I know this. Trust me critics, I really do. But all of this aside, I can't help but freaking love this poem. Maybe it's the characters. Maybe it's the message. Maybe it's just because I'm a narcissistic twat writing about how much I like my own poetry on a website about myself in which no one is going to visit. But even if it's any of these, I don't care. I love this poem with all its imperfections and poetic insecurities. The narrator is just too similar to myself in this case, and the completeness of this vision that gets tied up in the final two lines, well it's just too concise and hard hitting for me not to adore it. I understand that a lot of people may pass it by without second thought, or that a more critical eye may take well to taking it apart, but with this one, I think we all should do a little better job of travelling our own darkened paths. It's scary as hell, but at least we can be aware of why we chose driving our metro trains thereafter.
The men who talk in tailor shops
Like many of the poems in this book, this was a real situation that I found myself in. Much like the poem's story outlines, I was getting my pants hemmed by a man in his small tailor shop. When he ushered me into the changing room, I heard the conversation that is captured within those verses. The owner who was assisting me began talking to a man who seemed to fit every cliche that mafia and mobster movies have laid out for us. This tall, thick, seemingly Italian man with his shirt buttoned down at his chest and gold rings spread across the knuckles of his fingers, began pressuring the shop owner in a low voice in a (very poor) attempt for me not to hear. On one hand, it was humorous, on another, tense, and somewhere between the two, I found it wonderfully representative of life's wants and worries as a whole. Oh, if only life could be so clear as it was that day. For after hearing their conversation, the only thing on my mind was paying and leaving as fast as I could.
If cursing's for the passionate
This one is short, simple, and drawn directly from my morning metro rides (as I'm realizing so many of the poems in this book are). Waking up and catching the metro as early as I did, I was privy to the train with numerous labourers and construction workers that fill Montreal's downtown. In work boots and hard hats, there was something admirable and and romantic about them. I come from a family that made their business in construction and building materials, so whenever I am around characters such as these, there is a sense of childhood comfort that I feel, as if this type of work and conducting oneself is honourable in a way that is so often overlooked nowadays. Growing up in a small town, I can cuss, joke, and talk shit like the best of them, and this is something I truly admire in individuals. Life, in a lot of respects, has lost its rough edge, but these characters seem to hold onto it. It's such that like to write poems about how lovely plain reality is, and this reality of theirs (I think) is one with a very unconventional sense of poetry about it.
An ode to all us normal folk
This one's just for fun.
The men of bonaventure station
As a poem that weighs rather heavily on my heart, this is one that is very Montreal-specific. For all those that have been to Bonaventure station, especially in the morning, I need not explain what the scene looks like. What was interesting for me, was how attached I grew to all these men over my days of repeatedly passing by them and seeing their same tired eyes and aching limbs. These were men with next to nothing in terms of conventional wealth. To them, I may have had what seemed like the world. But I slowly began to see these men had something so much more, and over time, I found myself looking up to them, as opposed to the other way around. The men of Bonaventure station are an admirable few if you stop to take note, and I encourage anyone visiting or living in Montreal to make sure that they take an early morning walk through Bonaventure station should they find themselves interested to find out why.
Why'd you have to wear all black?
This is a poem about an architect. Actually, a few of them are.
Describing now, this love we had
This poem, though it was written originally for one person, signifies a lot more than just that individual. It's at the end for a good number of reasons, but the one that I find the most important is this: it's a poem not just about loving someone, or something, but about appreciating that thing for whatever short amount of time it is there. If there's one thing that Montreal has put on display for me more than anything else, is that all the most wonderful aspects of life are plagued by impermanence, but that this does not have to be to their detriment. Just as summer fades to fall, then autumn to spring, these moments of impermanence come back around in different forms and with different attributes about themselves. It's at the end because it is the death of one of these cycles, but it doesn't take away from how much I was able to enjoy it while it was there. If there's one thing Montrealers are damn good at, it's taking advantage of good weather when it decides to come around, and finding ways to enjoy many winter days that would rip away optimism from even the strongest of individuals. There is a resilience here, and along with it, an appreciation. If this past year and the poems that have come along with it have taught me anything, it is all within this poem. We may as well be vulnerable as all hell and love like there's no tomorrow, because who knows, there might not be. I'd much rather go out with my heart on my sleeve than hidden in my chest. Therefor, here's a bunch of poems I wrote in Montreal. They're here because they had to be.