Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content


Entry archive:

Garry Thomas Morse
Garry Thomas Morse

Outstanding: Garry Thomas Morse, Ken Norris & Jack Spicer Add to ...

British intellectual glit-literatzi Cyril Connolly, in a particularly bitter id-fit wit-snit over some perceived slight or other, once thundered that, as far as he was concerned, all poets amount to a mere jabber of "jackals snarling over a dried-up well."

P'raps. P'raps not. The important thing? Connolly provides food for thought, says quite a lot with few words. IMO, a jackal-designate, p'raps, I kinda like the idea poets still possess so much power . . . ah, no matter. Jackals come, jackals go, Jack Spicer's work will live forever. Don't take my word for it; rather, mosey on over to Talonbooks where you shall come upon one of the finest online interviews I hungrily gobbled these past few years, just posted. Delectable.

Poet, critic, anthologist and professor Ken Norris gently interrogates comin'-upper Garry Thomas Morse (pictured above) concerning his soon-to-be-huge work in honour of Jack Spicer, After Jack . How encouraging, really, small and distinguished presses still do the good poetry work. Talonbooks? One of the best. You can read about Morse Code at the poet / novelist's 'site; or, if you feel particularly flush, can enjoy other links found on the press's various pages.

The interview? A wee sample ought to convince you GTM's got talent to burn while Norris hits all the right top notes in a medley of a pair of poets discoursing intelligently on the work underhand as well as gloriously grappling with that which matters, that which makes a difference: A wee sample, the following issues from Garry Thomas Morse:

. . . You have to approach the concept in Spicerian terms. I have heard he saw himself as Merlin (or even Mordred) in a poetry kingdom he saw as corrupt, which is likely how he perceived poetic communities. Even now, Spicer's lectures and influence in Vancouver are overshadowed by the 1963 Poetry Conference, although I think his lectures are far more coherent. My understanding is that he saw [Charles]Olson and [Robert]Creeley as Arthur and Lancelot figures in his poetic micro/macrocosm. I always refer to this as the imaginary turf war, where poets undergo these private battles and torments which matter so little to the public. I am not indicating they should matter. I think we tend to squander our energies over trifles is all. This is a human story, not merely a poetic one.

I just realized that at the start of this interview, I was a proponent for the imaginary turf war and at this stage I am complaining about its carnage. I am certain hypocrisy is also a key part of my poetic form. With such duality principles, it is hard to take a stance on anything, truly. Always the ocean of daily distraction to interrupt and interject, always churning, churning . . .

What I am saying is that Spicer used dedications as admonitions, as roasts, as kvetches, although this concept might have troubled him. It's an impolite way of elbowing someone and egging them on to shape up. I am aware in my own book that I am poking folk I know in avuncular fashion, parodying formal structuralist poetry, flavour of the day pop culture poetry, avant-garde pretensions, self-conscious dramaturgy and even my own former Bukowski-isms . . .

A fine exchange, it covers a lot of territory; but, one still wants to know who writes "flavour of the day pop culture poetry." Gord Downie? Shane Koyczan? Jewel? Mmmfffmmfmfmf :) . . .

Report Typo/Error

Next story




Most popular videos »

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular