where 10 people gather

a bird of prey and some pigeons of prayer
protest they too are female

when 4mg makes mental fireworks stop
living can resume its vigil

clear articulation is a symptom of privilege
stumbling on a forced “tell me more”

what we have learned is a chute, a straw
in the damp crack between lips which open, incendiary

3rd generation inheritance bowls, earrings
were sourced from Chinese kid factories

I imitate the cat, sprawl
and by chance my shoulder pops back into joint

a tumble of grumbles.
why shoot a breeze that’s already emptied of you?

swat midges. did you know
a cloud the size of a bus yields under half a cup of rain?

Questions and Answers

Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (e.g. books, films, art, websites)?

A young poet should read: The Other 23 & a half hours or Everything you wanted to know that your MFA didn’t teach you by Catherine Owen (Wolsak & Wynn, 2015), rob mclennan’s blog http://robmclennan.blogspot.ca/ for what is happening now in CanLit and http://www.languageisavirus.com/ for exercises, particularly Bernadette Mayer’s.

What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?

I had been fatigued and foggy-headed, unable to muster energy to concentrate to compose. Reading Stuart Ross’ A Hamburger in a Gallery (Punchy Poetry, 2015) reminded me of other routes in to creating. I used his own poetry bootcamp methods on his poem. In this case I used his poem on p. 41, called The Only Synagogue.

What poetic techniques did you use in this poem? How much attention do you pay to form and metre?

This exercise is not far-fetched. Pretend that your printer skipped every second line of a poem and in-fill what is missing. When you then erase the original text, you have only your own words which echo the movement and themes of the original framework in a dialogue. His poem was one stanza but my leaps felt more like a ghazal so I structured it into couplets. Sometimes the pulling away of scaffolding lines breaks syntax but in this case it seemed to keep its integrity and create a focal point for thoughts that otherwise hadn’t had an excuse or use for expression.

This poem “where 10 people gather” originally appeared in Emerging Scholars 2. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 228-229 (Spring/Summer 2016): 150.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.