Sunday, December 30, 2007

Let the sun fall / like a hammer. He didn't even get mentioned in most of the dailies, but at the same time Louise Arbour was made a Companion and Walter Gretzky a Member, DG Jones was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

What can you do? Dozens of titles conferred on a single day, right? An editor's got to pick what's interesting. Oh, another poet? Great. Wait, did you say Walter Gretzky? I hope the Sherbrooke Record (whose editor is former Xtra managing editor Eleanor Brown) finds some room in the paper for a profile of Jones, surely one of Canada's very finest.

Listening to Satoshi

A stone, he says, is a bag of sand
You can cut it like a loaf
with a diamond saw

Crazy man, he finds
barn lights, a winter's dawn
driving to the stone works

As well piss in a pail
except the toilet affords, shit
idiot graffiti

Jackhammers, stone saws, sandblasters
metal on stone, chain life and
flatbed, din, an

eight hour shift, say it, he does
time in pandaemonium
industrial rage

red-eyed with granite dust
--to make this silk shard, this hard
silent line

--DG Jones, The Floating Garden (Coach House, 1995)

Jones, born in Bancroft ON in 1929, taught at Université de Sherbrooke for years, I gather, although according to the press release he lives in North Hatley, not far from Sherbrooke. He's got a good number of books under his belt, including Under the Thunder the Flowers Light up the Earth (what a title!), which earned him the GG in 1978. Jones's monumentally consonant word choices (“shit / idiot graffiti”) are among the most arresting Canada has produced. A lovely addition to the list.

Oh, speaking of the Governor General, 35 “notables” were asked to pick their favourite book of 2007 for the Globe and Mail, Michaëlle Jean among them. Since the project was probably overshadowed by the death Benizir Bhutto (who, from the grave, recommends The Kite Runner), it's easy to have missed the pro-poetry vibe of the recommendations. for instance, whether by design or by editorial pruning, Michaëlle Jean's selections were the two GG award winners in poetry. Not Ondaatje's Divisidaro or Karolyn Smardz Frost's I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad. Instead she (or her assistant, publicist,whathaveyou) picked Don Domanski's All Our Wonder Unavenged and Serge Patrice Thibodeau's Seul on est. There were others (Zoe Whittall picked Elizabeth Bachinsky's Home of Sudden Service, for instance) but I can't remember and the feature doesn't seem to be online. Hmm.