Writer in Residence

Pop

By Barry Dempster

Kimmy Beach knows her way around pop culture. She’s written books about James Cagney, Paul McCartney and, most recently, “The Last Temptation of Bond” where she delves into the world’s favourite secret agent’s sexual magnetism. More fingers are slid inside more women than in a Henry Miller novel. But just in case you mistake this for some kind of girls’ circle jerk, Bond’s women ultimately have the last word. When I mention that this is one of my favourite poetry books from last year, some of the looks I’ve received have been a combination of confusion and condescension.

Why does my jazz pianist friend hate everything not jazz or classical? To his ears, Janis Joplin is just a scream. And Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” is a crime against mankind. Many of my film buff buddies went pale when I said loudly and proudly that I loved Lee Daniels’ juicy adaptation of Pete Dexter’s “The Paperboy.” Only a populist would write about astrological love signs or Lady Gaga wearing raw beef.

Thank goodness for Jeanette Lynes who wrote an entire collection of poetry about pop singer Dusty Springfield. You never know what you’re going to find in an Elizabeth Bachinsky poem; her “I.M. 5” starts out by trying to imagine Alice Munro porn.

A poem is about the possibilities of language and the magic of compression. How you get there shouldn’t matter, whether riding on the shoulders of Sisyphus or Superman or Bruno Mars. Does a botanist look down her nose at a daisy? Does an opera singer ever shake her hips like Shakira? How many readers have already clucked their tongues and stopped reading this?

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.


Barry Dempster, twice nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award, is the author of fourteen poetry collections, two novels, The Ascension of Jesse Rapture and The Outside World, two volumes of short stories and a children’s book. His collection The Burning Alphabet won the Canadian Authors’ Association Chalmers Award for Poetry in 2005. In 2010, he was a finalist for the Ontario Premiers Award for Excellence in the Arts. He is also Acquisitions Editor for Brick Books.

For more information about Invisible Dogs please visit the Bricks Books website.

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