Yesterday’s ferocious melt. Arms bare. In the street. The geese arriving. First robins this week. Little crocus buds, seemingly up in a day, the ground appearing at the edges of a yard still a snowfield. People outside together, talking, their faces softened. A brief moment.
I walked outside without a coat, that first unbelieving feeling, with the birds swooping all around, cardinals and blue jays—red laser, blue laser—the grackles’ rusty hinges, massive gathering of starlings, noisy kestrel with designs. The temperature was much too high, flood watch around the water bodies. This morning mild and rainy. A mud puddle tried to take my shoe. All the dogs a wet brown colour from the belly down.
Fast Commute makes its official debut on Tuesday. My last book came out six years ago, also in March. I was living close to Deshkan Ziibi (Antler River, Thames River, London, Ontario), teaching way too many classes at Fanshawe College, enough for me to be on the union. Waking this morning to hear that a college-teacher strike has been called off last minute. Binding arbitration.
March is a hard month. Lethargy and intensity. Root vegetables, winter greens. Cuspy. Not ready, and nothing but ready. The world this book enters into.
Fast Commute’s two launches will be virtual, so you can attend from wherever you are. We can all attend together, muster up some late-game screen-based conviviality while those birds are out there doing their busy work. And I would love for you to attend.
The first launch: Monday, March 28, 7 p.m. EST, with Sheri Benning, sponsored by Type Books in Toronto. (Register here.) Sheri and I will read from our books—hers is called Field Requiem and is witheringly good—and then we’ll have a talk, we’ll somehow summon words for this ailing world in the midst of March happening. And Type will have some signed books available; if you’re in the city, stop by and pick up your copy.
The second launch: Wednesday, March 30, also at 7 p.m. EST, with my fellow McClelland & Stewart poets Madhur Anand, Tolu Oloruntoba, and Phoebe Wang, sponsored by the Toronto International Festival of Authors. (Register here.) The event promises readings from each of our books, all of us together for you on-screen. And then, of course, get out there, maybe in shirtsleeves, maybe online, and buy the books.
For you, now, here, I’ve got a first brief reading from this long poem, coming to you from the backyard, birdsong and vehicle traffic, some lines for Deshkan Ziibi, a lament and an ode, from and for a place where some of Fast Commute’s first lines came to be.
Much thanks to all of you who’ve bought signed copies directly from me already. You snapped up my inventory in a day, but I’ve got more and if you’d like your own signed copy of Fast Commute, please send me a note and we can exchange particulars and I’ll put one in the post.
A good deal of this book takes place in not-yet-spring, all the world a mud puddle. I like that this book’s life starts in a season not quite emerged.