Marcus McCann Keeps it Open
I was tuned to CBC radio earlier tonight (minus one personal acceptability point), listening to Q (minus 2) with guest host Jonathon Torrens (-3) when I was surprised to hear a tease that Marcus McCann was about to go on air (click to listen) to discuss Canada’s polygamy laws alongside a Toronto anthropologist. This surprised me because, as I understood it, Marcus McCann was an excellent young poet from Ottawa, and not a radio pundit. His debut, Soft Where, made the Lampert list this year. I liked it. I liked his earlier chapbooks even more, if you can get your hands on them, they’re worth the read.
It turns out that McCann is both a poet and an occasional activist for polyamory and liberalized marriage laws. Polygamy isn’t something I’ve thought much about, but I’ve generally been against it and quite content with it being illegal. Much of this opinion was derived from the fact that a notably euphoriphobic branch of pseudo-Christianity has something of a history with it, and I’m pretty much on board with the banning of anything they like. I’ll admit, though, that after listening to the show, I was really swayed by what Marcus was saying. It didn’t make me personally want to go out and be someone’s fourth husband, but it did make me wonder what exactly we were gaining by limiting people’s freedoms with the use of such a vague and ultimately unenforceable law.
Marcus was helped in a lot of ways by the incompetence of his debating partner, some anthropologist with big ideas about how if polygamy were legal, everyone would want to do it, and this would create a new class of desperately single young men. He then pointed to a (I wish I was making this up) longitudinal study about how married people committed a greater number of violent crimes before marriage than after. Let’s just take that one assumption aside and think it over for a bit… Among the multiple logical fallacies in the sentence, the gentleman failed to say anything about how violent crime is, statistically speaking, more the domain of younger adults. As is, of course, bachelorhood.
It was particularly disconcerting to hear the anthropologist turn his macrostatistical eye to the entirety of the population, with all the candor and fear of a social conservative spouting off about how gay marriage will lead to plummeting birth numbers. As if, just because it’s legal, everyone will start to do it. He mentioned the insult to feminism posed by men having multiple wives, but never considered the alternative, equally likely, situation of women having multiple husbands. Or groups of polyamorous citizens creating sexualized cohabitations of their choosing. Or 99.8% of the country thinking that polygamy wasn’t going to meet their intimacy needs in the long-term, and deciding to sleep with only one person at a time.
I don’t want to talk too much about polyamory, though. It’s not really something I care about. But I like that Marcus McCann cares about it as much as he does. And I like when poets do well in other public forums, ones beyond the sanctity of the country’s various poetry cults. It was exciting to listen to him walk all over the other guy’s weird logic, in as mainstreamish a forum as poets ever get. Or maybe I’m reading too far into the proceedings, because I wanted the home team to win. Who’s to say. Go listen for yourself.
Rhetoric is, after all, one of poetry’s many grandparents. How many grandparents, you ask? Well, little man, let’s just say that grandpa knew a lot of ladies….Explore posts in the same categories: Poems in the Wider World, Radio