One Could Do Worse than Yield

Hey everybody.

I write to you from a room full of baggage and excitement; I’m going home to Nova Scotia for a week beginning tomorrow and have packed my things for a quick hop from Parkdale to Billy Bishop Airport (via the office, for a few hours), then to Halifax-Stanfield, then to my mother’s place outside Wolfville. A fun fact about Wolfville, Nova Scotia: It used to be called Mud Creek, Nova Scotia before a long-dead mayor’s daughter took a trip to Upper Canada somewhere and, when asked to identify her hometown by name, was met by the ridicule of her peers. Coming home in tears, the daughter convinced her father to rename the town something that didn’t suggest quite so much dirtiness. Thus, Wolfville. Assumedly, the residents of the time thought the image of a village populated by wolves was somehow less unpleasant than one where objects were in danger of getting muddy. There it is: the entire Atlantic Canadian ethic, collapsed into one anecdote.

I’m excited about the trip, but also sad to miss a couple of Toronto events I hope others will attend in my stead. Chief among them is likely this visit from poet and Harriet blogger Anselm Berrigan to Bookthug headquarters on Saturday the 18th. There’s a reading at the bookstore after the class. Attendance at the class is, I think, not a prerequisite for attending the reading. The reading is at 8, at Of Swallows, on College St.

A couple days before that, Antony Di Nardo is launching his very Vox-approved new book, “Alien, Correspondent” at Ben McNally Books on Bay St., 6pm to 8pm. Everyone should be reading this book. Here’s a link to the interview I did with Tony a couple months ago. I’m too tired to pile on adjectives right now but trust me when I say this: whatever you’d consider the height of recommendation is what I’d be giving you right now if I could just gather the energy and didn’t need to find out where my fucking cell phone charger was so I can be there when things go to hell at work and they need to call me on my vacation!

Anyway, where was I? If hypothetical, non-vacationing me wasn’t read-out from Thursday and then Saturday, I’d probably also want to make an appearance at the launch of Daniel Allen Cox’s new book Krakow Melt at The Ossington on Friday the 17th. Other readers include Lisa Foad, Derek McCormack, and Nathaniel G. Moore, which frankly seems like a dangerous amount of attitude for one reading. It’s free. And it happens at 7:30. And I just found my phone charger. This is me, balancing narratives.

If you’re wondering why I’m headed to NS in the first place, I’m delighted to tell you it’s for my step-father Charles “Chuck” Goddard’s induction into the St. Mary’s University Sports Hall of Fame. So, if you’re a Haligonian and a Huskies Fan, you could do far worse by me than to show up at the ceremony, which is taking place at Tower Courtside Lounge on the SMU campus at 9 a.m. It’s free. There’s also a dinner that evening in celebration of the inductees. The dinner costs $200. I think we both know which one you’re going to, don’t we?

While in Nova Scotia this coming week, there’s a excellent chance I’ll have the time to both blog and eat some pot roast, the latter of which reminds me of one of my favourite Nova Scotian poems. My experiences will likely be similar to those transcribed herein, though the great Vox Pop health kick of 2010 likely precludes the gravy, and possibly the bread. And I hear there are many calories in nostalgia, anyway.

Pot Roast
by Mark Strand

I gaze upon the roast,
that is sliced and laid out
on my plate
and over it
I spoon the juices
of carrot and onion.
And for once I do not regret
The passage of time.

I sit by a window
that looks
on the soot-stained brick of buildings
and do not care that I see
no living thing—not a bird,
not a branch in bloom,
not a soul moving
in the rooms
behind the dark panes.
These days when there is little
to love or to praise
one could do worse
than yield
to the power of food.
So I bend

to inhale
the steam that rises
from my plate, and I think
of the first time
I tasted a roast
like this.
It was years ago
in Seabright,
Nova Scotia;
my mother leaned
over my dish and filled it
and when I finished
filled it again.
I remember the gravy,
its odor of garlic and celery,
and sopping it up
with pieces of bread.

And now
I taste it again.
The meat of memory.
The meat of no change.
I raise my fork in praise,
and I eat.

from Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf).

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Explore posts in the same categories: Events, Poems in the Wider World, Toronto Poetry Cult, What Jake Did

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