Keywords and key phrases often capture the heart of a poem.
Blossom Thom, Montréal poet and writer, reflects in “Auntie Ida’s Thanksgiving Blessing:”
Our truth grounds us. Our roots
dig deep, searching for magma to
fuel our warmth or to burn those
who expect us to accept their
outdated stance of ignorance.
Her poems offer a lesson in unravelling history, as well, for those who want to look up the names referenced. Please do, as it was an educational experience for us.
In “Ghosts of Mercy,” Cora Siré, poet, novelist, and now revealed to be a screenwriter as well, states:
My beacon beams as I pan the waters
to let them know I’m here, careful to disguise
distress, my shivering. The sliver of moon
floats detached. I too hide my fears.
In this significant departure from the beaten path by our editorial board, we chose to dispense with the “theme statement,” which we have been using consistently for some time now. Instead, we chose “Just Poetry” as our invitation to submit works. We were flooded with submissions and, given the numbers, some significant works had to be set aside. We do have some of Montréal’s best-known poets here in this issue – and that is not meant to exclude other well-known poets that Montréal has brought forth. In fact, this city has spawned some of the best poetry shindigs on a regular and weekly basis, be it the Lectures Logos Readings, Speakup, Lapalabrava, the Argo reading Series, the Visual Arts Centre Poetry Readings, and several live venues that were forced to go virtual, due to the pandemic.
We have a riot of colours and signals, including the “slivers of moon and magma” flowing all over in words, music and ballads – including one performed by Montréal’s Ian Ferrier, the founder of many poetry and performance initiatives in this city. Ian performed live at Serai’s 32nd anniversary celebration and has provided us here with the words for his performance of “Emma’s Country” – a moving and eerie portrayal of the plight of Gaspé fishermen. It is the video of his performance that we have selected for this issue.
We have outstanding poets like Louise Carson, Catherine Watson and veteran Montréal curator and prolific poet Ilona Martonfi in the house. And then there is Endre Farkas – going back to the Véhicule Press era of #vehiculepoets – who asks in “Good Friday” why the rich must casually complain about the stench of poverty everywhere. In “Landscape of Abandonment,” Dinh Le Doan, a poet and engineer from Beaconsfield (Québec), traces the trees’ abandonment of “their hard-working leaves to the cruel November winds.”
Widely-published poet and writer Savita Singh, a former McGill University alumna now living and teaching in New Delhi, dedicates her poems “Palestine” and “Autocracy” to the memory of the late Prof. Sam Noumoff, a supporter of Serai who had contributed articles for us in the past. Savita’s poems have been translated from Hindi by Medha Singh, who is herself a well-known and extraordinary poet.
Always ready to take poetic license, we couldn’t resist including a short story by novelist Mayank Bhatt in the mix. “Activist” plunges us into the hidden life of a young woman fighting for the rights of Bombay’s destitute, and a rookie reporter who doesn’t know when to stop.
Former Montréaler Michael Mirolla – prize-winning writer, poet, film scenarist, novelist, and the cornerstone of the premier Toronto-based publisher, Guernica Editions – has provided us with his surrealistic, magical essence in a clutch of poems that are many-layered, technology-inquisitioning, and cheerful as well.
And we are not at all done! We have an extraordinary review of Jocelyne Dubois’ new poetry compilation by Montréal poet Hugh Hazelton. And the indefatigable Maya Khankhoje provides us with an extensive review of When the Light of the World was Subdued, our Songs came Through, a Norton Anthology of Native Nations poetry.
And finally, an absorbing review of Louise Carson’s Dog Poems and Carolyn Marie Souaid’s The Eleventh Hour, by Montréal musician and much-loved troubadour, Brian Campbell.
And was there some discussion as to whether we have a Montréal bias?