Make Mine McFadden

b y Stuart Ross

A couple of weeks ago, Lillian Necakov, Jim Smith, Nicholas Power and I read at the St. Clair/Silverthorn Library, where Lillian is head librarian. The four of us have known each other since the 1980s, and we’ve read in various assortments, but never all of us together, so it was an evening full of both nostalgia and new experience. The venue was a nifty space on the second floor, above the library itself, and as we waited an extra fifteen minutes to begin — the whole neighbourhood had been cordoned off by police (presumably not for the reading), and we wanted to give people time to arrive — I peered out the window and saw David McFadden walking along the sidewalk toward the library.

One of the poems I had planned to read was largely about Dave, and now I wondered if I should read it, after all. I never expected him to be there! Nicholas, who was also acting as MC, started off the night, and he began one of his poems with epigraph by McFadden. Dave didn’t seem to squirm a bit, but now I really was hesitant to read that poem. A week earlier, Dave had launched his newest book, from Insomniac Press, Why Are You So Long and Sweet? Collected Long Poems of David W. McFadden, which I edited. (I’ve also had the profound honour of editing his 2008 Mansfield Press collection, Be Calm, Honey, and 2007’s Insomniac omnibus, Why Are You So Sad? Selected Poems of David W. McFadden.)

Well, my turn to read came next, and I decided to go through my plan: I read the long poem that contains a section on Dave. It got a lot of laughs, but I didn’t get to see how McFadden himself had reacted.

Up next was Lillian, and, to everyone’s amazement, she too had a poem in which Dave appeared, and Jim Smith, who read last, also invoked Dave in the introduction to one of his poems. It was a quadruple-hitter. Dave seemed delighted.

Afterwards, we all gathered at the Gem for a bit of dinner. “Dave,” I said, “I just want you to know that this doesn’t happen at every reading you don’t get to. It’s not like every reading in Toronto has people reading poems about you.”

McFadden looked at me and offered up his trademark grin. That grin that suggests he knows something that we don’t know.

Stuart Ross is the editor of his fiction and poetry imprint at Mansfield, and is the co-editor, with Stephen Brockwell, of Rogue Stimulus: A Stephen Harper Holiday Anthology for a Prorogued Parliament (Mansfield Press, 2010).

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply