Lullabye for Toronto

June 29, 2017

IMG_7182 JA couple of years ago, I began working on a little song writing project. It never came together, and only one lyric from that period ended up in Shut Up Slow Down Let Go Breathe. It’s a found poem of TTC subway announcements arranged into rhyming stanzas, called Lyric for a Little Lullabye:

Lyric for a Little Lullabye

We are currently experiencing a delay
westbound at Bay.
Efforts to resume
regular service
are underway.

Do not rush when you hear
the subway door chimes.
You may experience
longer than normal travel times.

We are currently experiencing a delay
westbound at Bay.
Efforts to resume
regularly scheduled service
are underway.

We apologise for the delay.
A response crew is on its way.

Awhile back, I offered the Lyric to songwriters, if anyone else heard the music in it. There have been a few attempts, and I realize it’s difficult to find the emotional core of a found poem about subway delays, but I’m kind of partial to this one by Brian Hoppie, which appeared online yesterday:


…I had been doing this gumboot-in-a-washing-machine lyric for six or eight years, and I really like that sound in poetry—I will always love it. When I first started publishing, my goal was to maximize the density of certain hard sounds (P, B, K, T, D, G, especially). But it’s a lyric mode that suits certain subjects better than others: physical labor, big heavy things (a condo tower, exercise equipment), anonymous sex, rural and pastoral subjects, performative masculinity, awkhward social interactions . . . It’s like, I could never write a poem about a placid lake in that voice. Here’s what I’m talking about…

This interview was conducted mostly while I was in the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa, in the days leading up the release of Shut Up Slow Down Let Go Breathe. I’m feeling very grateful for rob mclennan‘s generous interview style, and his kind words in the lead-off paragraph.

Read the whole interview here. Photo by N. Maxwell Lander


Ashley Bouman had some nice things to say about Shut Up Slow Down Let Go Breathe in the June 15, 2017 issue of Northumberland Today. She writes:

McCann’s work is a must for any lover of poems. Gritty, truthful and witty, each piece reads well. These are poems about the everyday, poems that are “relatable” in so many ways.

McCann writes eloquently. In some instances it is like a diary written in sonnets; in others, we get several words clustered together as speculation and commentary on his life. All of it is raw and real. You feel the emotion on every page, in each word. The symbolism is outstanding and the word-play is very imaginative.

Find the full piece here.