Winter of Weak Welcome

August 1, 2013

Two McCann poems have homes on the internet: a slab of Winter of Weak Welcome is part of rob mclennan’s “Tuesday poems”, a series he’s curating over at Dusie’s blog (although really, instead read Erín Moure’s Birthday: “Trials were alphabets, I found myself guilty, I found myself alone”); and secondly, Cover Letter at the Puritan (although really, instead read Ben Ladouceur’s Ox.)


I wrote this piece for the students at Kipling CI — after I had the pleasure of spending three sessions with them talking about metaphor as part of the Diaspora Dialogues program. I’m not totally sure what the poem means, but then again, that’s sort of the point.

Read: “Wreck of a Street Racer, Etobicoke” by Marcus McCann


Video by Glenn Nuotio.

June 22, 2012

Over at Xtra, Billeh Nickerson reviews The Hard Return. Here’s a bit of what he has to say:

Perhaps I’m going out on a limb, but I’ll speculate that no other book of poetry published in Canada this year will include meditations on dunk tanks (that’s dunk without an r, you party animals), pissing in public, saxophones, orgasms and puffy coats. This is a good thing. Poetry is too often predictable. This book is not.

Marcus McCann will be the 2012 recipient of the EJ Pratt medal for poetry (not to be confused with the EJ Pratt Poetry Award in Newfoundland.) Read the letter below:


…and in other news, check out the blog of Cameron Anstee, who grapples with having his words filched for a McCann cento in The Hard Return:

It is somewhat horrifying to be reminded of this older work, and even more horrifying to think that Marcus had looked at it relatively recently. I remember writing and laying out this chapbook during my final summer working for the City of Ottawa in School Zone Traffic Safety in the Traffic and Parking Department (it was more exciting than it sounds!). I think the layout has held up more strongly than the poems, but I still have a soft spot for the poem Marcus plundered….

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, rob mclennan turned his attention to The Hard Return in May. Here’s what he had to say:

Over the months since his first trade collection, Soft Where (Ottawa ON: Chaudiere Books, 2009), former Ottawa poet Marcus McCann’s gymnastic poems have become nearly bulletproof, composing lines one can bounce both quarter or a round off. His second collection, The Hard Return (Toronto ON: Insomniac Press, 2012), one of the final season of Paul Vermeersch’s tenure as poetry editor (before heading off to Wolsak & Wynn) writes of dislocation and location, writing the tension between a series of opposite positions. The density of McCann’s lines are incredibly packed, and move at lightspeed, nearly light-headedly so.

Thanks, rob!

The Hard Return, the follow-up to 2009’s Soft Where, is available now. From the back of the book: The Hard Return is a broken list of metaphors for the human heart. Or it’s a troubling elegy for a disposable world. Or it’s something much less serious than that. Alternating between loving descriptions of twenty-first-century excess and awkward social situations, Marcus McCann’s poems are sincere and ironic, sad and half-joking, often in the same instant. Buy it here.

Roundup of some recent links: Marcus McCann interviews Judith Butler in Xtra (and in Briarpatch); Patrick Connors interviews McCann before his reading at the Brockton Writers Series; photos taken at Versefest and Proud of Toronto; plus, some short essays: an appreciation of the poet Nicholas Lea in the Globe and Mail, and reviews of David Bateman and Hiromi Goto’s Wait Until Late Afternoon, Martin Duberman’s A Saving Remnant and Jen Currin’s The Inquisition Yours.

“The poem miscarried. I’m not sure why, exactly, but I couldn’t seem to hammer out a structure for the poem. Eventually, it just died on the operating room table. Luckily, every cadaver is full of organs.”

Allan Brown reviewed a recent McCann chapbook in the Spring issue of Jones Av, along with a handful of other above/ground chapbooks, including work by Marilyn Irwin, Cameron Anstee and rob mclennan. The verdict? It’s a little professorial. From the review:

“Marcus McCann plays more academic literary games in Town in a long day of leaving,” writes Brown, and, “sometimes the teacher cracks a joke, as in his re-arrangement of the pop song ‘Crazy.'”

What makes a McCann poem is the relative ease with which he twists words, phrases and ideas. He turns them so quickly-slow that you don’t even notice the twists until you’re already caught up into them, making them one of the best examples of what can be called “serious play” in poetry (which can often seem a rarity, even through those who claim to be working within it). McCann makes his impromptu feats look deceptively simple, a leap and a twist in mid-air and a perfect landing, in a poetry that knows far more than it lets on.
rob mclennan writing on Force Quit (The Emergency Response Unit, 2008) in The Antigonish Review