More Naked Than Ever turns out to be the latest big idea out of Big Idea Headquarters this month. My new book of poems dropped December 13th. (Yes. Friday the 13th.) Like poetry? If your answer leans toward ‘yes’ then The Grad Club would have been a good place for you to be on this particular Friday night. In fact, if you were only leaning toward ‘yes,’ there were four poets on hand quite willing to help push you over into the full ‘yes’ position.
The 4 poets? Sarah Richardson. Bruce Kaufman. Alyssa Cooper. (And myself.)
Each of us had shiny new books to catch and release. Hidden Brook Press hosted a four-way reading at the Grad Club to celebrate. Richard ‘Tai’ Grove, the publisher of HBP, was a fine host and a brave man for firing out four books of poetry all at once. In fact, these four books were the last set of a seven-part thirty-book series. Thirty books: An act of faith and courage to be certain. The books?
Sarah Richardson: Before I Lose the Light
Bruce Kauffman: The Silence Before the Whisper Comes
Alyssa Cooper: Cold Breath of Life
& mine: More Naked Than Ever
So, I’ve released a Children’s Album and a book of (adult) poems within a few months of each other. I’m not sure what this means other than the fact that once I get an idea or a project in my head, I keep following it until I’m satisfied. I admit to wondering how to “market myself” as an artist but I think of these particular projects as being juxtaposed with one another (as opposed to being at odds with one another.) These disparate projects do sometimes contribute to a mild identity crisis that gnaws at me, particularly when a “So, what do you do?” conversation pops up.
I’ve been travelling on the ‘Megabus’ a fair bit lately. Montreal. Toronto. Montreal. Toronto. Toronto. When I leave my guitar to the handler to store underneath the bus and then climb naked up to my seat I wonder who I should be when the person beside me asks …
“So, what do you do?”
A while back it was a trip to Concordia to take part in an academic book launch I had contributed a chapter to. “So, you’re a professor?” Ummm. Yes?? I think of myself as more of a poet but I work part-time-ish at Queen’s. Next couple of trips were to Toronto for music so I was a musician for those trips. Then it was off to Montreal for a gig to join a new-found friend on stage. “What kind of gig?” the person beside me asks. A children’s gig. Families. Lots of them. My new friend? No I haven’t actually met her. But I invited myself and she said yes and told me I could join her and her band on stage for a song or 2. “So you’re a kids singer?” Ummm. Yes?? I’ve also just released a book of poems. “For kids?” No, not really. The book is called More Naked Than Ever. (Yes, sex, drugs and rocknroll make appearances.)
My identity tenuous but intact—a poetry-writing, musician, sort-of-professor-type who performs for children—the rest of the trip runs its course, the conversation with the person next to me lively (or not). And so it goes. Poems and songs writing themselves as the bus driver does the real work. By the way, the Megabus is definitely the way to go despite the fact that the billboards you see that advertise Toronto to Montreal trips for $1 are as close to false advertising as you can get . Still, it’s fun to climb aboard a bus and find out who you’re going to be with each new trip. Sometimes you feel confidence and ease. Sometimes you feel more naked than ever …