Monday, July 10, 2006

The Moon-fearing Bachelorettes of My Ancestors

Last night, I participated in the Scream's Small Press Dating Game, modelled after the original Dating Game. Three "bachelors" answered questions from a "bachelorette" hidden behind a curtain. (All the roles were non-gender specific, so both males and females were bachelors and bachelorettes.) It was a fun night of silliness and humour. The list of participating writers are here. It was good fun and a pleasure to be part of.

In my absurd role as "bachelor" in the game, I was thinking how the format (based on the original) would have been an interesting performance opportunity to play out the constuction of gender, sexuality and sexual identity/relations. We were supposed to "woo" the bachelorettes. How does one create a "wooing" personnae? What are the identity and language gambits should one employ? How are traditional notions of male, female, straight, gay, bi be played out particularily within such a formal structure? I was imagining if a writer like Margaret Christakos was a "bachelor," what she could have done with the set up.

I wrote a ridiculous poem in order to "woo" my bachelorette (who turned out to be Mark Truscott, O he who spurned me...) I've written few love poems. And certainly hardly any public ones. Of course, the tradition of poems to a loved one, or poems seeking to woo a loved one are very old. But what does one do? Praise the would-be lover? Tout one's own wonderfulness and the things that one can do or would do for the lover? And what is the nature of the boasting or the praise? You have great lips (they're really red, they look extraordinarily kissable). I'm a hunk-a-hunk of a burning love machine? Perhaps one could write about how the lover makes you feel. Or how you will make the lover feel? I was considering drafting an ode to my potential bachelorette's brain, based on the idea that the poem had to be gender non-specific. (Besides, the "date" was really to talk about writing, and not about wining, dining, dancing, and bases achieved in the National Amourous Baseball League.)

Here is my (very) occasional poem--it's only occasionally a poem--for your very own dining and dancing pleasure:


My writing is a needle shortening the pants of monotony and dread

It leaves an impressive narrative thread as it winds through

the abreviated cuffs of you who hitherto did proceed trippingly through the daily darkness and stumble of everyday speech

My writing will ride a bicycle through the stitchholes of your hems

the fabric of your mind stretched by my thousand-speed cosmic roadbike cosmos with wheels of pure joy

and your thoughts, undiscovered planets embraced by a multitude of imperceptible moons
suddenly will be Hubble-ized and named by the perspicacious cartographic lexicon of my cerebral sewing


For I am a one-handed phrenologist kneeling in a haberdasher’s fantasyworld funhouse,

a contestant playing the carbon dating game with the moon-fearing bachelorettes of my ancestors

Through the chest hairs of language, my poems seek gold medallions and the burnished signs of the zodiac in the mythic resonance of the curly pectoral forest

my writing is a BeeGee sestina hallelujah chorus

a John Travolta post-structuralist jumpsuit fandango of literary theory

a Hilary Duff post-colonial mega-sized writing samba in the blog roll drive-thru

My poetry contains multitudes and they appear small within its vastness

a single molecule within the molehill of my talent

I write on a desert island and the desert island feels glad

signals the boats of meaning, the search-and-rescue helicopter critics:

says, stay away,

stay away for we have something here

Yes, I’m a bachelor married to the archipelago of my own talent

going on a date with me would be like Y2K all over again

an excitement of digits, an anticipation of irrational calculations, airliners seeking the arcing chaos of their own inspirational routes through the cloud-busy air

a date with me would be like changing from the Gregorian to the Julian Calendar while hang-gliding through the National Library dressed in an asbestos nightie while the books are inflamed

the librarians run blindly down the stacks and inhale the smoking grammar of our lives headbutting the opposing players of tedium, madness, and apathy as they attempt to fan the bookish flames with facile rhymes, trite metaphors, and a limited understanding of the depth of my literary consciousness

I am the literary Jeffersons of the century, the poetic Archie Bunker of our times

I speak of Love Connection glory

of radiant Gilligan’s Island subplots singing Partridge Family small press bliss in the triumphant World Cup publishing paradise of Toronto

A date with me would be like having God’s credit card, Satan’s expense account, and the incisive ontological wardrope of Samuel Beckett as if he were born as one of the stagecrew for Gladys Knight and the Pips and his daddy owned the big rhinestone factory on the outskirts of sense.

Look! Someone’s revved the motor, turned on the highbeams of language’s monster truck. Seems like its blind driver is driving you to your first date with me.

2 comments:

functional nomad said...

wow. and you didn't win? or was the date the prize?

gary barwin said...

Just like the original dating game, the bachelorette choose the person whom they'd like to go on a date with (that was the prize we all had our hungry collective eye on.)

But it was just like high school. Everyone thought I was very clever, but I still didn't get the date...