In “Fridge Noc­turne”, a short poem near the begin­ning of Don McKay’s selected poems, the sleep­less poet lies lis­ten­ing to the sound of his fridge, ‘the old/armless weep­ing wil­low of the kitchen’. The fridge’s “Hum­ble mur­mur” brings to his mind sev­eral dis­tant rivers–“the Saugeen, the Goulais/the Raisin”. The per­me­abil­ity of the bor­der between the domes­tic world and the wilder­ness which lies beyond it marks a land­scape whose vast­ness teaches early that, “Lonely is a knife whose han­dle fits the mind/too well, its old­est and most hos­pitable friend” (“Noc­tur­nal Ani­mals”). How­ever, “There is a loneliness/ which must be entered rather than resolved” (“On Leav­ing”) and to enter the wilder­ness with Don McKay is to have the sharpest, most informed and respon­sive guide. Here are his thoughts on the White-throated Spar­row:

I was think­ing of the mus­cles in that grey-white breast,
pec­toralis major pow­er­ing each down­stroke,
pec­toralis minor with its rope-and-pul­ley ten­don
reach­ing through the shoul­der to the
top­side of the humerus to haul it up again;
of the ster­num with the extra keel it has evolved to
anchor all that effort, of the dark wind
and the white curl on the waves below, the slow dawn
and the thick­en­ing shore­line. (“Load”)

Read the rest of “Introducing Don McKay” at Arc

(Photo Credit: National Post)


Don McKay & Jeramy Dodds, Friday October 7, 2pm, MB 2.130, 1450 Rue Guy

McKay’s collected poems, Angular Unconformity was published in 2014 and he has won the Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry twice, for Night Field (1991) and Another Gravity(2000). Dodds’ most recent publication is a translation of the Poetic Edda (Coach House Books, 2014) from Old Icelandic into English. He is a poetry editor at Coach House Books.