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Off Duty poet

Zines, Poems and Novels will forever be what saved me.

I have publilshed several short stories and one collection with KASINI HOUSE press. The North Yorker began as a zine, and received a warm reception from Weird Canada and Broken Pencil Magazine. It was also nominated for a BEST ENGLISH BOOK award at EXPOZINE.

My zine Several Beginnings and Endings to Novels was also nominated for a BEST ENGLISH BOOK award.

I have been published in Broken Pencil Magazine, Write Magazine, Streeteaters Zine and excerpts from my zine 95 Things to do During a Boggle Game were shortlisted for the CBC Literary Award.

I take most of my inspiration from Italo Calvino, Isabel Eberhardt, Stephen Leacock, Anne Carson and various other writers. Currently I am trying to complete a book about my days as a treeseller in NYC.

When I attended York University I sat reading Percy Shelley and John Keats while overlooking the suburban sprawl and the clouds opened up and sunlight sprayed onto a grassy knoll and I knew I was hooked forever.

The North Yorker

excerpt from THE NORTH YORKER (opening preface)



"It's hard being a revolutionary these days. Just the other day someone was towing my car and I was like 'hey I'm a revolutionary' and they were like 'that'll be one hundred and fifty dollars." -Atlas Bajore, ex-revolutionary

I lived in the city of North York for a total of four years. I lost my virginity there. My student years. North York is a land-locked city, squeezed between Vaughn, Scarborough, Brampton, Etobicoke, Parkdale, downtown Toronto and East York. The major streets are almost a perfect grid. Sheppard, Jane, Wilson, Keele, Bathurst. The 'heart' of North York is the 401. A concrete marvel, rivaling the biggest highways in all of America. On and off ramps soaring high into the air, twisting and turning, their names so banal it's almost romantic: the 427, 410, 403... How long does one have to live somewhere before they can comment on it seriously? You know, definitively?


Travel writers like Bruce Chatwin and AA Gill pass on through for days and combined with research feel they know enough about somewhere to give their opinion. Maybe instead of commentary, I should look at my writing from there as reporting, a witness, a literary journalist of sorts. Fictional reporting.

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When the sun goes down for the day/the big rigs come out to play. Okay, so I invented that just right now and the metre is shit, but really, sixteen-wheel big rigs full of oil barrel down Finch and Steeles like some ghastly ram hell bent on bashing through some kind of fortifications. They reminded me of nuclear warheads being transported to missile silos or aircraft carriers. The city gave me a to write about, “inspiration” so to speak.

And now that it's gone and Montreal is my home, sometimes I feel, as the South African playwright Athol Fugard did when apartheid ended: like a boxer with no one left to fight. Yes, North York was like apartheid for me. Well, cultural and spiritual apartheid, I don't wanna sound like a bleeding heart leftist, I'm not. Drugs worked well to cure this apartheid, Luis Fernandes, Daryn McIntyre, Peter Stevens, Stacy Douglas,Josh Kerr and playing frisbee with beautiful artist-ladies also did.

I'd never live there again and am constantly awaiting the National news media to report a mass exodus from the doomed city, yet North York remains. A million citizens, content, I suppose. There is a twenty-four hour McDonald's at Bathurst and Steeles, Lawrence and Dufferin, and Jane and Finch. The only times I have ever stepped into a McDonald's are in these situations: North York, four in the morning, stoned, maybe drunk, no food in the house. Do I regret it? Every time. But not going to McDonald's in North York is the equivalent of going to the Caribbean and not swimming the sea. The agony afterwards is more than enough punishment, akin to the memory that North York retains in my mind. The place must be a trepanation for immigrants and unfortunate families seeking downtown jobs, just happy to be close to work and out of a difficult world, right? Provincially conservative, federally Liberal, and municipally conservative, the politics of North York are scary and shaded by the glitz of Metropolitan Toronto. The condominium plague has already spread to North York, and it is in North York where condos flourish unchecked; there is no community, or any community that cares to prevent it, or start real change. There are no neighbourhoods in North York, youngsters aren't proud of where they live, but they will stay at home with their parents as long as they can, making the ominous commute downtown and laughing at their 'independent' friends who pay astronomical rents and languish in a vicious work cycle that leads to stagnation. Where does crime come from? North York is setting itself up to be, with time, Detroit. Nothing will ever happen because everyone is too busy 'working' a job they don't particularly enjoy but 'it pays the bills'. Phrases like this are common. North York to me, is exactly where the revolution will definitely not happen. Which I suppose is why you dream that much more of it while you're living there. This is a collection of works I produced during my four years there, some of which I spent treeplanting in the great Boreal North or séjourning in Montréal, but eight months of the year were always spent with my feet firmly entrenched in the mud of North York.

“It's time to get drunkitized”
- Conall Pendergast

Short Story

(originally published in WRITE magazine, part of a collection of stories entitled MONTREAL ESOPHAGUS)

Who To Give The Poems To

Adam Manduski is my name, madcap of Montreal, alone in a bar, writing with a cold pint, believing that alone is enough to define the daily character of a man—and that word ‘man’—its usage alone defines a writer in our current literary climate. I digress, no time for the Manduski pedant, for love is upon me, having prepared its descent in the steel drums of an unassuming Charcoal Steakhouse in the Montreal nether regions: Park Extension, or Park Ex, as the locals refer to it. Let’s call this one ‘Ruby and the small pitcher’ so I don’t get too drunk. Ruby’s name alone was a reason to love her. I was waiting for a high profile Toronto publisher when suddenly Ruby became the high profile publisher in an amorous sense. I only had one copy of my latest poems—an original manuscript with every poem hand-written, toil, calligraphy, time, coffee stains, ink, a yellowing around the edges—and now tout simplement the iridescent shine of a fine pile of art… “Hey there, whatchya want?” asked Ruby in a New York accent. “Small pitcher, please,” I stated, stately. I brandished my pen. “No lime,” I added. “Who gets a lime in their beer?” she interjected.


“Some. Not I.” such was my famed rebuttal. “May I inquire as to your name,” I said. “What are you British or something?” “Well, aren’t we all? Ha! No, no, no,” I said, removing the elastic band from my moleskin, producing a snapping sound. “So you a writer?” she asked. “Yes.” “What kind of writing?” “Poems and diatribes, mostly.” “Really? I love poetry. Bukowski and those maudite frogs, they’re the best.” “You mean Rimbaud, Baudelaire, of course?” “Yah. Mercenary Muse is my favourite of Baudelaire’s, he’s tops,” said Ruby, chewing her gum. “Whatchya got there?” she pointed at my manuscript. “Oh, just my new manuscript.” I suddenly noticed her legs—long, slender, simple, with a bulbous ass, pale white skin from the long winter inside—I needed to see them in the air, trembling! Ruby! The poet-wise! Everything about her shone, her white collared shirt with a cherry red trim! Oh Non-Gods! Ruby, they will option Hollywood films on your eyes alone, Ruby, the street poet’s wife? They’ll say: here’s six million for Ruby! “Could I read it?” she asked. “Well, it’s just, it’s my only copy.” “Oh poop you.” She left for the back of the bar, it was a large, open bar, she disappeared behind the bar making it impossible for me to ogle her, even though I was leaning at an exaggerated angle, dagnabit! Was she upset with me? Her large bangs were everything I loved—they shot upward like an inverse waterfall. Dyed with streaks of blonde, I would have to make a decision. The fascist publisher (I say fascist because of a trip to Lake Simcoe during which he explained to me that he would prefer a dictator if it benefited him and the country and made for a functional society, I suppose he was a benevolent fascist really…) entered the bar-resto and immediately I noticed his larger than life frame—he took up so much space! So many layers of clothing, even his beard was excessively large as though it was about to spread onto the walls, his name: Jason Mercury.

“Hello Adam, my fine contemporary!” he exclaimed, shaking my hand in a nice kind of way. He always referred to me as his contemporary yet he had never produced a work himself as a professional or as an amateur. He was a shrewd business man that somehow could turn a profit off of poetry, which some could argue was an art in and of itself, and yes publishing is an art too, however his tactics were questionable. He slugged poems in Reader’s Digest, put them on drab paintings or photographs with horrendous one-word slogans like “HOPE” and of course underneath, one of my poems. Hospitals and clinics hung them in their waiting rooms or in their own rooms for god knows what reason perhaps some personal insecurity, be it unbeknownst to this man, this man who liked to think his poems were published in Paris, where they flourished as much as wine sales. “So! You look good, Montreal looks good! I feel good, your last book is still taking in some residuals, I sold one of your poems to Cosmopolitan magazine! How’s that!” He gave me a check for eight hundred dollars. I cringed at the thought of COSMO readers. But man was he good, really good, an All-Canadian Brampton boy who loved to play hockey and throw his body around, then he moved into securities before settling on art dealing and publishing—he loved the international acclaim and the esteem. And just like that, for a staunch Montrealer like myself: there goes one seventh of my fiscal debt. I looked at his eyes. “Now! The new manuscript? Is that it?” He pointed to the manuscript. “Yes.” “May I have a look?” he said, while taking it. “The Blood of My Apples, I like the title already, ha! May have to change it though, if we want a broad-based global marketing platform for this one. I’ll check the pie charts.” Ruby arrived with my small pitcher, I instinctively snatched the manuscript. “Oh sorry, I didn’t bring two glasses,” she said. “No worry, I’ll take a triple scotch,” Mercury surveyed the bar. “Do you have Jameson at least?” he added while leaning forward. “Yah we got Jameson.” “Well, then, suppose I cancel the triple scotch, and make it three bottles—I’m here with a real poet, and I want to get a real drunk on so I don’t forget this shit, sharing a writer’s time must be Dionysian, three bottles of Jameson and a can of coke!” exalted Mercury, relaxing in his barroom chair.

“Three bottles of Jameson and a can of coke, coming up Mr. Big Shot. What about you Mr. Poet? You gonna give me—” “Yes, of course, later.” I interrupted, scrambling for words, struggling to keep the element of mystery alive. “Alright, well, I’ll be back in a flash,” said Ruby, and her legs went away. “Why did you take the manuscript from me so hastily, that was intense Adam.” “Sorry, I thought you were going to drop it.” “Let me see then,” said Mercury, re-taking the manuscript. He read the first few poems amid gasps. “By golly you’ve done it again Manduski! If I was a woman I’d sleep with you right here, I’d get down on my knees for you by heaven!” he lurched forward sympathetically and stared at me in the eyes. “I tell you Adam, I know I’m rich as shit, but I just love poems, I love them, they just make me wet in some sort of figurative sense. Beyond that they make me feel justified in drinking and walking the streets home! Forget mortgages and new cars, they make me feel content. Authentic emotional… calm…I’ll give you ten grand for these gems. And another ten grand when they are released and you do the book signings.” Adam watched as Mercury continued his half-moving speech, Ruby emerged in the background to clean a table. She moved erratically until she noticed a small stain on a chair, she leaned over and rubbed hard with her rag to remove the stain, it was a difficult one that she had to rub vigorously. Her ass was in the air, round and perfect, a plump tomato, a perfect expression of everything Adam loved; better than a million manuscripts, her leather skirt shined its usual dullness, and her ass spoke to him, as Mercury actually spoke to him, there they were, side by side, a plump round ass, gateway to the vagina, and a plump hairy face, gateway to fiscal stability.

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