Register Monday | December 9 | 2019

The Journey of the Angry Young Poet-Critics into the Valley of Fredericton

Friday, September 24, 2004, 13:00 At an appointed rendezvous on Halifax’s Brunswick Street, Angry Young Poet-Critics Zach Wells and Shane Neilson, heretofore known only to each other from the epic tales of their conquests and slaughters, meet. Hackles raised, they circle each other warily, sniffing wherever AYPCs are wont to sniff. They come to an unspoken understanding that, as with wolves and feral dogs, it is more advantageous to hunt in packs, and so lope off toward Fredericton, where it is rumoured that a herd of well-fed Canadian Poets will be gathering on the muddy banks of the St. John River to pay tribute to the deities Alden Nowlan and M. Travis Lane.

Friday, September 24, 2004, 16:00: The AYPCs do vicious battle over which divinity it is most meet to follow. After much bloody conflict, Wells puts Neilson in a sleeper hold until Neilson concedes that Milton Acorn, and not Alden Nowlan, is the One True God of Maritime Poetry and that Prince Edward Island is The Heart of the World, whereas New Brunswick is but a drive-through province. Their uneasy peace restored, they resume their journey, devouring small poets and other rodents along the way for sustenance. (It is only later learned that Neilson had crossed his fingers whilst pledging allegiance to the Acorn and repudiating his fatherland.)

Friday, September 24, 2004, 20:00: Having at last arrived at their destination, the AYPCs descend into the bowels of Brian Mulroney Hall to view Brian Guns’ film, Alden Nowlan: The Mysterious Naked Man, about the life and work of Neilson’s hearth god. The AYPCs snack on popcorn poetasters, slurping great gulps of bitter gall to wash them down. Both are suitably impressed with the filmmaker’s work and so agree to spare his life.

Friday, September 24, 2004, 21:30: Neilson and Wells have three travelling bards perform for them. At stake are their lives. Shirley Bear and Liliane Welch elicit howls of pain for ultra-earnest pseudo-profundities spoken in ponderous tones and shushed sibilance. The AYPCs consider eating them, but the Poets look too stringy to be a proper meal, and so the Critics simply chase them into the St. John River for sport. John Smith, however, astonishes the AYPCs with his impersonation of an extraterrestrial. They spare the venerable Laureate from torture and death and submit to having their ears scratched by him.

Friday, September 24, 2004, 23:59: The AYPCs, exhausted from the exertions of their journey, leave the auditorium at the intermission to curl up and bed down in Neilson’s ancestral den in Oromocto. Even their fleas and ticks slumber dreamlessly.

Saturday, September 25, 2004, 10:00: Neilson dons the robes of the Poets to walk among them undetected and deliver discourse on the merits of the god Nowlan, hoping to draw the herd within easy striking distance. Though he speaks well and though Greg Cook, Allan Cooper and Anne Greer also wax eloquent on the influence of the great deity, few turn out to hear them. It is rumoured that throngs have gathered elsewhere to hear tales of a flatulent cur.

Saturday, September 25, 2004, 12:00: The AYPCs break their fast with Guinness and cola and other fine victuals. A clutch of Poets and Storytellers meanwhile diverts them with verbal outpourings. Marilyn Lerch’s “hot bags of putrefaction” render the AYPCs temporarily harmless. They are reduced by lurching mirth to the state of benign puppies, rolling about in the sawdust and straw strewn across the publican’s planks.

Saturday, September 25, 2004, 14:00: The AYPCs lurk in the shadows whilst the Poets worship their goddess, M. Travis Lane. The preacher is at times struck dumb with admiration for the Lane’s greatness. The Lane’s human daughter Hannah unreels a litany of lineage and domestic familiars. The theologian Jeannette Lynes delivers an eloquent exegesis of three of the Lane’s teachings. Neilson and Wells are so filled with awe for this goddess, until now strange to them, that they forget their design to ambush and slaughter the congregation.

Saturday, September 25, 2004, 16:00: The AYPCs retire to Neilson’s den to rest themselves and file their fangs in preparation for an evening of feasting.

Saturday, September 25, 2004, 20:00: Neilson and Wells descend on the Poets’ last great gathering high on the hill, thirsting for warm blood. Robert Moore and Jeannette Lynes amaze and amuse with humour and wit. M.T. Dohaney’s prose also elicits the odd chuckle. The AYPCs are deeply moved by the ceremonial passing of laurel leaves from Gregory Cook to his son Geoffrey, whose elegant and erotic poetry fills all in attendance with lust. Finally, the Lane takes the stage. Even the cold-blooded Critics are near moved to tears by the grace and beauty of her elegiac issue. In their innermost beings, they question their killing ways. Briefly.

Saturday, September 25, 2004, 22:00: In an effort of conciliation, Poet Ross Leckie invites the AYPCs to join in the Poets’ evening revelries at Nowlan’s ancestral home. They gladly comply and make merry into the small hours, as the great god would have wished them to. They come to realize that even the dullest of Poets, while poor nourishment, can make boon companions.

Sunday, September 26, 2004, 09:30: The Poets disband and return to their various homelands. Neilson and Wells, with no more ready source of food on the muddy banks of the St. John River, are borne back to Halifax Harbour in the litter of Caryl Peters, who will then journey west to her home in Frog Hollow. Neilson and Wells clasp each other’s paws warmly and swear their mutual loyalty as they prepare to part ways, their alliance a force to be reckoned with by the hordes of Canadian Poetry.

Halifax-based Zachariah Wells is the author of Unsettled, a book of Arctic poems forthcoming from Insomniac Press. Contrary to popular opinion, he does not think he’s always right. The Zed Factor appears every other Monday.