(published by Wolsak and Wynn Publishers Ltd.)
View Glen Downie's video
Excerpt from Loyalty Management (PDF) as it appeared in the National Post on October 11, 2008.
What the judges said:
"Undeniably Torontonian, Downie's poems travel nimbly through our old Victorian homes, up the trees in our yards, down our streets and into other lands. This book evokes vibrant images of objects and relationships, filtered through layers of immense kindness, a shrewd eye for deceit, and an established technical skill. These poems are richly textured and utterly readable."
Corporations connive to "manage" our loyalty; repressive governments try to compel it. Opposing these notions, Glen Downie explores the bonds we freely forge to people and to places. His sixth book declares its loyalties by uncommon attention to lives lived, whose traces may be as evident as brickwork or as hidden as signatures under old wallpaper. Sensitive to meaning in the humblest object - a spoon, a doll, a pocket watch - these poems testify that loyalty bears the weight of tangible personal reality, whether of a newborn hefted into its cradle or a father's ashes lowered into the ground.
(photo by Emma Downie)
Glen Downie was born in Winnipeg, worked in cancer care for many years in Vancouver, and currently lives in Toronto. He served as Writer-in-residence at the Medical Humanities Program of Dalhousie University's Faculty of Medicine in 1999. He has published fiction, non-fiction, reviews, and six books of poetry. His latest collection is Loyalty Management (Wolsak & Wynn, 2007).
Excerpt from Loyalty Management
The little engine of my days un-
nests the nesting cups yellow
red blue yellow red blue
smaller to bigger so fast
Doesn't need me
for this I winnow
the mail: letter with surreal poem
plane tickets consumer survey
asking if we suffer
dandruff & what is the family
in her hair occasionally
her mouth In the poem
Stalin's brain gets fed
to a large snake Sated
while we stroller to the store for more
milk Have we ever bought
Head & Shoulders? Home again
check the ticket fine print insurance
declined Father's birthday
unmissable Those once-in-a-blue-moon
heart-tug visits will be
leaky-heart-valve visits now sped up
like a racing pulse
to every few octogenarian/baby-months But
the family income? These
tickets paid for with years
of shrink-the-world Air Miles Woe
the world is tiny in the brochures
& mailed (return address says) from the
Loyalty Management Group She
wakes demands her share
of mail starts shredding the questionnaire
There are no edges to my loving now
as torn questions & forced-choice answers
come snowing from her hands
to dandruff her dark hair
Loyalty Management by Glen Downie. Published by Wolsak and Wynn Publishers Ltd. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
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