Milton Acorn is Full of Poetry
you repeat yourself
thinking even your mumbles
are more important than
the truths of beginning poets
& even tho you've never even
acknowledged that I write poetry
you old fart
I am still a student of
THE MILTON ACORN SCHOOL OF POETRY
even if you are too
goddammed proud to officially open it
So the only way I could join
was to declare it
in this poem
So here it is, Uncle Milty
& even tho I've said
a nasty thing or 2
in this dedication
More Poems for People is still
the only book I read often enough
to hide my money in
- Chris Faiers
introductory poem to my chapbook
College Streetcar Runs All Night
August 1979, Unfinished Monument Press
why Milton Acorn is important:
Good friend Morley Ellis asked me today why Milt is important, and
was he less favoured by academics than Al Purdy? I explained that
Milt was 'the real thing', he was genuinely homespun, whereas
Purdy had more successfully popularized this rural poetic persona.
And Milt was controversial. There's not much in the poetry of Al Purdy
anyone could take offence to. But Milt, Milt stood his ground - he was
POLITIKAL - he was anti-imperialist - which in those times, and still
today, means "anti-American".
Milt challenged the 'elephant in the room' of American imperialism, and this
was crucial to me as a war resisting draft-dodger who grew up Canadian in
the U.S., and who never assimilated into their jingoistic mentality.
Milt was perhaps only the second 'real' poet I had met. At the University of
Miami I had enjoyed a performance by Allen Ginsberg - chanting and
praying his way through the mystical Tibetan bardos of existence.
And then Milt. In my brief tenure at University of Guelph in 1973, the writer-
in-residence had been Irving Layton. Layton supported the Vietnam War!
What an a-hole I thought. Then I joined the Canadian Liberation Movement
at a campus book table, and eventually met Milt.
At this time Milt was like a rock star - when the Yurchuks and I organized a
campus reading by Milt, the small hall was filled to overflowing! Milt spoke out
to a generation of Canadians who were sick of American control - this meant
American profs who controlled many Canadian university departments, American
unions which controlled Canadian workers, and American culture which denied
the existence of the growing importance of Canadian writers, singers, actors -
HISTORY - quick, who won the War of 1812? - Canadian textbooks called
it "the war nobody won". Well, they invaded, we repelled them, and then burned
down the white house.
gotta go help Morley with some chain saw work ... rural myth-making of my own : )
maybe more later ...
peace & poetry power!
Chris - Feb. 23, 2012