Thursday, December 23, 2010

I treat poetry like underwear.

At least when it comes to the holidays. When I was a kid, Christmas gifts were a careful combination of fun toys and practical clothing. Underwear never held the same appeal as a guitar or a toy pony, but it was reliably there every year. So in that spirit, I've bought each of my immediate family members two gifts: the one they want, and the one I think they need. That's right. I think they need poetry. Why? Well, not because I'm trying to recruit new readers, or convert my family into poetry lovers, though that would be nice. No, this is a selfish gift: I figure if I can introduce my family members to some contemporary poetry, I might slowly have to stop fielding questions about what it is exactly that I am writing. If my well-intentioned family can actually get a sense of what I am studying, they might not think I am putting them off. It might make future holiday dinners less awkward, as I try to contextualize why I am writing poetry for a thesis, and what that has to do with dialects spoken in other parts of the world. My parents have read most of my thesis and scholarship proposals (protip: getting a non-specialist to read those applications can help avoid the jargon problem. My parents might not know a lot about literature, but they're smart people, and their questions about "what does that mean, exactly" got me thinking about how to be concise without being obscure).

The odds are low that the books I have carefully bought will actually be read, but it's the thought that counts, or buy unto others what you would have them buy unto you, or something like that.

So, here's the list (MOM IF YOU ARE READING THIS STOP HERE OR CHRISTMAS WILL BE RUINED!):

For my dad: Priscila Uppal's Winter Sport: Poems, because I think it will appeal to the memory of all the times he drove me to early morning hockey practice and late night games.

For my mum & youngest sister: Helen Hajnoczky's Poets and Killers: A life in advertising pretty much for the reasons I outlined here.

For my middle sister: Nikki Reimer's [sic], because I think it will appeal to her perceptions of Calgary and corporate culture.

I'll report back on reactions post-Holiday.

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