Music at the Heart of Thinking 108

Now I know I have a heart because it’s broken but
should I fix it now to keep it strokin’ or should I stop
and listen closely to the name I got because it’s spoken
the one that stokes my heart with heat so hot I smell it
smokin’ or could this clock made up of parts be jokin’
that missing spark a mis-read gap provokin’ a little
sock of baby breath not chokin’ the piggy bank of
naming’s more than tokens not just the gossip love is
always cloaked in nor all the meaning text is usually
soaked in but roast potatoes for a tender button so
much depends upon the things unspoken and if the
heart is just this clock around which clusters all that’s
not and if the of and to an in that it is I for be was as can
set these rL, eM, eN, T’s far apart so when I sigh my
name the words won’t rust just hasten slowly old tin
man I’ll stop right now and have an egg because I know
its yolks inside and what I have to do is crack it open.


Fred Wah was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan in 1939, but he grew up in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia. He studied music and English literature at the University of British Columbia in the early 1960’s where he was one of the founding editors of the poetry newsletter TISH. After graduate work in literature and linguistics at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and the State University of New York at Buffalo, he returned to the Kootenays in the late 1960’s where he taught at Selkirk College and was the founding coordinator of the writing program at David Thompson University Centre. He retired from the University of Calgary in 2003 and now lives in Vancouver.

He has been editorially involved with a number of literary magazines over the years, such as Open Letter and West Coast Line. His work has been awarded the Governor General’s Award, Alberta’s Stephanson Award for Poetry and Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Fiction, the Gabrielle Roy Prize for Writing on Canadian Literature, and B.C.’s Dorothy Livesay Prize for Poetry. He was Parliamentary Poet Laureate 2011-2013 and he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2013. He has published over 20 books of poetry and prose.

Recent books include Sentenced to Light, his collaborations with visual artists, is a door, a series of poems about hybridity, and a selected, The False Laws of Narrative, edited by Louis Cabri. A recent collaboration, High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese, An Interactive Poem, is available online (http://highmuckamuck.ca/). His current project involves the Columbia River. Scree: The Collected Earlier Poems, 1962-1991 was published by Talonbooks in the fall of 2015.