& occasionally about other things, too...

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Michael Fraser: Coffeehouse Cabaret

I met Michael Fraser about a year ago at Helen Walsh’s home when some of the mentees of the 5th round of Diaspora Dialogues met with some of the mentors.

Michael asked me who my mentor was, and was envious when I told him it was MG Vassanji.

Shyam Selvadurai was his mentor for the
program. Shyam publicly praised Michael for his writing at TOK 5’s launch last month.

Undoubtedly, Around the Way is among the better stories in the collection.

Earlier this month, I attended another one of Michael’s poetry readings – the Coffeehouse Cabaret – at the Black Swan tavern (Broadview x Danforth). Michael also manages the Plasticine Poetry series at the Central in Mrivish Village.

Evidently, Michael knows the importance of public reading and does it like a champion.

After his reading session I bought his book of poems – Serenity of Stone. Reading it over the last week, I was awestruck with Michael’s felicity with words and simplicity of expression.

The broad theme of the collection is his adjusting to Toronto as an immigrant. As a newcomer myself, I identified immediately with it, although I couldn’t possibly have written about it with such a cadence of words, sounds.

I envy poets. In a few deft lines they convey feelings that are often indescribable.

Michael’s poem Lawrence West Bus is about so many of us newcomers who commute on TTC, in perpetual wonderment at what we observe, never tiring of the sights and the sounds that this city has to offer.

Lawrence West Bus

8 a.m people draped

in walking clothed anthems
garlands of language
unfold and perch
like syncopated doves
in our armchair ears
wingless sounds
soft in flight

through shaded smog windows

each house number
is a full year
overgrown with time
how satellite dishes hold
crushed skies in grey irises
inside we are surrounded
by breathing clocks
feverish seconds eat themselves
and disappear

bus wheels peel pavement

a burnt kiss
flashed in rubber and stone
road lines open up
as a zipped dress
secured in material arms
the baby feeds itself with sleep

The other poem that leaves a lasting impression is Dog Days and his father’s “long white Thunderbird” which finds a prominent mention in Around the Way.

And a memorable line:
birds eat words from a tree.

Read an earlier post on the poet: Click here: 
Michael Fraser:




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