I’m really pleased to have two poems included in Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology, edited by Priscila Uppal and Meaghan Strimas. (Priscila recently passed away after a long journey with a very rare form of cancer. I never met her, but I was familiar with her work and aware of her reputation for energy and generosity of spirit. I love her poem, “Good Death.”) The book will have its Toronto launch on Saturday, November 8, with two other Mansfield Press titles, including Priscila’s final poetry collection, On Second Thought. I won’t be in Toronto for the event, but maybe you will?
The anthology includes the work of some truly brilliant poets, and I’m honoured to be among them. Two dysfunctional poems that draw from my own cancer experience are included here, and it is good to have found such a good home for them. At times of illness or vulnerability, many of us turn to poetry for answers, and there is a special satisfaction in thinking that this anthology might satisfy an earnest need for solace in its readers.
This week also marked the passing of one of my favorite poets, Tony Hoagland, who died of pancreatic cancer. Shortly before his death, he published an essay called “The Cure for Racism is Cancer,” in Sun Magazine. Perhaps you think you don’t want to read a bunch of writing about cancer, but I give you Hoagland’s essay as a sort of appetizer. He writes,
In the country of cancer everyone is simultaneously a have and a have-not. In this land no citizens are protected by property, job description, prestige, and pretensions; they are not even protected by their prejudices. Neither money nor education, greed nor ambition, can alter the facts. You are all simply cancer citizens, bargaining for more life.