This past fall, I was introduced to Raoul Fernandes' writing when he read at St. Jerome's University. The following weekend, I tore through his first collection of poems, Transmitter and Receiver (Nightwood Editions, 2015), struck by the imagery, humour, and pathos. The collection has received some much-deserved acclaim: it won the Dorothy Livesay Award, the Debut-litzer Award for Poetry in 2016 and was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry. Raoul has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including the Best Canadian Poetry 2015. He lives and writes in Vancouver, with his wife and two sons.
We enjoyed his work so much that we're dedicating two episodes to it. Check back next week for another of his poems and please go pick up his collection from your local independent bookseller.
By Way of Explanation
You have this thing you can only explain
by driving me out to the port at night
to watch the towering cranes moving containers
from ship to train. Or we go skipping stones
across the mirror of the lake, a ghost ship
in a bottle of blue Bombay gin by your side.
I have this thing I can only explain to you
by showing you a pile of computer hardware
chucked into the ravine. We hike down there
and blackberry vines grab our clothes as if to say,
Stop, wait, I want to tell you something too.
You have an old photograph you keep in your
bedside drawer. I have this song I learned
on my guitar. By way of clarification, you send
me a YouTube video of a tornado filmed up close
from a parked car. Or a live-stream from a public
camera whose view is obscured by red leaves.
I cut you a key to this room, this door.
There’s this thing. A dictionary being consumed
by fire. The two of us standing in front of a Rothko
until time starts again. A mixtape that is primarily
about the clicks and hums between songs. What if
we walk there instead of driving? What if we just drive,
without a destination? There’s this thing I’ve always
wanted to talk about with someone. Now
with you here, with you listening, with all
the antennae raised, I no longer have to.
(written by Raoul Fernandes, read by Chioke I'Anson)
That rad music you hear at the end is by Tigerrosa. Buy their debut album here
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