By EVAN MILLAR
MONTREAL — Local poet VD Warner has always held a reputation for the gritty, no hold’s barred approach he takes to his poetry, but according to bemused publishers lately the local artist has gone too far. Publisher Philmore Bleeker is the owner of Sweet Poem Alabama Inc, a Montreal-based publishing house, which has released numerous handcrafted sets of magnetic poetry as well as seven of VD Warner’s nine collections to date. Bleeker claims that although bitterness and resentment have always been an important part of Warner’s work, lately the levels of resentment are pushing art into the backseat, if not trunk, of the proverbial car of poetry.
His latest titles include “Ode to the the Asshole who Took too Long in the Fucking Grocery Line: A Sonnet in Two Words”, “Fitting that your vase looks sort of like a man’s ass, you scarf-wearing faggot: Dispatches from Pottery Class” and “I hate your son, don’t you ever question that”. According to the publishers, Warner has now reached the point at which fans of local poetry will begin to lose interest. Later this week, Bleeker will be meeting with the Sweet Poem Alabama Inc. Board of Executives to discuss what is to be done.
V.D. Warner gained relative notoriety with his experimental reworking of John Milton’s Lycidas, a move so daring that it was placed on the syllabuses of upper level Canadian poetry classes of several Southern Ontario academic institutions. Warner’s prestigious status as an important local poet has caused his publishers to exercise patience with respect to his work, and have given him room for experimentation.
“When you title your poem ‘Lycidas: The Long Sonata of the Dead’” says Bleeker, “and follow it up with just one line of capital letter ‘T’s that look kind of like hydro-wires if you look at them the right way, you are going to blow some minds. It was a masterpiece. But when, three years later, you submit exactly the same poem under the erased title ‘shit i’ve scrawled on paper to convince my publishers to give me a cash advance‘ you can expect to raise some eyebrows.”
The publisher claims that Warner’s new work, replete with obscure references to what critics assume are family members and acquaintances, can mean that mean nothing to anyone but the local poet himself. His controversial last two publications “76% Unicorn” and “Have U Ever…” were argued by many to be little more than printed out responses to Internet surveys.
“Its getting a little too personal, people are beginning to feel alienated, the references are becoming increasingly lost on everyone, singularly pertaining to insignificant events in the author’s own life.”
Warner is defended by local fan and aspiring avant-garde poet Uaçon Z. Somebody.
“Yes! That is exactly the point,” nods Somebody enthusiastically. “Finally, we have a body of work that adequately shocks the reading audience into ultimately realizing how confessional their own lives have become.”
Bleeker claims that he is in part protecting the privacy of the local poet.
“These are two examples of poems he submitted to us. One is called: “ten really cruel and disgusting things i do when no one else is around”. This one here is titled “women I have slept with that my wife still does not know about” which, as you can see, appears to just be a list of names. I don’t even know why he would want that published. We had our top poetry investigators as well as our computer analysis program scour the work for an allegories, hidden meanings, encrypted messages, Freudian undercurrents, biblical references, but we got nothing – except that it might somehow be a well-veiled critique of how contemporary disposable culture, but then again, thats true for practically anything.”
Somebody, who had his PhD thesis supervised by Warner, places the local poet among the ten best living local poets of all time.
“He’s always been a little bit of a personal hero. Its not surprising, really. What he’s doing now is just further cultivating the image of the renegade that has always been the central undercurrent of his work. The lonesome poet-cowboy is an archetype we can all relate to. Warner is a rebel wandering through a foreign badland, fighting scabs and singing songs of change. Only he fights line-breakers of a different kind, and instead of a six-shooter in his holster he has a mastery of the Alexandrine, instead of a quick-step he has the rhythm of poetic feet, and with no guitar slung around his shoulder he must rely on the chords of the mighty Zeugma—though no less musical than the minstrel’s instrument, the whimsical symmetry beckons a haunting melody that inscribes itself, like an echo, onto the mind of the reader.”
Somebody then took out a small black notebook and begin furiously transcribing what he had just said.
Also on the discussion board was the poet’s controversial “My monthly phone bill is over ninety dollars because my wife still talks to the Puerto Rican she fucked on our honey moon”, an abstract poem which contains no content other than its title.
“There’s pushing the artistic envelope and then there’s just bitching about your wife.” Bleeker states.
Somebody disagrees. “M.M.P.B.I.O.NinetyD.B.M.W.S.T.T.T.P.R.S.F.O.O.H.M. completely disturbs the expectational element of the poem. In fact, the very nature of ‘poemness’ is put in jeopardy.”
Bleeker told us that this lull in the local poet’s career might just be the after-effects of his last major project and edgiest to date: a poem that is reportedly so controversial, it can never even be written.
“I just can’t wait to be able to not read it,” Somebody states emphatically. He maintains that although he has not read V.D.’s newest material, he is certain that the publishers are surely making a big mistake by rejecting it, and that even if it is bad, it will still be good.