“Poetry is exploration. Writing, a line springs to mind and I let it lead me through my imagination. As a reader, I willingly follow the path into another poet’s world. And, as a collector of Canadian poetry, I search out books at garage sales, church bazaars, school book sales, thrift shops, and occasionally antiquarian bookstores.
“I first heard of Patrick Anderson in 1976 when Borealis Press of Ottawa released a collection of his poems. Shortly afterward, I interviewed P.K. Page, who reminisced about her early days in Montreal. She talked about Patrick and the controversy stirred up by John Sutherland’s 1943 review of the homoerotic nature of Anderson’s poetry, a piece driven by an artistic turf war in the city and by aesthetic posturing, heterosexual Canadian male versus ‘not quite normal’ foreigner. At the time of the attack, P.K. said, Patrick was married, although eventually he left his wife for Orlando Gearing, with whom he spent the rest of his life, mostly in England, his birth country.
“Recently, at a bookstore (since closed), I discovered his first book, A Tent for April (1945). It was a signed copy. His signature on the page created a feeling of a direct link to him, to an early and largely ignored gay poet. The volume does not disappoint. The opening poem, ‘Drinker,’ concludes: ‘he draws the long stalk of water up between his lips / and in his sandy mouth there bursts its melting flower.’ And, interestingly, the poem ‘Summer’s Joe,’ forecasts the end of his marriage, which occurred in 1947. This is very much a first book, but, at the same time, this collection marks an important point in the evolution of gay literature and modern poetry in Canada.”
Blaine Marchand’s poetry and prose has appeared in magazines across Canada and the US. His two most recent poetry books are Aperture and The Craving of Knives. He was a monthly columnist for Capital XTRA for nine years and is currently working on two manuscripts of poems, Where You Dwell and My Head, Filled With Pakistan, as well as a collection of gay short stories, Nomads.