Bless Canada, a huge, gangly nation filled with happy people (7th happiest place on earth) who are finally happy enough to look in the mirror.
Dam the warts and scars in the mirror. Cut out the warts now (our scars will last forever)— and yes, I’m talking about racism and colonization.
Bless CanLit, an unlikely seed that, nurtured, finally bloomed. A million grants makes some fertile shit. (Srsly, how many grants since 1957?)
Bless Alice Munro for being the first legit Ontario Nobel. (Bless even Bob Dylan, because reading is hard.)
Bless Margaret Atwood for valuing individual voices (especially women’s) over systems, for giving comfort to those battling the anti-women gang.
Bless London for, after only 150 years, its first monument to CDN poetry (Bless Derek Beaulieu). UK, not londON, home of our foreign queen.
Bless even Olde Lucy Maude for getting back in the public eye like a small bit of PEI red sand caught in a Cavendish dust-up. Put an ‘e’ on it.
Dam the country for losing more bookstores. There are easy policies that could reverse the loss (see France). Dam Niagara for having none.
Bless the small press festivals, magazine fairs, workshops, constant readings, and nomadic warehouses in lieu of an independent book market.
Bless Port Colborne for being blessed with both Alphabet Books, a curated, exquisite used book store, and the Canadian Authors Series.
Bless Steven Galloway, not the man (or author), as emblem of a new age in academia wherein profs can no longer treat their students as they will.
Dam Jian Ghomeshi, the symbol and the man, for proving that celebrities can still treat lesserthans as they will.
And let us pause to dam all of those literary types who first rushed to his defence, then howled for him to be stuck in gaol when the mood shifted.
Dam twitter-fueled indignation, a damn fickle, inconstant fiend. Social media mobs are monsters that will haunt you, your family, your citizenship.
Bless Indigenous Literature and the arrival of its first golden age since colonization. Bless Annharte, Jordan Abel, Lee Maracle, and more.
Bless Indigenous Lit, too, for ending the interminable debates about whether books by immigrant authors are Canadian enough.
Bless every white/settler author who feels a little exposed for being perhaps too Canadian. Awkward discomfort is the best form of nationalism.
Dam Justin Trudeau and his pastry over-enunciated neoliberalism. Dam him for pretending that middle-of-the-road is radically progressive.
Bless Gord Downie for growing til the end, for holding Trudeau’s feet to the fire in front of 20 million Canadians, for his grace, too.
Dam America for making Trudeau’s middle-of-the-road politics look radically progressive, for missing The Tragically Hip, for Trump and guns.
Bless Black Lives Matter for making everybody uncomfortable at the same time. They make it so beautifully awkward to just carry on.
Dam the glum Left for eating its own, and for always being hungry. Dam them/us for exchanging pride for anger, for instinctively tearing down.
Dam the dumb Left for forgetting nuance, for forgetting the complexity of the past, for fearing victories, for not trying to build and govern.
Bless the Tories for their incompetence. They know not what they do (thank god).
Bless the explosion of literary awards that funnel glam and cash into a habitually moribund literary community. Poetry proms for everyone!
(Class break: to gauge a healthy literary community, divide the literary awards by the number of authors who make a living from their writing.)
Dam the future, despite all media prognostications, for its relentless optimism. (Remember bad news sells happy advertisements.)
Dam the global poverty rate—cut in half from 1990 rates, still so far to go.
Dam the violent crime rates—they continue to drop, still so far to go.
Dam vehicle emissions, coal plants, animal consumption, and smog days —falling, closing, dropping, forgotten, but still so far to go.
(Does anybody remember the blue clouds on the highways? The days kids weren’t allowed outside? Convenient stores without 3 kinds of soy milk?)
Dam solar energy, hyperloops, and separated bike lanes — the technology is already here, still so far to go.
Bless the problems before us for making good work crucial. May the damn blessed writers of Canada take a role in re-imagining this fraught world.