And Now, A Poem: “Childish Things” by E.J. Pratt Poetry Award Nominee Michael Crummey

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Michael Crummey’s poetry collection Little Dogs (Anansi, 2016) has been nominated for the 2017 E.J. Pratt Award, along with Robin Durnford’s’s Half Rock and Patrick Warner’s Octopus.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday May 3rd at a ceremony at Government House in St. John’s. Little Dogs: New and Selected Poems was launched twenty years after the publication of his debut, to bring together selections from Crummey’s books of poetry, alongside a significant offering of new work.

Crummey was shortlisted for the last iteration of the EJ Pratt Poetry Prize as well, for his book Under the Keel, and his first book of poetry, Arguments with Gravity won the award. It would bore you to list all of Crummey’s literary accomplishments here, but fun fact: he also won an NL Book award in the fiction category, and jsut last year, for his novel Sweetland.

“Childish Things”

Three times I tried to kill my brother
in a fistfight, thrashing blind and inured
to pain or remorse in the moment.

Smoked stolen cigarettes in a strike shack
tucked away near the Catholic graveyard,
choking stoically on each poisonous snake.

In older company I downed a six-pack
of O’Keefe’s Extra Old Stock and spent
the night in misery, the puking so violent

and prolonged I half-expected to croak,
swore never to drink another
and kept the vow for most of a week

Impossible to fix how far back it went,
that urge to raze the bordered
world—my first pennies laid on the track

to see them flattened as a train ripped past,
erasing that prim image of the Queen,
the new coins hot and smooth as glass.

I could sense there was an invisible line
where childish things were left behind
and I was clawing wildly in the black,

wanting to cross over, whatever the cost.

Excerpted from Little Dogs: New and Selected Poems copyright (c) 2016 by Michael Crummey. Reprinted by permission of House of Anansi Press, Toronto. www.houseofanansi.com.

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