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David W. McFadden began writing poetry in 1956 and began publishing poetry in 1958. Why Are You So Sad? Selected Poems of David W. McFadden (2007) was shortlisted for the 2008 Griffin Poetry Prize and Be Calm, Honey (2008) was shortlisted for the 2009 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry (his third such nomination). McFadden is the author of about thirty-five books of poetry, fiction and travel writing. He lives in Toronto.

McFadden’s 2012 collection What’s the Score? won the 2013 Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize.

What’s the Score?

Mansfield Press
2013 Winner
Canada
Shortlisted in:

Judges’ Citation

David McFadden has been a major underground poet all his writing life, and the young poets discover him every year.

David McFadden has been a major underground poet all his writing life, and the young poets discover him every year. He has always been the darling of the avant-garde, but he is the most readable poet on the planet. Like his hero William Blake, he lives at ease among the most supernatural of events, and gazes in wonderment at everyday things. As a poet he reminds you to be yourself, to be yourself in the world, and give it a chance to amaze you. While reading his beautiful clear language, you sense that he is a trickster, but you cannot help believing every stanza he writes. If there is any such thing as an essential poet, here he is.

Judges’ Citation

With their arch yet affable tone, these ninety-nine irreverent and mock-earnest poems lay siege to the feelings of boredom, anxiety, and alienation that afflict a culture obsessed with wealth and prestige, leading us, again and again, down the road of excess to the palace of wisdom.

If the fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise,’ advised William Blake in his Proverbs of Hell. As if whispering through the ages into the ear of Canada’s deadpan court jester, Blake’s radical spirit slyly presides over David McFadden’s exuberant thirty-fifth publication, What’s The Score? With their arch yet affable tone, these ninety-nine irreverent and mock-earnest poems lay siege to the feelings of boredom, anxiety, and alienation that afflict a culture obsessed with wealth and prestige, leading us, again and again, down the road of excess to the palace of wisdom. ‘My poems go leaping from crag to crag,’ McFadden boasts in one poem, before quickly, and characteristically, scuttling this Romantic image of the egotistical sublime ‘like a stubble-faced crybaby, it’s probably / because I’ve been writing for so long, / forty years of poems to various friends.’ The easy, casual intimacy of these poems will befriend you on the first page. Their astonishing leaps and their genuine philosophical urgency will compel you to keep reading. ‘Stick around,’ invites this artful and knowing wise fool, ‘everyone should have a chorus / following his steps and reminding him / of his central role in some great dream.