Dispatches from the Poetry Wars is back after a somnolent summer of whimsy and digressive delight. We swam and fished, wrote poetry and stared mindlessly at the endless roll of waves lapping on the glacial detritus of Georgian Bay’s shore, thinking affectionately of Whitman’s “What central heart—and you the pulse—vivifies all? . . . What fluid. What vast identity.”

A different “identity” than what now inhabits the political minefield, primed and ready to take the legs off any fool who dares to tread into its explosive discourse. So of course we do, albeit gently and in good, if somewhat provocative, taste. And always with a little humour, a mode of thinking far too rare in the current environment of unrestrained moralist outrage. Not that everyone will share our sense of humour. Which would be the point. We are reset, recharged and renewed, ready to get back into the fray.

Since we last erupted into your life, we have all been subjected to the endless brutalities that the Regime of the Big Yam showers on us with excruciating regularity. From Korea to Kavanaugh, from Stormy to Dr. Ford, from Puerto Rico to “shithole” countries, we have witnessed the known world slide into a new kind of oblivion, a scenario even Beckett would have had a hard time imagining—a homicidal clown viciously attacking the earth itself (and everyone on it) in a patriarchal convulsion of greed, rage, resentment, and pure meanness, egged on by the greedy and the desperate.

In the midst of it all, poetry continues to breed coherencing energies, to breach the mandated shell of daily madness, opening into ranges of knowledge and sense that bear a deep, inviolable integrity and generosity. Despite the best efforts of the Machine to commodify it, to turn it into a token to be exchanged for career advancement – and if you’re lucky, Prize money, the real measure of success in the Commercial Poetry Product Market – poetry, real poetry, continues to be written and continues to draw together those who share  commitment to its unprofitable brilliance. The value of poetry has always been its ability to speak the truth that troubles the waters, to embody the incommensurable in a language of unrelieved opening, to lead you, as William Carlos Williams had it, out into the rain. We have always intended Dispatches to be part of that opening.

We are leading off with a spectacular lineup for your reading delight and your intellectual riot. Familiar names – Waldman, Quasha, Finkelstein, Ajens, Wolsak, Cavafy, Celan, Joris, Alcalay – join many newcomers to our little get together – Palau, Singh, Shmailo, Zajkowski, Smith, to name only a few – in a material realization of a temporary autonomous zone, a being together that is a furthering. In addition to the fabulous poetry and prose, we have introduced a number of new features which include a comics section (seriously, don’t miss it) and a regular Tarot reading. Yes, you heard right – Tarot. We begin by putting the question to the cards, “Will Dispatches find love?” The answer may surprise you. And we invite you, gentle readers, to submit your questions to the cards, too. Come on, now. Don’t be shy.

A full list of the new content is available in Dispatches Fall Update – Contents as well as the Dispatches Index.


Another new item is our shiny Donate button located at the top of the page. In the last 2½ years, Dispatches has never asked for a dime from anyone (although thankfully some supporters have sent some dimes our way now and then). The editors don’t need dough as they are fueled by love and lingering memories of resistance. But there are material costs to keep the site running well. We have moved through three iterations of Dispatches. The first one cost us all of CDN$12.00. It was admittedly clunky, but it drove. The second one cost about CDN$10/month. It seemed more sophisticated – until it didn’t and just stopped running. This third iteration, with our glorious new masthead (are we the gas-masked soldiers or are we the gas-masked mule?), cost considerably more to get set up and running, and incurs regular monthly charges in excess of the total spent in the first two years. So if you are passing by and enjoying the view, consider pushing that new button and slipping us a fin, a sawbuck, or even a double sawbuck. We would be most grateful.

Dispatches from the Poetry Wars: poets throwing chickens through the windows of moving trains.