*I’ve been listening to a LOT of 90’s-00’S Hip-Hop for my “Montreal” project so this kind of poem flow and rhymes at a MUCH faster pace than my usual stuff. It’s different and somehow feels like my 20’s are relevant again. I like it. So there!
Cutting Corners in the Metro
Dodging and ducking keeps my mind going, mind-blowing moment of creation and the noise in my headphones adding to the pressure on my temples creates a temple of noisy noiselessness no less the beats and mcess frees my mind, sheltering me from the sea of trains spitting out endless rows of endless crowds and I navigate the flow of people like traffic cones slow moving in my face well below my pace. I understand now what it means to be a writer, to be a witness. I’m in needing of the city and I’m in needing of the stress. committing to the page and I’m stuck, couldn’t do it without fifty thousand motherfuckers fighting for my spot.
And I swift through the place aiming for a space to land, a square foot piece of concrete free for me to stand in and wait and, wait and wait and write the whole scene feeling no need to withhold the weapon of the word, Invent new worlds, take a deep breath and feel the pressure on my chest every time every line, looking for the entire world in the insides of a narrow rhyme or a flawed statement about the status of men and the fingers are my pens, fuck the clock, the electronic piece can’t keep up with what I’ve got.
Then the next train come in and I cant help but see my suicide, every time, every night, eighteen years ago but it’s still on my mind, the double head lights in the tunnel still printed on my mind. No way around it, no way to forget the single step too many so easy to take and the wind slapping me on my face so fucking close to death. But I didn’t die I managed to fly by and escape the corner of my mind that would have let me fall and die. Got my heart racing and it hasn’t stopped since. Chose this life that chose me and I stuck with it.
Short on sleep
Short on food
Low on fuel
Money is few and far between
But the words keep coming and I’m committing to the page.No end to the flow and no end to the need to spit them at your face, hour after hour ain’t nothing I can do about my case so I push on the volume, beats are relentless, going loud and pushing it louder, blowing off my ears till you’re all drowned out. Fuck the World, screw the herd, but I need the contradiction of the crowd and the artist as a man. No need to travel when you living inside your head the world never ceases to amaze when you’re free to shape it, feel it, free it, commit to it. I need to be my own thing, something somewhere anywhere or simply just right here.
The train is my kingdom and you are all my subjects. Figuring it out every now and then. The train is my kingdom and you’re all my subjects. Yeah, the train is my kingdom. It hasn’t killed me yet.
Some quick updates,
I will be at table 301 a few hours for the Brooklyn Book Festival with the Down and Out rooster. 10 to noon and another shift from 4 to 6. Come by and say hi. I also expect to be poking around the Akashic table to help get the word out about the Montreal Noir anthology.
I’ll be roaming at the Bouchercon festival in Toronto (Oct. 13-14-15). Will post the exact room and date of my panel as soon as I’m absolutely certain of it.
There’s a book lunch planned for early NOV for the Montreal Noir Anthology but I’m still short on details.
Down with the Underdogs is in the capable hands of two underground legends as editors and that’s all I’m gonna say about THAT right now. (I know, I know!)
Thanks and take care,
Écrire Montreal c’est tough en criss. La langue a switch tout le temps. It’s even worse in Frenglish and the only way I can explain it is that if an Idea (a thought, a concept) feels better explained in French, then we’ll switch to French, if it’s better explained in English, then we’ll switch to English.
Mais le Franglais reste une “langue” parlée. On switche naturellement d’une langue à l’autre au fil des pauses dans la discussion. C’est un peu plus compliqué côté écriture.
When exactly do you switch?
It’s really hard to understand such a “young” language. Because it is THAT… a YOUNG LANGUAGE. Still.
Ces temps-ci, j’essaye d’écrire une nouvelle litéraire appelée “Montréal” ces temps-ci et c’est difficile sur papier mais une fois de temps en temps je nail une scene comme la suivante où je suis vraiment content. Alors voilà!
I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Excerpt from MONTREAL :
“Ah ben criss,” he heard and it snapped him out of his thoughts. It was his father walking back home with a Canadian Tire bag in his hands.
“Heille! S’t’une osti de belle surprise ça le grand. Comment ça va?”
“Hey dad, what’s up.”
“Ah! Parle donc en Français un peu.”
Eli wasn’t about to do that even if he couldn’t really tell why anymore so he just said, “We’ll see.”
“Ça fait tu longtemps que t’attends? Qu’est-ce tu fais ici. T’a tu faim, quelque chose?”
“What’s up with the car?”
“Forget the car, let’s get inside.”
But Eli didn’t exactly feel like going in, so he tossed his dad a bone instead by speaking French and said, “Assis-toi.”
“Pourquoi pas,” he replied and the accent was thick.
“Heille, Tu parles vraiment comme un Anglo asteure.” his dad replied.
It was almost enough for him to up and leave but he didn’t. “My mother’s an Anglo,” he replied instead and that was the truth. “Assis-toi.”
“Alright, alright! Ok!”
“What’s in the bag?”
“Une coupe de cossins pour le char.”
“So the car is fucked.”
“Nothing I can’t fix.”
“Pis la job?”
“Bin’ d’la job?”
“Pas plus que d’habitude. On a une coupe de grosses commandes qui s’en viennent. Les chiffres sont bons.”
“Les comptes sont payés. Pis toi.”
“Meh! New day, Same bullshit,” he said, picking up a tiny piece of gravel from the porch and tossing it away. He didn’t know why he was here anymore. It felt heavy and awkward and shit. He just looked at a distance to nothing at all really.
“Les comptes se payent?” His dad asked.
“Un a fois.”
“Alright!” his dad replied. He didn’t know what to make of this neither. Ben! Tant mieux,” he tried but that didn’t stick. “Comment va ta mère?”
Eli wasn’t about to talk to his dad about his mom so maybe it was time to cut to the chase.
“I got offered a contract.”
“A contract? Doing what.”
“I sold a painting.”
“Pour vrai?” his dad replied, sincerely excited about the news. “Combiens?”
“Enough,” Eli said. “A lot,” he admitted. “It’s a pretty good paycheck.”
“Mais t’a pas l’air convaincu.”
“I don’t like the guy?”
“Rich idiot playing art collector.”
“T’aime pas le gars fait que tu prendras pas son cash?”
“Osti que t’est con,” his dad laughed, calling him an idiot. Eli almost said ‘what?’ but his dad laughed out loud. “Osti t’est vraiment con. Tu fait quoi dans vie, Elliott?”
“Exactement! Exaaaactement que je’l sais,” his dad continued he was in a really good mood. The kind of fuck the world mood you couldn’t fake unless you had been poor and working class all your life. “Laisse moi t’dire queck’ chose. Tu sais quoi, le char, là? l’osti de char! Tu sais qu’est’ qu’y’a le char?”
“Non,” Eli replied. But he liked it. He needed to get his head slapped right now and his dad was doing just that metaphorically speaking of course, but a good slap just the same.
“Tsé, le p’tit bras qui tiens sur les bornes de la batterie? Ben’ le p’tit bras est loose. La vis a serre pus’ fait que quand j’pogne une bosse, le p’tit anneau y pop’ pis’ ma batterie à marche pus. C’est niaiseux en criss, hein. Pis tu sais quoi, ca coute 70$ changer le p’tit criss de bras mais J’ai pas 70$ dans le compte drette là pour le changer fait que tu sais quoi? j’ai marché jusqu’a Canadian Tire me trouver un boutte de tuyaux de copp’, pis j’ma le squeezer entre l’anneau pis la borne pour que la vis a serre dessus.”
“Faut etre pauvre pis fatigué en tabarnak pour avoir a faire ca, Eli. How much is he giving you for your painting?”
“QUATRE MILLE PIASSES?” his dad shouted. “Eli, Tabarnak!”
“Please tell me you’ll take the money.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“Elliott!” he insisted.
“It’s the only answer I can give you now, dad.”
I will be attending the Brooklyn Book Festival in Sept. I’ll be at the Down and Out table at least on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th.
I’ll confirm specifics and/or events as soon as possible but will be around for certain.
See you there?
A letter to my 20’s.
So, you’ve got guts and you’ve got a drive that no one in the world but you can understand. You have found your voice and wrote about what you knew then wrote about what you didn’t know shit about and then wrote some more and then again.
Amazing! Congratulations. You’re on the fast track to take over the literary world and shake things up, smash the walls, to hell with conventions and all hail the great (Canadian) writer.
Now that was cute, it is. The right word is…cute. So let me give you some advice while I can.
Because I’m 35 now and, well, here are three truths you could have learned at an earlier age and save yourself some pain of learning them later and then admitting to yourself in a very public post just how wrong you were back in the days.
You will need an editor.
You’re not that good. You’re not that bad either, but you’re definitely not that good. Sure you can fool yourself into thinking no one has ever written prose the way you handle it, and maybe you did find a voice that was sorta, kinda, maybe unique to you.
You still suck enough to need an editor. Not that you don’t write well, but there’s bullshit up in there, there’s filler and god forbid you EVER make a typo, right?
You will need an editor. Not just any editor, someone whom you respect and will call you on your crap. And you will send them your book thinking, “this is soooooo close to finished,” and when the manuscript will come back, you’re gonna want to quit the life altogether.
“That’s it,” you’ll think. “I’m done with this shit. Never again. Why did I bother in the first place?” You’ll mope around, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for a few days. Some of these pages weren’t as good as you thought they were.
And then you’ll get back to work, and maybe 90% of editorial comments will make it into your book, making it a much, much better book.
At one point you’ll learn to appreciate this process. You’ll do a lot more editing yourself and when you’re done with it, you’ll happily send it to someone you respect and tell them, “go ahead, massacre me.”
That’s how a book makes it from good to great (Thank BEN!)
You will follow the rules.
I know. I know. You’re still punk in your heart and following the rules is for suckers. But punk only really has three chords and maybe five songs when you really think about it, so what the fuck are you complaining about with rules.
So you will diligently use he said, she said. You will avoid adverbs at all costs and you will structure you writing.
Sure, that free verse poetry is fine and all. It’s cute. You’ll probably never write a Petrarchan Sonnet. But 90000 words don’t come so easy as some spur of the moment snowflake in a beautiful winter storm.
You want that shit to make sense, you better structure it. And guess what, people much smarter than you and much older than you already had figured it out hundreds of years before you walked this earth.
Of course the rebel in you will cringe at this, but let me tell you, and you’ll hate me for this, but the time you’re 35, you’ll be writing a five tome series where each book will be a cog in the Shakespearean five act tragedy structure (boring, right?) and each book is individually organized as a three act structure so that the reader will want to keep reading your shit. (Don’t worry you’ll still get to swear as much as you want.)
You will want a publishing deal.
Finally, you’re gonna want a publishing deal.
I know. You wrote against ANY PUBLISHING DEAL and about how the publishing industry was BULLSHIT and DEAD, so FUCKING DEAD. That was so very punk of you. You wrote that so many years ago in a VERY ANGRY post that managed to land on Huffington post that one time (so un-punk) but thankfully in French, and now every time you google yourself (you’ll do that too) it’s one of the first links up there and you just want to shoot yourself in the face. Or not.
This one’s not ENTIRELY black or white. One thing is for sure: don’t EVER sign a non-compete clause. Those are just bullshit and should belong to the past or a ditch somewhere north of Mont-Laurier.
You see, publishing houses are like people. Some are nice, some are assholes, indies can be both and majors, well, maybe. I don’t fucking know. But you’ve met great indies that offered super fair deals and shitty indies that could go fuck themselves and go bankrupt.
Still, YOU WILL WANT A PUBLISHING DEAL.
A nice one, from a good indie that cares about their writer and you’ve luckily met at least three of them in your short career, so keep hope.
Because you can’t do everything yourself. You really can’t. You’re terrible at selling your own shit. No one single person can properly handle the writing, the editing, the cover, the distribution, getting you to conventions or book fairs and handle publicity on your shit.
You’ll do a lot of that, don’t get me wrong, you’ll do a lot of everything. But you need help, especially you, my twenty-something me.
Besides, you’ll realize soon enough that even assholes aren’t always assholes. Work in this industry long enough, you’ll realize the margins are so thin and the risks are so great, it’s actually hard for anyone to make money in this business.
That’s it. For now at least.
Keep cursing like a sailor, some people actually seem to enjoy that.
Your mid 30’s self.
P.S. You will unknowingly fall asleep ten feet away from Harlan Coben on a mezzanine seat of the Orpheum theatre in New-Orleans during your very first convention because you couldn’t afford a second night in a hotel room. Tell you all about THAT some other time.
Dancing with a switchblade provides some of Truman’s most mature work to date where the burning rage of youth begins to make way to a better understanding of the trappings of the world.
Openly influenced by the likes of Al Purdy and Charles Bukowski, it combines influences from some of the world’s best lyricists in the likes of Henry Rollins, Trent Reznor or Johnny Cash.
This collection is a celebration of all things of life: hurt, pain, anxiety, beauty, love, fighting the good fight, sticking to what you know and doing more with less. Most of all, Dancing with a Switchblade is a celebration of the creative act of writing and hopes to provide an enduring snapshot of the working class today.
You can find it HERE! at ten poems a buck for over 100 pages of poetry for 2.99 US.