Sunday, July 10, 2011

Greg Santos: Emperor of Solitude


Recently at an event at Goodenough College in London I was lucky to meet and hear a young Canadian poet from Montreal. The event which supported the work of numerous Canadian and British poets such as Todd Swift and Grahame Davies was held in the cozy confines of a Bloomsbury college for expatriate students and was a great success. The place was packed, the wine and fruit juice was free, too, which didn't hurt. The poet who caught my attention most was Greg Santos, launching a debut book of poetry, The Emperor's Sofa. Part of the reason that he caught my attention was that he was funny, a former actor, and was on an international book tour with his drinking buddies from Montreal. That can't be bad can it? Later at home I read his work and was impressed; while the book covers pop culture and Canadian identity and references those who have made cleverness and pop culture references their oeuvre, such as David McGimpsey and Stuart Ross, it has its own style, I think. The book moves on from Hulkamaniac poems, observational and also sarcastic, but always clever - like conversations with people who know each other too well (BFF) getting their bits in, to the more sobre territory of the imagined soul, or alter ego. In this case, in Greg's case it is The Emperor. There is a lot there about love, looking in from the outside, so how can you not feel for a heart, "a white butterfly mounted in an iron shadow box." However where the book gets its wings is in the Emperor Poems in the second half of the book. They are odd, great, like ghosts who inhabit an old room and so I add: "I appreciate this book, especially the idea of the slightly awkward, at odds with the world, Emperor soul rattling around in his castle, proclaiming his love, his heart for the world, from his iron prison."

Two new poems from Greg Santos:

The Fortress of Solitude
by Greg Santos
In the seat in front of me
A mother is traveling
With her toddler and infant.

I think of my own daughter
Who waved for the first time
Before I departed on this train.

The children are a welcome distraction
From the loneliness
Draped over my shoulders like a cape.

But not for long.
Missing my family
Is my kryptonite.

The Fortress of Solitude
Is a great place to put up my feet
And colour code my thoughts.

The interiors might be snazzy
But the acoustics in here suck.

The Great Hoarder

by Greg Santos
Sometimes when my wife and daughter are asleep
I feel like I am forever filling up an attic
with boxes of knick-knacks I’m not prepared to throw out
but have no clue what to do with.
I think of errands to run: I have to go to the bank,
diaper supplies are dangerously low,
we are out of milk and orange juice...
Other thoughts drift by like odd deep sea fish:
Will I be able to read all the books that are piling up?
My hair is getting too long. Does anyone read my poems?
I wander this dark attic when I cannot sleep,
thinking of friends I’ve lost touch with
and speak to ghosts in need of company.
They want to know what it’s like to be young
and laugh at my talk of being mired with responsibility.
Well, you haven’t changed diapers
while trying to write a status update, I say.
You’re lucky, I tell them, you don’t have to choose
between Apple and Android, Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus.
Go back to sleep, Greg, they say.
Those are questions for the ages.



Bio: Greg Santos is the author of The Emperor's Sofa (DC Books, 2010). He is the poetry editor of pax americana and is on the editorial board of the Paris-based literary journal, Upstairs at Duroc.

3 Comments:

Blogger Smiling Monkey said...

Great post, brilliant poems. Thanks

6:11 pm  
Anonymous Jim (and Kathy) said...

Informative and interesting post. I enjoyed Greg's poems! A very taltented young man.

3:42 pm  
Blogger annaken said...

I really enjoyed both your poems.

I wish you well in your writing career.

It is always so good when people make comments on work.

It shows that they read it and appreciate the time and effort put into doing it.

Well done, fellow Canadian from La Belle Province!

2:17 pm  

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