I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of poet David McFadden.
If you’re unfamiliar with his work start with the twitter account, The Poetry of David McFadden and then head over to Mansfield Press where you’ll find many of his books which Stuart Ross edited. I love his selected Why Are You So Sad? also edited by Stuart Ross published by Insomniac.
Here's an excerpt From his 2013 Griffin Poetry Prize winning book What's the Score? (Mansfield).
I have a little anecdote about David McFadden. He was the judge of the Great Canadian Haiku Contest run by Geist Magazine in 1997. Geist published the winners and runners up in the magazine. Shockingly I won, but once the readers saw the poems, they were furious I had won and not Gary Barwin who they thought had written a better poem. One of Gary’s poems was disqualified because it was one syllable over the 17, which readers thought was unfair.
They wrote in letters about how terrible my haiku was. They wrote things like “Kathryn Mockler’s haiku sucks”. Some suggested that I had cheated because David McFadden had written a poem about a canoe and my haiku had a canoe in it.
Some were mad because I hadn’t written about the right season: winter.
Others were mad I hadn’t written about hockey.
Most thought my haiku was boring.
Geist gave David McFadden the opportunity to respond to the letters which I think he did. Sadly, I can’t find the issue where most of the letters were published (Fall 1997 issue).
The poems were picked up by Utne Reader. Even the CBC got a hold of the story and called me for a quote about the controversy. It was very amusing.
And that was my 15-minutes of fame for being a terrible poet all thanks to the wonderful David McFadden.
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