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McCann to read from new poetry collection June 21 in Cobourg

Marcus McCann will give a book launch reading from Shut Up Slow Down Let Go Breathe on Wednesday, June 21 in Cobourg.

Marcus McCann will give a book launch reading from Shut Up Slow Down Let Go Breathe on Wednesday, June 21 in Cobourg.

Review by Ashley Bouman

The title of Marcus McCann’s latest poetry book also serves as a set of directions for how you should read the collection; Shut Up (be quiet and go to a quiet space), Slow Down (read it in one sitting, you’re not going anywhere important), Let Go (the words are magical, read them thoughtfully and use your imagination) and Breathe (like meditation).

The poems read like a mantra and the book is the perfect prescription for rest and relaxation. An ideal read this Summer whilst hanging out in a hammock in the afternoon sun, or under the shade of a beach umbrella (at a secluded beach of course) or better still, when it’s raining at the cottage and you need a mindful indoor activity to pass the time.

Standing in the sunshine on the sidewalk right after I first put my hands on a copy of Shut Up Slow Down Let Go Breathe, I had to begin to satisfy my curiosity about its contents.

I read the first poem, Lyric for a Little Lullaby. I was immediately transported back to the days I was in my early 20s, living in Toronto, constantly riding the TTC to job interviews. Every day, I dealt with the incompetence of that public transportation system because there weren’t any other options for me. This poem brought me back to the frustration that so many TTC commuters have on a daily basis. The connection I felt reading this first poem made me know I was going to enjoy this book.

McCann’s work is a must for any lover of poems. Gritty, truthful and witty, each piece reads well. These are poems about the everyday, poems that are “relatable” in so many ways.

McCann writes eloquently. In some instances it is like a diary written in sonnets; in others, we get several words clustered together as speculation and commentary on his life. All of it is raw and real. You feel the emotion on every page, in each word. The symbolism is outstanding and the word-play is very imaginative.

I enjoyed the breaking the fourth wall in On Not Being Able to Sing “a poem about Marcus McCann written by Marcus McCann.” Another poem -- called Wreck of a Street Racer, Etobicoke -- made me think of the car they place in front of schools to teach students the perils of drinking and driving -- now a modern spin would be texting while driving.

Two other pieces, Cover Letter and Resignation Letter, are placed far enough apart that readers have the impression they are following the timeline of a career. Filament, Branching Out is quite a sensual poem, with its hirsute description, and it flows nicely with another entry, Sex at Thirty-One. Elsewhere, in Zombie Apocalypse Kit, we are made to realize that necessities of life -- water, food, etc. -- are less important than bashing brains in.

Take a deep breath. Find a quiet spot. Read through the book, think deeply about the words and contemplate the meanings. You are guaranteed to find several poems that are profoundly relatable to your life. Then take a nap.

Meet at 66 King East will host Marcus McCann as he gives his Cobourg book launch reading from Shut Up Slow Down Let Go Breathe (Invisible Publishing) on Wednesday, June 21.

This reading is part of our Town’s first-ever LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations and will feature two other renowned Canadian poets, Nancy Jo Cullen and Autumn Getty.

The event begins at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7:00). Admission is free. Everyone is welcome. The evening is sponsored by {poetry in Cobourg spaces}, Pride Northumberland and PFLAG.

Ashley Bouman is the Chapter Leader of the Cobourg/Port Hope PFLAG