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Fraser Sutherland
poet, short story writer, essayist.
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Fraser Sutherland


Seen through the window
smoking, drinking, womanless,
they are doomed men.

I don't know what they do in there
or I do: the slap of cards,
the crash of dominoes.

The street has nothing to do with them,
doubly separate.
The flag on the wall has something.

They will probably go home at some point
but they may spend
the rest of their lives here,

earnestly melancholy,
knowing each other.



2 April 1999

It is Good Friday, though maybe not so good
because Serbs are bad.
We=re bombing them. We are doing good.

Since few doubt that Nazis were bad
we will compare Serbs to them.
Such comparisons are good.

Our bombing will help the Albanians,
who are good, whereas Serbs are bad and getting badder.
Yet despite precise and powerful good bombs
the Serbs insist on staying bad.

To assist Albanians we bomb their capital.
As humanist good humanitarians
we aid them as much as our budget permits
once they become good refugees.

The bridge over the Danube at Novi Sad
is a long way from Kosovo
but because bridge and river
are used by bad Serbs
we have destroyed it, which is good.

Through its long history Belgrade
was often turned to rubble,
which was sometimes good and sometimes bad.
When our missiles hit it now it=s good.

Bad Serbs have seized three good soldiers
and intend to put them on trial.
This looks bad, even for the Serbs.

In Kosovo the situation=s bad and getting worse.
Soon we may have to order our men
to die on bad ground
to prove how good we are.



In a small damp cave a Mayan maiden
is weaving a hammock just for you.
From large sharp spines she finds a shape,
with care she pleats the sisal.
The decisions of her fingers serve
your transit to and fro and back and forth.
Inside moist dimness her round brown hands
guard against your accidents,
how a pair of you could, like dogs,
become conjoined end to end,
not knowing how you got into this fix
or how to get out of it. She knows a hammock
can catch you up like a fishing net,
or turn you into a whirling spindle.
The Mayan maiden herself sits in a hammock.
She bends as it sways. The hammock she makes,
anchored to trees, will be a sieve for air
and keep you halfway to heaven.
You must trust to her hands, that what she does
Will bear and move the weight that's you.



My uncle, the one who never harmed anyone
except himself, the one whom a postal employee
informed me was Athe town drunk@, too
extravagant a title for this one-eyed quiet man,
the one whose wife, on coming home, found he=d put
a pan of chops to bake for our supper, and dumped them
on the lawn to the surprise but pleasure of their dog,
the uncle who gestetnered high school cribs and called
it AMaritime Extension College@, which might have succeeded had not
a partner cheated him, had he not a taste for failure, this dead uncle
Mr. Sachs always cited when he cut my hair.
Adolph was Mr. Sach=s first name, unpleasant reminder
of another European, whom he in no way resembled.
He was Czech, small, sleek, and dark, like a polite nutria,
his tidy shop annexed to his neat fine-boned wife=s
beauty parlour. When Mr. Sachs fetched up in this straitened stony town
my uncle took the trouble to teach him English.
Mr. Sachs might have been impressed that
someone took an interest in an emigrant.
At any rate, he was ever grateful.
My uncle, who so often expressed himself in negatives B
who did not leave his wife to chill out in their big hilltop house,
who did not, as he might have done, club her to death,
for once had stressed the positive.







Strange Ironies. Fredericton: Fiddlehead Poetry Books,1972

In the Wake of. Ottawa & Kingston : Northern Journey,1974

Within the Wound. Ottawa & Montreal : Northern Journey,1976

Madwomen. Windsor : Black Moss, 1978. With an introduction by Al Purdy

Whitefaces. Windsor : Black Moss, 1986 Translated as:

Bledoliki. In Slike iz Kanade: Tri kanadska pesnika. Nis , Serbia : Studenski kulturni centar, 2005

Jonestown: A Poem. Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, 1996

Peace and War: Poems. Toronto , 1998. (With Goran Simic).

The Matuschka Case: Selected Poems 1975-2005. Toronto: TSAR Publications, 2006

Manual for Emigrants. Toronto: Tightrope Books, 2007. With cover and drawings by Oleg Lipchenko.


In the Village of Alias. Porters Lake , N.S. : Pottersfield,1986


The Style of Innocence: A Study of Hemingway and Callaghan. Toronto : Clarke, Irwin, 1972

John Glassco: An Essay and Bibliography. Downsview, Ont.: ECW,1984

The Monthly Epic: A History of Canadian Magazines. Markham, Ont.: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1989

The Making of a Name: The Inside Story of the Brands We Buy. (With Steve Rivkin) New York : Oxford , 2004



Canadian Who's Who
Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada
Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature


If by chance you come here to make art you are in for a surprise.

We may give you grants but no one will listen to you.

There's too much static, the din of media. If it takes you up, it will turn your art into something else, our noise.

Art needs things we cannot supply you with.

Like a thug in power who will not let you speak and, should you speak, will kill you for a word.

Like the streams of blood an artist needs to sate a vampire's appetite.

Long ago we did the killing we had to do. We lost that material.

Artists don't need grief counsellors. They need unhappy childhoods.

Art needs a civil war. Which does not happen unless you bring us one.

This is why you're not wanted.

This is why we don't have art.

Which is a good thing.

Fraser Sutherland
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Fraser Sutherland readings in Clinton's Tavern, Toronto

Part I          Fraser reads his poems "Bad Habits", "From the Hospital Bed", and "Mosquitoes"

Part II          Fraser is reading his poem "Heathbell School Reunion"
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