Guest post by Trillium nominee Nick Thran: “I am more acutely alive”

In searching for trillium pictures to go along with these guest posts by Trillim nominees, I came across a beautiful old book called Wild Flowers Every Child Should Know, by Frederic William Stack. Describing the trillium undulatum shown here, Stack says it is “one of the commonest and most striking of its clan. It loves to dwell beside cool, trickling brooklets, and in shady dells in rich, damp woods where it blossoms during May and June.” You can see the book page by page at Open Library. I love that the first image is the misunderstood dandelion.

But before you go off in search of wildflowers, please read the “posto” below. Thank you to poet Nick Thran for this delightful contribution. His second book, Earworm, published by Nightwood Editions, is up for the poetry award. Good luck Nick! (Oh dear, and Helen Guri and Jacob McArthur Mooney, too …)

Nick writes:

My wife and I are crashing at a friend’s house at the moment. Our friend lives here with her brother, her sister-in-law, and their three-year-old boy. Apparently this boy, deep in the throws of his first blush with speech, likes to add mysterious ‘o’s to the ends of his words. He goes to the schoolo. He swims in the poolo. Pure play? Signs of a future affinity for the Italian language? Whatever it might be, Dennis Lee gets it:

Mumbo Jumbo

Christopher Columbo

I’m sitting on the sidewalk

Chewing bubble gumbo

Always has. I don’t remember my very first encounter with the poetry collection Alligator Pie. But those sound patterns made one giant “stain on my brain” right from the get-go.  I also think that part of the work Lee’s adult collections do is re-reveal much of the higgledy-piggledy underneath eloquent speech. So when, in Riffs, he says something like “It’s living I flubbed. But mouth to mouth I could sometimes ache into words” I am more acutely alive as the man upstairs trying to articulate something grownup and meaningful to his beloved on a second-year wedding anniversary card. But I’m also alive as this little boy one floor down—maybe bashing a toy elephant’s head against a toy zebra’s head; maybe singing a not-quite-discernable song at the edge of the bathroom sink whilst he stands on the wooden foot stoolo.

Nick Thran is the author of one previous collection of poetry, Every Inadequate Name (Insomniac Press, 2006). His poems have appeared in numerous publications across Canada, including: Arc, The Best Canadian Poetry 2010, Geist, Maisonneuve, Matrix, The National Post and The Walrus. Since growing up in western Canada, southern Spain and southern California, Nick has spent the last few years living in Brooklyn, New York and Toronto.

Trillium Jury Comment: From painted railroads to post-apocalyptic pineapples to walk-off homers, Nick Thran’s Earworm listens in on all of our irreducible, inane, and iridescent obsessions, and then responds. Here is an answer to why poetry matters, to how alchemical stanzas can turn experience to gold. Earworm is just as likely to make you cry as laugh, long and loud.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Guest post by Trillium nominee Nick Thran: “I am more acutely alive”

  1. Ann T

    Perhaps the little boy has read Dennis Lee. Remember “She met a mosquito, called him “my Sweet-o,” and married him under the moon.”
    I’m going to look for Earworm. Sounds appealing-o.

  2. Marilyn

    I’m really sorry about the strain on you brain from the “get-go”….(that word is my personal biggest pet peeve). But I sure liked your comments about Alligator Pie.

    • Maybe the get-go-go would be better? I remember when N was little, she always used to say Peterbororo for Peterborough. It stuck (like regliar for regular and aminal for animal and gradilation for graduation), and we still call it that. Wonder if there is any chance of an official name change?

  3. Ann T

    Ah yes, gotta love those! E used to say hossabow for hospital and crinimal for criminal. The brain sorting out all the loops and swirls of language 🙂 It’s kind of too bad in a way that we eventually do sort them out-o.

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