Winnipeg Free Press has fun with Sitcom

By Maurice Mireau
Winnipeg Free Press
November 25, 2007

A lot of Canadian poets are rediscovering traditional forms these days, but few of them are having as much fun as Montreal writer David McGimpsey.

His fourth book, Sitcom (Coach House, 112 pages, $17), reveals a rabid obsession with TV shows like Hawaii Five-O and The Golden Girls. And yet every section begins with an epigraph from a highly serious source, like Timon of Athens or An Essay on Man, and includes sonnets and blank verse.

A sonnet called 14 Episodes summarizes an episode of the sitcom Joey in each line. An abecedarium, or alphabet poem, has all 26 lines ending with the word poi (yes, Jack Lord's involved, and his nemesis Wo Fat: "woe unto Wo Fat's sweet side dish of poi").

McGimpsey, who has the poet's standard doctorate in English to go with his experience as a standup comic, is never happier than when juxtaposing high with low culture. For example, in B-/C+, a professor's commentary on a student paper: "W.H. Auden/ sadly died in 1973,/ a full five glorious years before/ WKRP in Cincinnati aired."

If this book's not a Griffin prize finalist, then future juries will have to be rigged to include more TV-watching poets.

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