Quill and Quire

Book news

« Back to

Memo to Yann Martel: Now THAT’s how it’s done

Dedicated readers of Quillblog (among others) are no doubt aware of Yann Martel’s painfully earnest campaign to get Prime Minister Stephen Harper to inject a little stillness into his life. Every two weeks for the last two years, Martel has been sending an autographed copy of a recommended book to Harper, along with a letter. These letters “ which are compiled in the upcoming collection What is Stephen Harper Reading? Yann Martel’s Recommended Reading for a Prime Minister and Book Lovers of All Stripes (the subtitle of which confusingly conflates Harper and book lovers, but never mind) “ are literate, somewhat pedantic, and almost completely devoid of humour.

Not so Rob Taylor, a Vancouver-based poet who is engaging in a less well-publicized campaign to get James Moore, Canada’s minister of cultural heritage and official languages, to reverse an impending policy that would see funding cut for magazines with annual circulations of under 5,000 copies “ which would include virtually every literary magazine in this country. On March 13 of this year, Taylor sent Moore an open letter protesting the proposed funding cuts to small magazines. Taylor attached a poem he wrote for Moore, which he suggested the minister might print in his constituency newsletter. The poem read, in part:

You’re a few bricks short, a ten-second minute,
You’ve got a nice house, but there’s nobody in it.
You’re as thick as molasses, as sharp as a ball,
Your car’s cylinders just won’t fire at all.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Taylor never heard back. So he’s written to Moore again, and appended a second poem. His letter, posted to his blog, is a small satirical gem and includes Taylor’s thoughts on why he might not have received a response from Moore’s office:

I forgot to include a SASE with the submission. Maybe that’s the problem. I understand that budgets are tight everywhere, and it may be too costly for you to mail the reply (when automakers are only getting $4 billion in bailout money, you know times are tough!). So if that’s the case, I’ve attached a SASE with this letter.

It’s doubtful that either Martel or Taylor will have much effect on their respective targets, but at least Taylor is able to laugh a little while stirring his pot.