I set out from the UK with seventy copies of Excisions and forty copies of Breastless distributed between my checked case and my carry-on. Arriving in Boston, it was suggested that I was a geologist/rock-collector. En route from Boston to Montreal this was modified. ‘This is heavy!’ exclaimed the kind and very strong young woman who somehow managed to get my carry-on into the overhead locker, ‘I’ll bet it’s full of beauty products’. I smiled.
My host here is the wonderful Jean-Pierre Routy. Jean-Pierre is a doctor at the Royal Victoria Hospital and a Professor at McGill University Health Centre. He is a haematologist who has spent thirty years specialising in HIV and AIDS. He is also very interested in art, food, hermeneutics and how to live well. The best kind of medic, and a terrific friend.
Jean-Pierre has generously shown me around Montreal, and we have engaged in some wonderful conversations about poetry, art, doctoring, writing (he published a book last year entitled Ce que le SIDA a changé, an intensely readable must-read for anyone interested in the cultural history of this disease of our time). And we have talked about ways of reimagining illness. We have also eaten very well indeed at his house and in various restaurants, whilst plotting my return visit for a presentation of Self-portrait without Breasts at McGill…
Inspired by two expeditions to the Grolier Poetry Bookshop in Cambridge MA, which took a couple of copies of Excisions, I’ve continued my explorations of the poetry bookshops of North America. The first evening here I made a quick visit to the super-friendly Argo Bookshop at 1915 Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, where another Jean-Pierre took two copies before closing for the long weekend (today is Canadian Thanksgiving). I am scattering seeds.
Tomorrow morning: on by train to Toronto!