Hollywood Poems

In September 2020 Philip Cairns asked me to write an introduction to Hollywood Poems – a collection of his writing. He sent me an advance reading copy & here is what I wrote:

“Philip’s Disney sweetheart was Annette Funicello, mine was Haley Mills. He exalts in Anita Ekbert, I was enthralled by Brigette Bardot. You might ask – what’s with gay guys & obscure female film stars? In his Hollywood Poems Philip explores that question in a series of tender odes which reveal as much about him as it does about the objects of his fandom. The Bedbug Blues pieces are funny & bitingly true.

The poems are like quilts stitched together with contrasting swatches of the fabric of his life, patterns get repeated, images emerge & a person appears. They are like meeting up with a chatty friend who tells charming stories with tangents that sometimes connect to each other but always connect to life. The style is Frank O’Hara meets Walt Whitman – amiable, comfortable, inviting & emotionally resonant.”

1990

I met Philip way back in 1990 when he was cast in Bushwack Theatre’s production of T-Shirts. One of his lines, that I still remember, was ‘I was never a cute kid.’ Which really summed up the way many gay men felt about themselves. He delivered it with sincerity. He became a valuable member of the Bushwack company of performers, & was featured in many of its productions over the nine years that the company lasted. 

After Bushwack ended we sort of lost touch for several years. I retuned to full force to my own writing & became involved in the Toronto spoken-word world, in which the out gay male perspective was seriously under-represented. I encouraged Philip to hit some of the many open stages. He found them somewhat homophobic but persisted.

Eventually he, along with myself, Lizzie Violet & others formed The Beautiful and Damned collective which ran a monthly performance series for two years at various venues. We rotated hosting, lined up features & musicians. It was great fun while it lasted.

I heard many of the pieces in Hollywood Poems when they were first performed at various readings, when of course, one could go to readings. You can get the book on Amazon. Check out his web page. 

HOLLYWOOD POEMS , www.philipcairns.com 

For more about him, The Beautiful and Damned, & Lizzie Violet take a search stroll through the TOpoet archives.

from may 2008

Ready

the ignored alarm

the heeded bladder

the rotation of cereals

kiwi a radical change

strawberries 

blueberries grapes bananas

different yet consistent

rotation from what is there 

to what is there now

the ritual with water 

the seasonal changes of view

but still the same view

the email check 

the rotation of  shoes undies

the clack of spoons

ring of phones

expected voices

expected scatter of opportunities

land in the same places

different days

yet the same days

this on the first Friday

this on the second Monday

a trusted structure

to give balance to the routine

never identical 

but always the same

does it need variation

can the little books be left out one day

consistency and variation

brief departures

make routine so welcome

enjoy more and more

what doesn’t happen every day

if it did 

pleasure would be gone

opportunity isn’t the aphrodisiac

or  is it

time memory fluctuations 

flow

picture of the innocent lie

the flavour of oranges

the melt of chocolate

the squirm of recognition

the long to muss hair

how can the hands keep reaching

each morning out of the bed

follow the slopes of the day

that rolls back to the same bed

to the same sleeping moments

dreams lost to bladder

secure consistent 

ready to ignore the alarm

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