Start As You Will Go On, David Poolman (2004-5)

Past Puritan author (and Rusty Toque and Joyland editor) Kathryn Mockler discusses her poems (from way back in Issue 9: Winter 2010!) and the digital drawings and political unrest that inspired them.

“Global Warming” and “Gun Shots” are early versions of poems from my second poetry book, The Saddest Place on Earth (DC Books, 2012).

I started writing these poems in 2004, and the initial inspiration came from a series of digital drawings that my husband, David Poolman, was working on called Start As You Will Go On (2004-5).

After September 11th, I realized I wasn’t as informed as I should be about world events, so I made it my mission to know what was going on outside of my bubble. By 2004, I became particularly obsessed with the absurdity of the Iraq War and the media’s portrayal of it. The problem with being more informed is that it can lead to deep feelings of helplessness and despair, which I think set the tone for many of the poems in this collection. 

Around the same time, I read an article in Harper’s that quoted Donald Rumsfeld briefing his press secretary on how to deal with the media. He said: “Begin with an illogical premise and proceed perfectly logically to an illogical conclusion … They [the media] do it all the time.” So I took Rumsfeld’s  “advice” and used it to structure poems with the hope of recreating the feelings of confusion and disillusionment that I was experiencing.


Start As You Will Go On, David Poolman (2004-5)

In 2005, my husband and I were living in Des Moines, Iowa, and it was there that I wrote many of these poems, including “Gun Shots” and “Global Warming,” as well as the title poem. There was something about being in the heart of a mid-western American city that brought the ideas in this series to a head for me.

In the later poems, my concerns about the environment and the Harper government’s assault on it become the focus of my critique, but I try to deal with these issues with humour even though I don’t think they are very funny.

Harper’s recent gags on Canada—the muzzling of scientists and the burning of environmental archives—has resulted in another suite of poems in which I grapple with how our prime minister is so brazenly siding with corporations against his own people.


Kathryn Mockler is a writer and filmmaker. She is the author of The Saddest Place on Earth (DC Books, 2012) and Onion Man (Tightrope Books, 2011). Currently, she is the Toronto editor of Joyland: a hub for short fiction and the publisher and co-editor of the online literary and arts journal The Rusty Toque. She teaches creative writing at Western University.

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