This week we would like to present a longer poem by Canadian writer and musician Dylan Jewers. “Teacher Student” portrays the relationship between a writer and his mentor. It contains moments of wit, humour, and poignancy and is a situation to which we here at Words, Pauses, Noises feel that any writer, new or veteran, will be able to relate.
Together we sat at the
solid oak bar of Celtic Corner;
he, the Academic, 42 year old published son
of our Province’s most celebrated writer,
myself, anti-academic, 23 year old unpublished son
of a Dartmouthian pugilist,
and talked of my writing.
Of my chances.
Of form and approach,
influence & motivation.
We sat drinking the pint of the day
which I believe was Clancy’s
but who can remember?
During our previous meeting he dissected my work at the
Portland St. Tim Hortons,
picking apart sentences and paragraphs,
looking for answers and
giving me school-teacher sayings
which were intended to be pointers.
I was pleased he took time out of his
truly busy life to sit with me,
a young man he had no reason to mentor.
I was pleased he saw enough merit in my work
at first pass to read all seven stories.
“Stories” I should say, for my tales are not fiction.
This, he said, was evident to him and that gave him worry.
Worry may not be the word
for how much could he care?
However, he warned me to tell stories,
not “stories” for the reader doesn’t give
two fucks about my life.
He wrote down authors he believed I’d enjoy.
I’d heard of none of them.
I asked him if he had read Saroyan.
He had never heard of him.
I had read some of his pieces. The form was there.
I understood why they were published
but they did very
little for me.
I didn’t tell him that
but he most likely assumed,
knowing, I’m quite sure,
what it means to be a cocksure prick in his early twenties.
At Celtic Corner,
after the writing talk was finished,
after the talk of publishing houses
and the like,
I asked him who he liked more
Al Purdy or Milton Acorn?
“Milton Acorn,” he said.
“Purdy may very well be the better poet but that wasn’t your question.”
We quietly watched Golden State on the TV
and then gushed about Steph Curry,
Spoke of Montreal winters,
the hotel business…..
We stepped out for a cigarette,
he watching while I puffed and spat,
Bob’s Taxi parked out front,
skids at Alderney waiting for the 59, 60, 61, 63, 68.
I told him my plan to start a literary journal.
He let out a tiny laugh and said “That’s excellent.”
Me, flicking my smoke in the gutter, curious about the humour in my statement.
We sat back down and finished our pints.
He asked if I wanted another and
I said “Only if yer buyin.”
I understood his laughter then.
This poem stands out for its dry, self-deprecating look at the writer’s situation as well as its charming portrayal of the awkwardness that can arise between writers of different generations. It also does an excellent job of showing the camaraderie that can exist between any pair of writers, even those that have their difference.
Thank you for reading and please come back next week for two more excellent poems by Dylan Jewers. If would like to see your work appear on Words, Pauses, Noises, please head on over to our submission guidelines.