Montreal legend Artie Gold published only two books after his great outburst of creativity in 1974–79, and one of those was made up of poetry from the late 1970s; a big collection of his work is very welcome. Sadly, The Collected Books of Artie Gold is a posthumous compilation, as Gold died on Valentine’s Day, 2007, after years of debilitating respiratory illness.
Gold was heavily influenced by two Americans, Frank O’Hara and Jack Spicer, and there are whispers of Leonard Cohen in his work. His first book was completely derivative, but he quickly assimilated the American voices. Gold’s poems are protean: he can be delicate and gross, and his imagination thrives on daily life (as in the “I do this I do that” poems of his beloved O’Hara), but has a mythological reach as well. In the middle of the book are two amusing changes of pace: a set of poems about jockeys that take the visual form of horse-and- jockey, and a group of poems about his cherished cats. It is time for a good assessment of this writer – he shouldn’t remain merely a legendary figure – and The Collected Books will make such a valuation easier.
Bert Almon teaches a poetry masterclass with Derek Walcott at the University of Alberta. His most recent book is Waiting for the Gulf Stream (Hagios Press).