Zine Review: As I Sat On My Dead Grandmother’s Knee

Poetry zine, Cornelius P. McStone, 32 pgs, McStone & McStone Publishers, 18 Davenport Rd. Suite 1006, Toronto, ON, M5R 3M3

The first poem in this collection is essen­tially about drinking 9,619,432 peoples’ piss, though I feel like Cornelius’ math is a little off. Maybe the exact number isn’t that important, because either way it sets the tone pretty effectively for the rest of this playful read.

Apparently the author is over 65, lives in Toronto, and has been written about in the New York Times Book Review. A lot of his poems allude to his age, and his sense of humour about this is brutal, cold, and somehow simultaneously comforting and human. If anything though, this zine is worth reading for the written exchange, printed herein, between his daughter’s neighbour and himself. The neighbour sent a letter requesting that they trim their backyard tree to prevent “eventual pre­cipitation run off and eavestrough conges­tion”. Cornelius’ response (“[for intestinal and eavestrough congestion], the answer is a good purgative and a scoop”) is one of my favourite things I’ve read in a while.

Not everything in this collection hits the mark for me, but the author is clearly having a grand ole time making it, which makes for an uplifting, light read. At least that’s my take-away. If I lived in Toronto I would definitely NOT miss the chance to see him read. I can almost guarantee that it would rule. (Stéphane Doucet)