All I can say about Ian is that after being at Naropa in ’77, and experiencing that poetic fervor, with Ginsberg, Burroughs, Corso present and all that the Kerouac school inspired, Arlett in Peterborough or — wherever he might happen to be — was the real thing.

He’d wake in the morning, pick up a Globe and Mail, and write a dead-on poem about whatever happened to be on the front page that day.

To my mind, Ian Arlett is a poetry god, and could easily compete for greatest Canadian.

The Arlett line I remember is: “for all the cedars in Lebanon” — not sure why this is — and yet I see that it’s altogether biblical and no doubt it was applied incisively to a contemporary injustice.

We really came together over the production of Dylan the play. I can likely send you a picture of the poster. The whole thing was huge.

Ian used the Ordinary Studio as one staging base for the play. From beginning to end we were in touch daily. It’s not too far fetched to say that his persona and love affair at the time were intimately echoed: Dylan (David Ramsden) and Caitlin (Ian’s first lady). The play in 12 acts was a massive achievement mustering the entirety of Peterbourgh’s creatives in an incredibly skillful way.

At the time, Ian and I had a serious falling out over the price of the poster… might have been $300, and yet Ian was upset, that out of all the players in Dylan, I was the only one being financially rewarded — I thought we were making an outstanding poster largely driven by all the creative energy swirling around the production of the play — Ian was flip-city that money was involved at all.

Ian Arlett, as I romance him, lived like Dylan Thomas, completely outside the box, and therefore could speak about all of us inside the box, with so very much fucking precision.

Last time I saw Ian was at a poetry night at Ordinary. I wanted Arlett there and sought him out. I recall Michael drove him back to T.O. in my car that night which never made it back to the Patch because the dashboard oil light was not working. That ’68 Dodge Valiant died forever unfortunately — but having Ian read was more than worth it!

Ken Wallace

(the Dylan poster)

dylan–poster

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