I met Michael Dennis through poetry — to be exact, through the poetry section in Trent University’s student newspaper — Arthur.
I was sharing an apartment with Riley Tench. Riley’s story is yet to come, but here’s the significance — Riley was the Poetry Editor of Arthur … he was the Gateway … and the Exit.
I would sit with Riley, in the kitchen with the piano, and we would go through each week’s submissions — those desperate fools wanting to get onto the poetry page.
We would argue — test each other’s choices — defend our choices vigorously in face of derision and cold indifference with nothing less than our hardest smite/ kaleidoscopic insight. Enough … this is about Michael.
Riley and I could agree on one thing — Michael Dennis was terrible. He couldn’t spell — apparently despised grammar, and was deeply embarrassing — he didn’t do poetry — he dug in a little too far. No Good — Delete.
We sent back his poems — marked up — nasty bitchy comments written all over it — we had a hoot.
New submissions would arrive from Michael — each better than the last. Responding to the good stuff and ignoring the rest. Humbling stuff.
We were impressed. The catty bitchy stuff was tempered — never fully ignored, never fully given up but … all of the Peterborough Poets took hammer blows at each other over poetry — you can’t cut it, then cut out — but Michael Dennis’ poems grew in front of us.
We were converts. Michael joined us at our impromptu poetry readings — that would be when we climbed onto the tables in the student bar and took over the room — entertain or die scenario — and Michael did not die.
We heard — a silent room listen while Mike read a poem — we heard a whole lotta hearts listening. The room was quiet, and beating.
Michael is from the heart. He does not play (of course he does, he’s a poet) he does not play with you (he’s a poet/revolutionary /mischievous imp/just man — of course he will play with you) but he will love you each and every moment — and never mistreat you.
One more thing —Mike knows me better than anyone outside of my family. He roamed the world a long time, being a poet, before returning to Canada — something like that — this is not an exact history — and during that time Mike and I wrote to each other constantly. That would be before e-mail — actual, physical letters.
When you write letters there is intimacy. You tell stories/histories to each other, what is what/what is not, have the time to polish and express what you want to say — cut out what isn’t important and include what is.
I can barely express the joy Michael’s letters brought me — each envelope brought me that world out there — that world waiting for me and you — that world, right out there — in front of your front door.
Michael is from the heart. His poems do not waver from that vision. His poetry is deeply personal and he invites you to share with him your heart — here is his — are you willing to read this letter? — this poem? — this life? — because here it all is— open it/read it.

Facts: Michael has 27 books/chapbooks of his poetry published. His blog is michaeldennispoet.blogspot.ca

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