Next in our series of Torontoist Poetry Contest poems of Honourable Mention is “In Transit” by Peter O’Donovan. Other poems that received Honourable Mention are “Velocity,” by Jenny Sampirisi and Matthew Tierney‘s “The Man who Knew from Cool“; Prathna Lor’s “((de)fragmentation.)” is coming soon. Our winning poem was “Eaton’s Effluviad” by Gregory Betts.
Peter O’Donovan grew up in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. He completed a Computer Science degree in 2005 at the University of Saskatchewan, and moved to Toronto a year later.
By day, he works downtown for an IT company; evenings, he studies film at York University. Moments in between are devoted to writing for a local poetry workshop. “In Transit” is his first published poem, and we look forward to seeing more of his work. Congratulations on a wonderful debut, Peter!
Peter says that at first glance, his poem may not seem to be about Toronto, but it was literally fashioned from the city itself. He used text found on TTC billboards, warning notices, and instructional signs. The poem was written on numerous tired commutes between York and downtown: while standing on a crowded bus, he “began staring at the words of the advertisements around me, and probably because of my exhaustion or the bus’s inferior shocks, the phrases began to blend together.” At home, he’d sift through the pages of his notebook, and re-arrange the found text.
Peter adds that the cut-up piece “that eventually took shape couldn’t help referring to its origins, to the movement of the bus through the streets.”
Please read Peter O’Donovan’s “In Transit” after the break.
Photo of Peter O’Donovan courtesy of the author.
by Peter O’Donovan
Try long hours of moving back
A little further lost
In the consolidation of light.
Moving is a manageable debt,
To your quarter century of sleep,
To your covenant with the street.
Run or walk or ride for
What else can you do
With your old tokens?
Out on the nation’s smooth skin
Transferable persons loan their blood.
You pass. Get smart. Get a job.
Charge a discount price for a mad dog
Or the old Christmas cure for cancer.
Do you not speak for months,
Waiting for your bank machine
To dispense a secret?
Hold the doors.
A last exit request.
A new mix shuffle in.
A little further back please.
You may be requested to vacate
This unlimited distance.