Transcript: George Elliott Clarke on Jean Chretien | Apr 15, 2006

Clarke is in his forties and has dark black hair and a white and black beard. He
wears glasses, and a yellow shirt and yellow vest.

Clarke stands behind a podium.

The caption changes to "George Elliot Clarke. Author, ‘Illuminated Verses. Hart
House Library April 14, 2005."

Clarke says I'M
GONNA BEGIN WITH THIS POEM,
WHICH IS ACTUALLY WRITTEN - IT
WAS WRITTEN AND IT WAS
COMMISSIONED BY A CANADIAN
POLITICAL SCIENCE THINK-TANK,
WHATEVER...
UH, IN DECEMBER 2003 RIGHT AFTER
JEAN CHRETIEN RESIGNED AS PRIME
MINISTER, AND SO THAT'S THE
TITLE OF THIS POEM, "JEAN
CHRETIEN."
IT'S IN TWO PARTS.THE
FIRST PART IS "REVISED STANDARD
VERSION."
THAT'S THE TITLE.

Clarke reads "A FRANKENSTEIN MASKED MEECHING
ELFISH GHOUL, SKULKING IN A
GRAVEYARD OF PRIME MINISTERS,
ADMIRING HOW THEY BEGGED
ELECTIONS, OR DREADING HOW THEY
LATER GOT SACKED; THOSE
LUMBERJACKS HULKING IN SILK
SUITS, THOSE ATTORNEYS AWKWARD
IN BUCKSKINS, DEFINE THE
COUNTRY AS ONE MORE STRIP-MINE
AFTER ONE MORE LUCRATIVE
DEFORESTATION.
ALL CHRETIEN EVER WANTED WAS TO
JOIN THIS GOTHIC JUNKYARD OF
SHAT UPON STATUES, CLUTCHING THE
CRIMINAL CODE IN ONE HAND, A
GOLF CLUB IN THE OTHER WHILE
SLOSHING OUT RHETORIC THAT WAS
MARTINIS AND PABULUM DRIZZLED
OVER COOING MINISTERS.
SLICK, HE SLIPPED THROUGH CRACKS
AND BAD NEWS, AND POPPED UP
GLEAMING LIKE A TELEVANGELIST
WHILE ACTING LAURIER WITH AN
ALLEZ-UP SQUINT, THE
PETITE GAR ORATING:
C'EST DE LA
BULLSHIT.

[Audience laughter]

Clarke says HIS
SPEECH SPITTING A PEPPER SPRAY
CLARITY.
HIS CANADA WAS CAN'T AND CANNOT,
A PARLIAMENT OF LEPERS AND
PEONS, A POLITICS OF NOTHING
DOING, 'CAUSE DOING NOTHING
MEANS NOTHING'S WRONG.

[Audience laughter]

Clarke says HE WAS
THE PERFECT MIME OF A PRIME
MINISTER, CHOOSING TO ATE THE
MANNERISMS OF THE DEAD, TO
SHUFFLE ZOMBIE-LIKE INTO HISTORY
THROUGH A LABYRINTH OF FUNHOUSE
MIRRORS STUTTERING HIS FORGED
MISSHAPEN GREATNESS."
PART TWO.
HE WAS DEPRESSIVE, SWINISH,
FOOLISH, GARRULOUS, WRATHFUL,
CALCULATING, TRICKY, ORNERY,
ARROGANT, EXECRABLE, DIFFICULT,
VENGEFUL, PROFESSIONAL, SLY,
NARROW, BULL-HEADED, DEFT,
LAWYERLY, EGOTISTICAL,
DESPICABLE, VITAL.
AND HE WAS ALL OF THESE THINGS
EVERY SINGLE DAY OF EVERY SINGLE
ELECTION YEAR.

[Audience laughter]

Clarke says THEN,
HE GOT WORSE.

[Audience laughter]

Watch: George Elliott Clarke on Jean Chretien