This past summer I spent a week in Montréal with my brother. As for any trip we make to a new city, we spent some time researching what hidden, literary history we could uncover to better make sense of the city’s draw for writers and artists. We found plenty of used bookstores (some English, some French), a collective of young, upcoming writers brought together by Metatron Press, and the publishing power-house of beautifully made graphic novels, Drawn & Quarterly. But nothing was so mysterious as a lost webpage dedicated to the history of a local group of poets, known as the Vehicule Poets. Throughout the 70s, they led weekly readings, held exhibitions in gallery spaces and cultivated their own style of video-poetry. Browsing through what sparse relics of their existence we could find online, the poems of Artie Gold (though we found few), which approached us with effortless sincerity. These were the kinds of poems that turned with a single breath from casual flippancy to the casual heart of all being. Though centered in Montréal, his influences stemmed from the San Francisco Beat and New York scenes: carving out a style all his own while taking his spontaneous inspiration from the likes of Frank O’Hara, and Jack Spicer.
As we dug through book stacks and criss-crossed from Downtown, to the Latin Quartier, to the Mile End, no evidence of his archived and published works could be found. The Word, an underdog of a bookshop, an auxiliary of McGill University, our only hope to find a remnant of the Vehicule, turned out to be our best bet. Upon asking about Artie Gold, the owner and founder of the store, Adrian King-Edwards led us to a special sign reading: Rue Artie Gold. Apparently The Word was a home to Gold between the store’s conception and his passing. He would often spend his days lingering around the store as if he was the proprietor. It was clear to us his absence was felt at this local store; it took form in King-Edwards’ solemnity when discussing his friend’s work. We gladly (and humbly) took home his collected and selected works, our meager introduction to the poet. I’d recommend taking the time out to search for his work, a clear introduction for me is his “5 Jockey Poems,” which transcend the archaic confines of concrete poetry and speak to that magic and anxiety of the craft, to which all poets can relate.