“It ain’t me, babe. No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe. It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for.”—Bob Dylan, “It Ain’t Me Babe,” Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)
I’ve been approached on numerous occasions by English-rights activists who’ve been moved by my poetry. They seem to think I might like to join their cause. These situations always leave me feeling profoundly torn. Every writer wants to be read. And every writer wants to move readers. So naturally I’m delighted. But I’m also saddened. Because I have no real interest in joining their cause. I love it here in Quebec. I don’t feel oppressed. And I have absolutely no intention of leaving.
When I tell them this, ever-so-gently, an awkward silence ensues, followed by a painful distancing. It’s like the very ground beneath our feet has split open along some sort of ancient fault line. I can feel a deep chasm spreading out between us. From the other side of the abyss comes a sad, plaintive voice: “But, but, John, I thought you were one of us.”
“I was that day. Sorry, man.”
Strange as it may sound to regular readers of the paranoid Montreal Gazette, I’ve only been pissed off about The Language Issue™ three times in the last ten years. My response? I didn’t cry: “That’s it, enough’s enough, I’m moving to Toronto!” Nope, I did what any self-respecting, fiercely patriotic Montrealer would do: I turned my pain into art: I wrote a poem. No joke. I’ve written three poems inspired by The Language Issue™ in the last decade: “From Here”, “Wild Black Raspberries”, and “Why I Loved Latin at Twelve”. Each time, when I was done with the poem, I was done with being pissed off.
It ain’t me, babe. I ain’t the angryphone you’re lookin’ for.
—John Faithful Hamer, The Myth of the Fuckbuddy (2016)