Two porcupines walk into a bar. No, wait. One porcupine walks into a bar. Well, actually, it's a poet. And he walks into a library. He opens books and shakes them until they look like porcupines dancing. He is looking for old photos to eat. He likes the salt taste of the chemicals. Chewing, he crawls oot. Toying with the confessional, Phil Hall's White Porcupine is a self-portrait of the artist from ages fifty to fifty-four. The creature of the title suggests (as in White Buffalo, White Whale, White Moose) the sacred primitive wild...though small...(a bit like poems); also, Death Itself (bugga-bugga); and snow rushing at the window of a moving car, years ago...tire-chains...fins; and greying hair, stubble chin; and honestly who doesn't bristle about getting old? and young St Sebastian, that doofus...naked, glowing, multi-skewered; and a black and white group photo outside a one room school house in winter...(there's mom!) each student a quill, with its name underneath. The punchline: White Porcupine is a long border-line-incomprehensible confessional poem about being miserable (oh boy!). Well, really it's about being a poet (even better!). Or, is it?
Phil Hall's first small book, Eighteen Poems, was published by Cyanamid, the Canadian mining company, in Mexico City, in 1973. Among his many titles are: Old Enemy Juice (1988), The Unsaid (1992), and Hearthedral Ð A Folk-Hermetic (1996). In the early 80s, Phil was a member of the Vancouver Industrial Writers' Union, & also a member of the Vancouver Men Against Rape Collective. He has taught writing at York University, Ryerson University, Seneca College, George Brown College, and is currently the Writer in Residence at Queen's University. He has been poet-in-residence at Sage Hill Writing Experience (Sask.), The Pierre Berton House (Dawson City, Yukon), & elsewhere. In 2007, BookThug published Phil's long poem, White Porcupine. Also in 2007. he and his wife, Ann, walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. He is a member of the Writers' Union of Canada, and lives near Perth, Ontario. Recent books include An Oak Hunch and The Little Seamstress. In 2011, he won Canada's Governor General's Award for Poetry for his most recent collection, Killdeer, a work the jury called "a masterly modulation of the elegiac through poetic time." Killdeer was also nominated for the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize, and won the 2012 Trillium Book Prize.