Arts & Entertainment
1 min

Author Billeh Nickerson is sweeter than you think

Nickerson reads at the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival, Oct 21-22

I always had a suspicion that author and long-time friend Billeh Nickerson was far sweeter than his salty stage presence would first have you think.

Confirmed fact: he prefers hot fudge sundaes with nuts over the beloved pickle. Or in his words: “Are you asking me to choose between a condiment and a dessert? Really now. The fucking sundae.”

His new book, McPoems, also seems to support my “sweeter-than-you-think” conclusion.

In theory, poetry and fast food are about as appealing together as a cigarette-butt milkshake. But this collection finds Nickerson focusing on a thought-provoking exploration of the carbonated highs and greasy lows of life behind the counter, one customer/co-worker at a time.

“Over two million Canadians eat at a fast food restaurant each day,” explains Nickerson. “It struck me as odd that nobody wanted to write about that experience without hyperpoliticizing it. Plus, in all my years of teaching and editing, I can only think of one poem that I’ve encountered on this subject.”

The poems in this collection are quick, tasty meals themselves: fastpaced snapshots of what could be considered to be one of the most universal cultural experiences in North America.

Nickerson’s earned his right to this material. In Langley he worked “at a particularly well-known fast food restaurant for a year and a half during [his] last year of high school and a bit afterward.” He even won an Outstanding Employee award.

If you’re still not sure about a Nickerson serving of poetic fast food, wrap your mouth around this:

Hot Apple Pie

Burns your tongue so badly
you can’t taste anything
three days later
when you order another.

Billeh Nickerson.
Oct 21-22 at the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival.
Writersfest.bc.ca/2009festival.