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I will write past the page that occasions my end
by J.R. McConvey

age happened
speculative, fiction
more than half human

improved in some ways
backwards in look
and then state by state

things are more open
clamping down on anything
overall

just a person
a year and a half ago
nobody would believe

this specific story
keeping clean problems
despite many books

I couldn’t face
their waterfront still
for young people

untenable questions
running, threatened
a deluge of

communications
in the north, in nature
at the end of survival

fluff under the bed
stretches out, a novel
three or four years

I’m not going to talk
about things
I’m not finished

SOURCE: Interview with Margaret Atwood, Toronto Star (September 5, 2014).

PHOTO: Margaret Atwood by Marta Iwanek, Toronto Star, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  For Canadian writers, Margaret Atwood has attained the status of a deity. The process of her physical aging has been inversely proportional to the sense that she has attained a kind of unparalleled techno-literary immortality: she has mastered Twitter, invented a robotic arm to remotely autograph copies of her books, and recently signed on as the first author to have work archived in the Future Library. Much of the media attention given to the release of her new collection of stories, Stone Mattress, has centered on her age. (Atwood will turn 75 in November.) I find it interesting to ponder what mortality means to a writer whose legacy and spirit are certain to endure for at least 100 years, probably more. Does Atwood fear death? Does she experience age as an indignity, as many seem to, or does her acknowledged literary mastery contribute to a sense that she has mastered life itself, and is therefore more prepared to meet its end? Will she concede to death—or will she tell Thanatos himself to go stuff it as he meekly asks her to sign his copy of The Handmaid’s Tale?

JRM

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: J.R. McConvey is a writer based in Toronto. His fiction and poetry has appeared in Joyland, The Puritan, The Danforth Review, The Found Poetry Review, The Pulitzer Remix, The Broken City, and Paragon, and his journalism has been published in The Globe and Mail, The Walrus, The National Post, and other outlets. His stories have been shortlisted for the Matrix LitPOP award and the Thomas Morton Prize, and his novella, The Last Ham, was published as an e-book by House of Anansi in 2013. He is also a Genie and Gemini-winning writer and producer of documentaries, including the cross-platform National Parks Project. He is on Twitter @jrmcconvey and online at jrmcconvey.wordpress.com.