Poem introduction

My father Tom Swift was a recording artist for London and Decca Records in the early 1960s in Canada and he never quite made it, although he had several top ten songs in Canada. One of the reasons was because they had battles of the bands on the radio and he would go up against 45 singles by The Beatles or Elvis and Elvis and The Beatles would always beat him. This poem was written after he died and I wanted to recall that aspect of him that was more positive in his troubled life, his beautiful voice. I open with a quote from Johnny Mathis, his favourite singer.

The Recording Artist

The Recording Artist

“Wonderful, wonderful” – Johnny Mathis

My father, among other things, was sometimes sad
And he also sang, just like Johnny Mathis, to us
At night, seated on the left hand of our pillowed heads

His face turned slightly upwards, gracefully, to the side:
The image and sound of him I had when he died –
So that, despite the many hours when he cried out

This memory, not the others, will rise to mind –
Not in order to prove that love is better than suffering
But to record, in my deepest groove, his tenor’s loveliness.


from Seaway: New and Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry, 2008), © Todd Swift 2008, used by permission of the author

Recordings

Todd Swift

Todd Swift Reading from his poems

2After riding the escalator back

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1A Ceremony of Carols at Cripplegate

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3Ballad of the Solitary Diner

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4Down from St John's Wood

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5Emperor

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6For the Boy in the Choir With Tourette's

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7French Poem

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8Gentlemen of Nerve

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9God has left us like a girl

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10Green Girl in Vermont

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11Hope, Maida Vale

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12I Think of Delmore Schwartz, Beside My Sleeping Love

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13In My Father's Briefcase

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14It's not a poem unless it's seen

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15Ivo, Marianopolis, 1984

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16Jean Talon, Intendant of New France, To The King

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17Library Going

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18Near St Ives

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19New Theology

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20Note to the Editor

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22Slieve Donard

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21Rainbow in Blackrock

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23Sonnet

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24Suitor

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25Taking Tea with Charles Bernstein

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26That Girl in Autumn

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27The Ailment

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28The Call

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29The More Deserved

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30The Recording Artist

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31The Safe Years

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32The White Kitchen

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33These Days

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34Tomsk

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35Trees

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36Water, Running

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37When all my disappointments came at once

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38Woman at a Station

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