Robert Priest


Writing Philosophy


Introduction (or why I wrote this)

from The Mad Hand

Being a poet I must do my rounds, checking up on language, finding out the dead words, re-exploding the holy dynamites, keeping the reverberations and musics fresh. As a Priest it is also my job to let the light in, to be a reflector, to open up curtains. Sometimes a word is too rigid--like an icon--it blocks the light of its own origin, it doesn't shine through. So I have to soften it up a bit, throw it into the corner and find out where its weak spots are, batter it until it falls away like an empty mask. I picture myself as a kind of scientist mixing around the mental elements, distilling them and exploding them, looking for answers in the inkblots, hoping to reveal the roots of certain patterns, strings of words, prayers, curses hoping to take the masks off things. Everything though is totally by chance--I'm mixing chemicals like a blind man with paint, never knowing which colour I will set off next. Also I am trying to break out of my own silence. The violence here is never towards you--it is only towards the language and the ideas.

Finally I wrote this book because this life is the only one we have and I wanted to answer to the charge that poets always criticize. I wanted to plaster the propagandas together into mad tirades of affection, re-activate old hopes, suggest buildings, methods, means to profit by love and love-making, genuine and holy. At the same time I am also an antenna and a barometer--a singing barometer, a kind of tenor radar sending out these bleeps with love ... with love ... hoping for the best.

Read a selection of Robert's poems at Canadian Poetry Online
Writing Philosophy
or how I write

The Milton Acorn Memorial People's Poetry Award, 1989
Special Choice Award, Children's Book Centre, 1993
Socan Airplay Award, 1994
Chalmer's Award, Theatre for Young Audiences, 1998

416 466-0047

197 1/2 Jones Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada, M4M 3A2 If you want to book Robert as a singer/songwriter call 416 466-0047 or email

All intellectual property on this website including lyrics, music and recordings is copyright 1979 - 2018 Robert Priest. All rights reserved.