This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

July-August 2016

Celebrating our Literary History

In honour of our third annual Summer Reading Issue and our 50th Anniversary Year, we've dug into the archives to unearth some of our favourite fiction and poetry

This Magazine Staff

Our July/August Third Annual Summer Reading Issue is on newsstands now! To celebrate our literary history in our 50th anniversary year, this summer we’re also re-publishing a bunch of archived poetry and fiction. This week, we present “Noah on the 17th Day,” a poem from Iain Deans, published in our May/June 2003 issue. Check out our special bonus content below: an interview with Deans conducted by then Literary Editor Sheila Heti—a This Magazine editor who, like many, has gone on to great things, including publishing the acclaimed novel How Should a Person Be? Stay tuned for more great writing from the archives!

By Ephraim Moshe Lilien (Biblisches Lesebuch fuer den Schulgebrauch) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Noah on the 17th Day

So Noah
600 years old
and sick of it all
is standing on his boat
his Pandemonium
three stories high
and quite literally
full of life
finally tired
of the way
his wife
their neighbours
as the bob by
wearing a coat of ha!
to warm her body
tired of going
below decks
sheep monkeys
with marinades
and the grill
just so he can
his sons
more like
every day
tearing into
each other
over endless
games of
tired of the madness
in the clouds
drunk on
the rain
against the
so he lowers
himself down
into a lifeboat
nodding on the
gray on gray
cratered by rain
soaked to the skin
floating away
of course
they all call out to him
growls and screams
and whistles and words
but they can’t have him
this morning Noah
is deaf
and grinning
he slices
the water
with his line
and waits
to kill a
fish that
is fat
and full of
cruel victories


Interview with Sheila Heti

Iain Deans is a poet living in Toronto. He was born on a Friday in the early seventies in Montreal. After graduating from Queen’s University, he worked as a copywriter for about five years (“as did Hart Crane and James Dickey,” he is quick to point out), and now he works at a college in Toronto doing marketing and communications—unlike those two men, who are dead. Literary Editor Sheila Heti interviewed Iain via email, but she says her questions were vague. In this simulation of an interview, Iain’s answers are the answers he gave, but her questions are made up.

Sheila Heti: What is your approach to writing?
Iain Deans: My approach to writing isn’t terribly unique. Most of the time a poem comes together after a period of jazzing around—taking notes, automatic writing. I work in long-hand and try to keep a schedule.
SH: What happens if you don’t write?
ID: Things start to fall apart. I become edgier, unable to handle things. It’s been like that since my early 20s. It’s my medicine, and nothing seems to act as a suitable substitute—not exercise, not love.
SH: What about the poem?
ID:” “Noah on the 17th Day” came to be while I was walking through Montreal’s “underground city” during a crowded rish hour.
SH: Do you like to walk?
ID: I am a dedicated walker. I’m willing to walk for hours, but I’m not exactly romantic about it—I’m not out here scattering wildflower seeds. Downtown Toronto at night, when it gets really quiet, is fantastic. I love walking down side streets when everything is dark blue.
SH: What about cars?
ID: I hate driving. Too paranoid. I basically think everyone else is in a big hurry to die. I don’t own a car, and I won’t until the hybrid models are in price range. Many of the vehicles I see on the road seem to have more to do with vanity and bullshit than they have to do with getting around. I don’t get too broken up when I hear about someone torching a row of SUVs.

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