Margaret McDonald, Sensitive Man (2015)

I am drinking
I am drinking beer with yellow flowers
in underground sunlight
and you can see that I am a sensitive man
and I notice the bartender is a sensitive man too
so I tell him about his beer
tell him the beer he draws

is half fart and half horse piss
and all wonderful yellow flowers
But the bartender is not quite
so sensitive as I supposed he was
the way he looks at me now
and does not appreciate my exquisite analogy
Over in one corner two guys
are quietly making love
in the brief prelude to infinity
Opposite them a peculiar fight
enables the drinkers to lay aside
their comic books and watch with interest
as I watch with interest
A wiry little man slugs another guy
then tracks him bleeding into the toliet
and slugs him to the floor again
with ugly red flowers on the tile
three minutes later he roosters over
to the table where his drunk friend sits
with another friend and slugs both
of em ass-over-electric-kettle
so I have to walk around
on my way for a piss
Now I am a sensitive man
so I say to him mildly as hell
"You shouldn'ta knocked over that good beer
with them beautiful flowers in it"
So he says "Come on"
So I Come On
like a rabbit with weak kidneys I guess
like a yellow streak charging
on flower power I suppose
& knock the shit outa him & sit on him
(he is just a little guy)
and say reprovingly
"Violence will get you nowhere this time chum
Now you take me
I am a sensitive man
and would you believe I write poems?"
But I could see the doubt in his upside down face
in fact in all the faces
"What kind of poems?"
"Flower poems"
"So tell us a poem"
I got off the little guy but reluctantly
for he was comfortable
and told them this poem
They crowded around me with tears
in their eyes and wrung my hands feelingly
for my pockets for
it was a heart-warming moment for Literature
and moved bt the demonstrable effect
of great Art and the brotherhood of people I remarked
"-the poem oughta be worth some beer"
It was a mistake in terminology
for silence came
and it was brought home to me in the tavern
that poems will not realy buy beer or flowers
or a goddam thing
and I was sad
for I am a sensitive man


Al Purdy (1968) from Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems of Al Purdy. Madeira Park: Harbour Publishing, 2000.


At the Quinte Hotel” is a satirical poem emphasizing the strain between art and commerce through the use of beer analogies. In the poem, Purdy acts as a voice for the people on a quest to mediate this affray. It is true that art, in its many forms, has an unexplainable and mystifying way of uniting people and capturing the true essence of one’s soul. However, the sad realization is “the poems will not really buy beer or flowers / or a goddam thing.” In the poem, art is for expression; it is not a commodity. Unfortunately, the real release that art allows is greatly lacking in the lives of most.
— Jamie Dorner

Vivian Chen, Untitled (2015)


Playing with the lighting, Chen illustrates the excitement and energy brought about by a social meeting place where one drinks and dines with one’s peers. This excitement is also reflected in Purdy’s poem “At the Quinte Hotel,” where the patrons of the bar that Purdy is attending have a seemingly eventful night full of fighting and poetry.
— Jamie Dorner
The man’s left hand is folded over his right arm in a very soft and almost feminine manner, which reflects Purdy’s refrain of “I am a sensitive man” throughout his poem. Although he looks like a rough and tough guy, his smile and the direction of his gaze suggest that he is showing a joyful and carefree side of himself, when normally he would conceal it. Food is a powerful tool when it comes to discovering what is underlying people’s disposition. Food is key to bringing out the liveliness within.
— Jamie Dorner


JAMIE DORNER (ENGLISH) is a second year English student and had a great time writing the essay about such a quirky poem and being part of the Artful Fare production.  Jamie writes, "All the best to the other English students and all the arts students that were involved!"

VIVIAN CHEN (FINE ARTS)  is a third year business student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Marketing Management major. She is an international student from Taiwan and enjoys doing photography in her free time. 

MARGARET MCDONALD (FINE ARTS) lives and works in Langley, British Columbia and is currently enrolled as a part time student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University working towards a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. Margaret prefers to work in colourful mixed media abstractions but has a great fondness for portrait (human and animal) black and white print photography.  The Sensitive Man image, created for this joint English-Fine Arts project, is her first encounter with digital photography.