Almost fifty years ago on April 5, 1960 Reaney put a child's chair on his knee and talked to it, lolled on a bed reading an Eaton's catalogue, lifted a tray of lit candles onto his head and yelled his poem "Doomsday, or the Red Headed Woodpecker" into a megaphone. Northrop Frye and Margaret Atwood were delighted. The place was Hart House Theatre in Toronto, where the audience enjoyed Reaney’s One-man Masque, a new work which gave a dramatic setting to some of his earlier published poems.
Two great lines come at the very beginning of the play: "Ladies and gentlemen, life is extremely difficult to define. Ladies and gentlemen are extremely difficult to define."
Submitted by Brian Bartlett, poet and editor of The Essential James Reaney (The Porcupine’s Quill 2010).