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For All Nails #220: Love, North American Style

by Sir Francis Burdett



From the pages of the Statist
1 February 1974

Laureates in Love

Mention the name Christopher Walken McCall to most North Americans and you will likely receive a vacant look. Few will remember that CW McCall (the nomenclature he prefers) is in fact the Poet Laureate of the Confederation of North America, and even then he may be confused with the much more widely known and controversial Sir C. Hadley McCoy, Poet Laureate of the United Empire FN1. This is understandable as McCall's output has been quite meagre (and honestly quite mediocre) since his appointment in 1960. For many years after his appointment he rarely left the confines of Burlington College in eastern NY, N.C. FN2 where he is a professor emeritus. It is then quite surprising that he should ever be in the middle of a minor diplomatic kafuffle with the United States of Mexico.

Governor-General John McDowell and the Grand Council created the post of CNA Poet Laureate in 1881 in honour of the Centennial of the Britannic Design FN3. The first Laureate, Sir Albert Pike, began the long list of elderly non-entities who have held the post. As in the UE Poet Laureateship, the CNA post is a quite comfortable sinecure as the life grant brings a stipend of N.A. £4,000 a year and sundry other perks; chief among these a substantial annual travel allowance FN4.

McCall was already 75 at the time of his appointment in 1960 and had hitherto lived a quite varied life as bricklayer, circus trapeze artist, and labour organizer in the long haul loke business before becoming a poet after the Global War. Governor-General Richard Mason appointed CW McCall largely on the strength of this biography and McCall's fervent poetic propagandising of Mason's "New Day" rather than any claim to poetic greatness. He was often the guest of the Governor-General at the Palace and helped in part form the somewhat eccentric clique that surrounded Mason late in his term FN5. With the election of Governor-General Perry Jay in 1963, McCall fell markedly silent and retired to his home in Burlington. Largely forgotten, McCall has been looked upon as one of Mason's lesser mistakes by his successors Jay and Monaghan. McCall led the life of quiet tenured irrelevance for many years. That was until CW McCall developed a taste for travel late in life.

As a man in his late eighties with much excess time on his hands, McCall became an avid airmobile traveller. As it was virtually free for him, Confederation Air became his mode of choice. On his many flights from New York to Flaglerville-South Beach FN6 fate would have it that he would meet a young airmobile hostess Miss Jo Ann Worley who set his heart on edge. Throughout 1971 and '72 McCall logged thousands of air miles just to be on the same airmobile as Miss Worley, mainly on her flights to southern Georgia and Mexico City. She served as his poetic inspiration and there was an outpouring of poetry from McCall's quill that he had not experienced since his "New Day" period. The output was such that he was able to publish a small tome entitled "Love Poetry Inspired by the Divine Miss Jo Ann Worley" (Burgoyne New Press 1973). Whether this is to the greater good of poetry is another matter. A representative sample follows:

Send her My Love –(6 March 1971)
Callin' out your name I'm dreaming'
Reflections of a face I'm seein'
It's her voice
That keeps on haunting me
Send her, send her my love
Roses never fade
Memories remain
Send her, send her, my love

or

Separate Ways (3 May 1972)
Someday love will find you
Break those chains that bind you
One night will remind you
How we touched and went our separate ways
If he ever hurts you
True love won't desert you
You know I still love you
Though we touched and went our separate ways

Perhaps not quite Milton.

Old men often make fools of themselves over beautiful young women and this tale would remain a private matter but for the fact that it would appear that Miss Worley is quite the poetic muse. She also has an admirer in a Dr. Reynaldo Key, professor of comparative literature at the University of Mexico City, amateur poet and direct descendent of minor Mexican poet F. Scott Key FN7. Aware of McCall's intent towards Miss Worley, Dr. Key was one of the few in the public to actually purchase McCall's Valentine. What he read there enraged him for he claims that one of the poems was actually stolen from his own oeuvre FN8. Entitled "Love, Love, Love" Key's poem has never been published but has been submitted for publication. A Poem by that very name does also appear in the McCall work.

Love, Love, Love (July 1972)
Love, North American Style,
Truer than the Red, White and Blue.
Love, North American Style,
That's me and you.
And on a star spangled night my love, (My love come to me).
You can rest you head on my shoulder.
Out by the dawn's early light, my love
I will defend your right to try.
Love, North American Style,
That's me and you.

Dr. Key claims that McCall stole the bulk of the poem without attribution, making superficial alterations and slightly changing the rhyme. Evidence would seem to support Dr. Key's assertion. Dr. Key went public with his charge in the Mexican press and in a letter written to the North American Poets Society.

Mr. McCall has not taken the charge at all well and is presently in Mexico City pursuing a libel action against Dr. Key. As is his right as Poet Laureate, he is staying as the guest of the CNA ambassador, presenting quite an embarrassment for the government. A functionary of the CNA, however minor, is pursuing a legal action in a Mexican court against a Mexican national and is actually being housed and fed by the North American government. This is surely intolerable for the Monaghan administration even if at present the USM is looking on in amusement rather than anger.

As there is no legal mechanism to remove McCall involuntarily, and he appears to be a quite active 89 year old and not likely to disappear quickly enough, there are mutterings in Burgoyne about some way to induce the recalcitrant Poet Laureate to step down on his own. One solution that appears to be gaining favour is to in effect kick McCall upstairs. That's right, in an addendum to the Design Day Honours list CW McCall (if he steps down as Laureate) could gain a title and entry to that club of Poets and Paupers: the Confederation Senate. FN9


Forward to FAN #221: Such Sweet Sorrow.

Forward to 12 March 1974: You Say "GrenAYda", I Say "GranAHda".

Return to For All Nails.

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