Coke Machine Glow

Publisher: Vintage Canada
Gordon Downie, lead singer and lyricist for the popular Canadian rock band, The Tragically Hip, released his first solo record, Coke Machine Glow in Spring 2001. Vintage Canada is proud to have to published Downie's first book of poetry, under the same title. It also contains the lyrics to the sixteen songs on the record.

Coke Machine Glow is a rich, haunting collection that reveals both the public and private selves of one of Canada's most enigmatic musicians. In poetry that is urban, gritty and political, as well as romantic, nostalgic and whimsical, Downie allows us a glimpse inside his world. With his acute and observing eye, he gives us snapshots of his life, both on the road and at home; he writes of loneliness and isolation; of longing and desire; of the present and the past; of dreams and nightmares; love lost and love of family. Ultimately, this book is about the distances that bridge and separate us.

Layered and deceptively simple, imbued with Downie's wit, insight, anger, compassion and rock 'n'roll edge, Coke Machine Glow is a remarkable debut. With its publication, Gordon Downie becomes a part of the wonderful literary tradition of Canadian songwriters like Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell who are also poets.


Coke Machine Glow

Here we are on the highway.
Here we are on the road.
Here we are in the parking lot's
pink Coke machine glow.
Here we are in the bedroom.
Here we are in the bed.
Here we are
beside each other
after everything
we've said.

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“[Downie] writes in an accessible, entertaining way, but with a refined enough approach that his works can’t be dismissed as crude or simplistic. When he wants, he can be quite funny, and he can drop Canadian references — Pierre Trudeau, Tim Horton's, hockey, Canada geese — without sounding like he’s trying to be Canadian. His particular strength as a poet is his unusual, unexpected imagery… the words are exact, sensuous and satisfying.” —National Post

“Downie’s fertile imagination can no longer be contained within the Hip alone.” —Nicholas Jennings, Maclean’s

“Downie has a casually attentive way with words; each one does its work without mystification or excess. At a time when poetry has mostly turned away from large-scale social realities, he bridges deftly and persistently between personal and national narratives. Like Greg Curnoe and Stan Rogers, he never learned that ‘here’ is a four-letter word.” —Robert Everett-Green, Globe and Mail

Coke Machine Glow…is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated poetry collection in recent memory…Downie doesn’t disappoint…[He] is something of a national treasure.” —Calgary Herald

Coke Machine Glow is a wildly enjoyable read…[Downie] writes of and from hotel rooms, hotel bars and diners, giving us a peek at the often boring and lonely, but occasionally exhilarating, life of a travelling performer.” —Moe Berg, Globe and Mail

“[Downie’s] gentle irongy and clever conceptual turns are thoroughly contemporary and undeniably original…Downie’s debut…possess[es] a distinct, personal vision and reintroduces whimsy and humour to an artform often hobbled by its own self-importance — laudable achievements for any first book.” —Kevin Connolly, eye Weekly

“Songs like “Thirty-eight Years Old,’ ‘Wheat Kings’ and ‘Nautical Disaster’ have inspired a new generation of Canadian poets by demonstrating how relevant, contemporary narratives can be rendered in provocative yet accessible verse…[H]is best poems [are] elegantly understated…” —Quill and Quire