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About Henry Pepper
If the dumpsters of the Downtown Eastside could talk, this would be their story.
Henry Pepper roams the back alleys of Canada's poorest neighbourhood, a slightly cracked anthropologist of the everyday. From a train crossing where the dispossessed "swear at the train like they didn't have time for it, like it came to them as a great financial loss," to the brutal economy of evacuating in alleyways where the ground cover has been systematically pared away, the imaginary Pepper is a ribald, mordant participant observer. The architecture of his alleyways, from the ubiquitous telephone poles to the dumpster serial numbers titling each poem, becomes Henry Pepper's doorway and windowsill. Smithrite, Monica's Hair Salon, gumboots and puddles are his daily newspaper, dishes, chairs. Fellow denizens of the back lanes scatter porn magazine pages and catch rides on stolen bikes. Our narrator Pepper reels from poem to poem, belligerent, jocose, and ultimately fragile, daring us to dismiss his world.