The Infamous Duet: Margaret Atwood and Robertson Davies

By | September 4, 2015 at 2:18 pm | No comments | Archives, Blog | Tags: , ,

On December 6th, 1990, PEN hosted its annual benefit. The show-stopper that night was the following duet, performed by Canadian icons Robertson Davies and Margaret Atwood, accompanied intrepidly by Tomson Highway on piano. The 2015 PEN annual benefit will take place at the International Festival of Authors on October 22.

“I swear on a bible I’m more libelous than you.”

Atwood: Anything you can writer I can writer better
Davies: I can write anything better than you
A: No you can’t
D: Yes I can
A: No you can’t
D: Yes I can
A: No you can’t
D: Yes I can, yes I can, yes I can

D: I’m in the papers a lot more than you are
A: I’ve got an image that’s better than yours
D: No you don’t
A: Yes I do

A: I can write an elegy
D: I can write a trilogy
A: I’ve got a better figure
D: But my figure’s bigger–
I can live on pen and ink–
A: With nothing to drink?
D: Yeah!
A: So, maybe you’ll shrink?

A: Any book you can sell I can sell faster,
D: I can sell faster and vaster than you
A: No you can’t
D: Yes I can

A: I can write it lyrical
D: I can be satirical
A: I can write it tragic
D: I can write it magic
A: I can tell a tale that’s weird
D: But can you grow a beard?
A: Not yet!
D: That’s what I feared.

A: Anything you can write I can write lower,
D: I can be learnedly coarser than you
A: I can swear
D: I can curse
A: I can do both in verse!
D: No you can’t
A: Yes I can, yes I can

D: I can write a mystery
Full of sex and history
A:. I can write it quicker,
And get even sicker,
D: I can wade in blood and gore
A:. All over the floor?
D: Shore! And come back for more!

A:. Hey, any word you can use I can use better
D: I can use bigger words better than you
A: Onomastic
D: Pleonastic
A: Semiotic
D: Idiotic
A: Post-moderne
D: Post-Post-moderne
A: Post-post-post-post-moderne

D: I know Freud’s organ jargon
A: Wee, I beg your pardon
D: I am an intellectual
A: I am self-reflexual
I can drop a name, it’s true
D: Roland Barthes too?
A: Yup.
D: Well, Foucault you!

A: Humph! Any old metaphor I can turn better
D: I can turn metaphor better than you
A: You’re a fox
D: You’re a cat
A: You’re a wolf!
D: Fancy that!
Yes I am, so I am, so I am!

A: Anything you can write I can write sweeter,
D: I can be more diabetic than you!
A: (sweetly) No you can’t
D: Yes I can

D: (whispered) Psst! Anyone you can libel, I can libel better
A: I swear on a bible I’m more libelous than you
D: Conrad White
A: Conrad Blue
D: Conrad Black
A: Conrad who?
Both: Yes we can. yes we can, yes we can!

(WILD APPLAUSE)

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