Saturday, September 30, 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Edward Burtynsky

One Canadian artist who needs little introduction these days is Edward Burtynsky, whose work tracing commodities, the reversal of production on a global scale, was an instant classic. Now there is a new documentary film about Burtynsky. There is something thoroughly modernist about Burtynsky's work, the grand scale, the glorious detail, a kind of unwieldy whole. So unified in a classical mournful way: a perspective that could only come from someone who has witnessed something once whole.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Meanwhile back in the "duh" category of news

The Iraq conflict has become a "cause celebre" for Islamic militants worldwide, declassified parts of a US intelligence report say.
The war has helped recruit "supporters for the global jihadist movement," the National Intelligence Estimate says.

Places I wish I were now

Always pining for something I am. How about Venice for the architecture bienalle?

Or soaking here, thinking about nothing other than perhaps distant ancestors.

Or back home on the west coast, but the westest of the west, here, not so much as a scrap of paper, or a word in sight...

Or in the landscape of some favorite books.

Or, Hello Mom! Just getting local...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Quotes of the week, problematic and otherwise

You decide:

What I want--when all is said and done--is a poem which acts as a palpable coffin...
--Lucie Brock-Broido

I wish I could tenderly lift from the dark side of history, voices that are anonymous, slighted—inarticulate.
--Susan Howe

siecle 21 no 9

Hot off the press: a feature on both the Anglo and Francophone literatures of Canada in Siecle 21, a journal of literature out of Paris. This dossier was selected by Marilyn Hacker, Marie-Claudette Kirpalani and Florence Trocme. Translations by a variety of individuals. It's always difficult to provide a snapshot of a people's literature, particularly a bilingual one, and the less space one has the more difficult it becomes...but I doubt one can ever achieve this goal. I can't think of an anthology that I haven't found some problem with, I can't think of a feature or folio that didn't leave someone obvious out, or include work that didn't seem on par, it's just the nature of the undertaking. And yet still we must attempt to give some shape, and spread the word. The only real offense may be those who purport to be exhaustive, exclusive, representative, or worse, carve out a canon...ack, I detest that word.

In any case, the editors achieve an intriguing mix--well I can only speak for the anglophone inclusions I suppose, and at that only those I'm familiar with. They are: Francis, Giffard, Sina Queyras, Mavis Gallant, Yerra Sugarman, Joseph Boyden, George Elliott Clarke, Dionne Brand, Sheila Heti, Anne Carson, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Helen Humphreys Christopher Dewdney, David Bergen, and Peter Dale Scott.

Francophone writers include (forgive the lack of accents!): Claude Beausoleil, Denise Desautels, Nicole Brossard, Jean-Francois Beauchemin, Christiane Frenette, Jacques Rancourt, Gilles Pellerin, Helen Dorion, Nathalie Stephens, Fulvio Caccia, Louise Dupre, Sylvain Trudel.

I'm particularly happy as the issue contains an essay on Canadian literature in which I attempt to come to terms with conflicting representations in Canadian "fiction" (another word I'm beginning to detest...), as well as an excerpt from my novel in progress. The process of translation in both cases was illuminating, but the pleasure of reading some of the poets I've loved for so long in French is by far the greatest reward. The mix of new and more established voices is also refereshing.

Alas I'm not sure that this is available readily outside of France...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Interesting, but it's not literature

Call for submissions from KSW. Is that a fabulous list below or what? Also check out the new issue of W Magazine which you can download here. Great piece by Aaron Peck, who is now in NYC and whom I intend to meet shortly, as well as work by Fred Wah, Lisa Robertson, Jeff Derksen, and others.

The Kootenay School of Writing is seeking submissions for the 13th issue of W magazine, to focus on "paraliterary" or nonliterary writing projects.

The thesis driving W13 is that as the parameters of poetic practice/praxis are reshaped in coming decades, more and more writing that now seems unclassifiable, except as "interesting, but not literature", will become imaginable within expanded, and culturally more pertinent, definitions of poetry.

Below is a brainstormed list of paraliterary possibilities, by no means exhaustive. Note that for the purposes of W13 it doesn't matter if the texts are legit or faked, fact or fiction, personal or impersonal, creative or uncreative.

1. informational texts (surveys; polls; maps; statistical charts; chronologies; diagrams;

2. conspiracy theories; research results)

3. notational projects (diaries; ongoing notes; classroom notes; records; lists; inventories;

4. specialised glossaries and lexicons)

5. annotational projects (annotations of other texts)

6. pseudo theory; pseudo poetics, pseudo philosophy; pseudo theology; pseudo manifestos; pseudo research

7. amateur science and pseudo sciences (investigations into: linguistics; etymology; astrology; astronomy; biology; 'pataphysics or "pataphysics)

8. occult writings (automatic writing; ouija board transcriptions; transcriptions of divinations; predictions; tarot readings of persons or texts)

9. found texts and found text-objects (scans or transcripts of interesting documents; posters; ephemera; ads; letters; notes; signs; report cards)

10. collections of texts (blurbs; phone messages; subject lines; typos in famous works)

11. interviews from interesting social contexts (faked or real; raw transcriptions of speech)

12. documentary writings and mockumentary writings

13. alphabetic projects (new alphabets; spelling reforms; codes; encryptions, stereograms)

14. scriptural projects (i.e., investigations of how scriptural systems and technologies interact with writing)

15. excerpts from artists' book projects (incl text-based photographic projects; photos of book sculptures)

16. photos/snapshots with significant textual content/context

17. conceptual writing; text-based conceptual works

18. uncreative writing

19. text-based visual art

20. outsider writings

21. graphic musical scores

22. certain cut-ups, aleatoric and erasure writings

23. certain visual/concrete poetry

24. certain flarf

25. certain song lyrics (if appreciable as "outsider" texts

If you're still unsure whether what you have in mind or on hand is right for the issue, direct queries to We can point you to examples of interesting paraliterary works and writers, or talk to you about specific projects and ideas.

In the meantime, the easiest ways to look into the paraliterary might be to pick up a copy of McCaffery and Rasula's anthology Imagining Language, or to check out the Conceptual Writing and the Outsiders sections of UbuWeb. You might also give a thought to the forthcoming anthology Against Expression (Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith, eds.) that will feature a historical range of so-called "uncreative" writings, or look at some of the transdisciplinary writings published in the Western Front's FRONT magazine, and in the better indie zines and micro-magazines. You could also look at the found texts in FOUND magazine, or read up on text-based projects by visual artists.

We're looking for new works/texts, but will gladly consider previously-published material, depending on when, where and how it was published. It can be helpful if the work is accompanied by a brief statement of method, means or intent.

Send submissions by email or by meatmail to:
KSW - CFS - W13
309-207 West Hastings St., Vancouver, BC, V6B 1H6, CANADA
Submissions due by: December 01, 2006.
If sent by email please write "KSW - CFS - W13" in the subject line
Include SASE and an email contact if sent by snail

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Jeanne Beaumont, Afraid So

Afraid So
by Jeanne Marie Beaumont from Curious Conduct

Is it starting to rain?
Did the check bounce?
Are we out of coffee?
Is this going to hurt?
Could you lose your job?
Did the glass break?
Was the baggage misrouted?
Will this go on my record?
Are you missing much money?
Was anyone injured?
Is the traffic heavy?
Do I have to remove my clothes?
Will it leave a scar?
Must you go?
Will this be in the papers?
Is my time up already?
Are we seeing the understudy?
Will it affect my eyesight?
Did all the books burn?
Are you still smoking?
Is the bone broken?
Will I have to put him to sleep?
Was the car totaled?
Am I responsible for these charges?
Are you contagious?
Will we have to wait long?
Is the runway icy?
Was the gun loaded?
Could this cause side effects?
Do you know who betrayed you?
Is the wound infected?
Are we lost?
Will it get any worse?

You can hear Garrison Keillor read Jeanne's poem and a short film was made of it which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival, and recently at the Toronto Film Festival.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Love Unpunished

Damn I love theatre.

I've been looking forward to this play for a while now. It's my first Philadelphia theater experience and it bodes well in general. The gutsy production, the excellent set design, and the quality of the acting were all very satisfying. Pig Iron, I've been told, is the most interesting theater company in town, and yes, I can see they are good. They embrace the abstract, they use the body, the entire stage. The idea itself, a reinactment of an evacuation on 9/11, was powerful, and the stage, and the confident, crisp production. But there were a few choices made that I just don't understand. One, when the actors propel themselves out of the stairwell, and two the relatively tame use of the actual stairwell itself. The first problem it seems to me is obvious, moving the bodies out of the space breaks the tension of the piece itself. Yes, I get the symbolism of the gesture, how they hurl themselves around, but the world of the stairwell itself was so convincing, so powerful, that the energy of the play seemed to me to disperse once this event happened. Fine if they would have done something with it, but largely it was a missed opportunity. Notice on the photo of the stage it sells itself as contained. And so it should be. Nothing, not even the Presidential heads bumping into each other, made good use of the decision to leave the space of the stairwell.

The second thing, the fact that the actual stairwell wasn't used to its full effect may be my own personal taste. But, I kept asking myself, why aren't those bodies falling in the stairwell? Why isn't everything that's happening outside of it, happening in? Why aren't they tapping into the beautiful energy they create in their choice of repeating the descent over and over again? And why not more of the ghostly scenes of people in what we assume to be moments before the evacuation, moments lingering in the dust? Very effective, and we could have used more. And why not, I must add, have two staircases side by side, two sets of people descending rather than the "off space?" It would have been very powerful indeed.

There were other minor problems. And questions about the success of decisions to be realistic vs. surreal. Still, it was inventive theatre, refreshing as hell, and I would see another show they did without question.

Tomorrow night Amnesia Curiosa, which takes place in a surgical theater. And damn Safari with its lack of a way to embed links.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Quote of the week

"Figured out why, oh, 83% of poetry leaves me cold -- 83% of poets have writing professors as their imaginary readers."
Jordan Davis
Age of Consent

Ah the boys...but I've had this song in my head for days...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

Quote of the day...

I am a runaway girl...basically I am a runaway girl from my father...

if a girl have....

le desire de plair is the same as the fear to displease...

to love and be loved is the opposite of fear...opposite.

Louise Bourgeois

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Online Journals

Melancholiastremulousdreadlocks features Nathalie Stephens and rob mclennan as well as Maxine Chernoff, Aaron Belz, Brian Henry and others.

Have you checked out the latest issue of HOW2? Always provocative, always engaging, and an essential stop on the net for this poet. Check out UK poets Lydia White, and Sophie Robinson, translations of contemporary Chinese poets by Zhang Er (who also appears translated by Rachel Levitsky), Meredith Quartermain, and lots of new voices including Jenny Boully and Sarah Dowling. In the same issue a poem on the Idea of Elegy, something that is preoccupying me these days...and don't miss the special Barbara Guest memory bank.

Drunkenboat 8 is almost ready to go live...there are two features, one folio of Canadian arts & letters edited by yours truly and a fabulous oulipo folio that I'm sure will be a great online resource.

What online journals do you visit regularly?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Go Margaret!

If it's September it must be time for a new book by the fabulous Margaret Atwood, who at 66 shows no sign of slowing down. She does however, as her spot on Rick Mercer's show proves, know that the art of deflection has many uses. The good news is that the new book is a collection of short fiction. Yesterday a student announced that she was having a love/hate relationship with Atwood and Oryx and Crake. Is there any other?
Don't know who Rick Mercer is? He is to Canada what Ricky Gervais is to the UK. Well, almost, you might have to tangle with Ken Finkleman for that comparison, but Ken Finkleman is also worth checking out. If your curiosity about Canada goes beyond poetry and into the strange culture of comedy and national media (the CBC) those are two places to take a peak. Oh, and you might also want to check out this woman, part of the comedy troupe Codco, and then the long-running tv show This Hour has 22 Minutes. (Clip below). Certainly one of the funniest women on the planet.

Rick Mercer Report - Conservative Ad #2

Conservative Ad #2

Friday, September 08, 2006

End of the week notes

Honor Code. My temporary world.

Cycling back from the college today I wound up outside the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum (which I haven't even been to yet! so much to discover!) just in time to see the motorcade pull up and who was there? Oh yes, Rocky Balboa getting a statue dedicated to him next to those very steps...what a beautiful city though. Wow. Wow.

Meanwhile back in Toronto. Thanks for the link Mark--I miss Fuse. One of the great Canadian magazines.

Dionne Brand wins Toronto Book Award for her novel What We All Long For. Brand is an exciting poet, and like many Canadian poets she shifted genres early on. While some don't go back to poery, Brand does--following up Thirsty with this year's Inventory. Now if only I could convince her to come and read in NY...

Stiff competition for the award--Howard Akler, and Alana Wilcox and Jason McBride's UTOpia: Towards a New Toronto. All great choices.

And who can tell me where Shani Mootoo is? It's been a while now...but I still love Cereus Blooms at Night. And what about The Predicament of Or? Did no one read that or was it another book that just got swallowed after 9/11?

The Fringe arrives in Philly and two shows on my list: Love Unpunished, reviewed here by the Times, and Amneisia Curiousa...

The Fringe also arrives in Vancouver--location of my first stage play. Support new playwrites. Support the Fringe. See a show. Oh, and if you're in NY Ken Urban, part of The Committe Theatre has a new play debuting tonight:
I (Heart) Kant
Tickets: $18
Call 212-352-3101 or
Friday September 8 to Monday October 2
Thursday through Monday
All shows @ 8pm, except Sunday @ 7pm
The Linhart Theater @ 440 Studios, 440 Lafayette Street, 3rd floor
Note: There are no performances on Monday September 11 or Thursday September 14.

Finally, The Met to broadcast its operas and offer podcasts both current and archival--great idea. In our age of excess it seems to be excessive and open is the only option. This way you don't have to buy a new outfit, or go to one of those insanely pricey and not that great little restaurants that surround Lincoln Center after the show...

Upcoming readings: Belladonna on Tuesday, Liz Willis in Philly on Thursday...more to come on that.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

On the reading block

Immersed in course prep, introductions, various readings. Distracted by Joan Retallack. Reading everything by her from A Poethical Wager to Afterimages. You can hear Retallack here, but of course you are all familiar with Retallack's work.

Speaking of classrooms and Retallack. For anyone concerned about the institutionalization of poetry there are some lucid, thoughtful essays in the new Poetry and Pedagogy: The Challenge of the Contemporary, ed. Juliana Spahr and Joan Retallack. Particularly affirmed by Lyn Keller's "The Centrifugal Classroom", but also Charles Bernstein, Lyn Hejinian, Jena Osman, Maria Damon, and more.

Jena Osman's name keeps coming up, so reading her more purposefully, and not just essays, but poetry.

Looking at this one again: Telling it Slant: Avant-Garde Poetics of the 1990s, ed. Mark Wallace and Steven Marks. Great essays in here. I've come back to this one again and again. Some Canadian content too: Lisa Robertson's "How Pastoral," which is a favorite, and an interesting one from Jeff Derksen on multiculturalism in Canada. Kristen Prevallet, Juliana Spahr, Harryette Mullen, Caroline Bergvall are all in here, and Liz Willis has an essay on lyric (a topic I am obsessed with still...), or "late lyric," as she writes.

This one is even more relevant to contemporary poetics as an international machine. Edited by Romana Huk, Assembling Alternatives has essays by Susan Rudy, Lisa Robertson, Carla Harryman, M. Nourbese Philip, Miriam Nichols, Bob Perelman, Jeff Derksen, Keith Tuma, Caroline Bergvall, etc.

The Open Letter issue on Kenneth Goldsmith. Goldsmith has so much to teach us in terms of articulating and realizing projects. Thoroughly modernist. Essays by Christian Bok on Soliloquy, derek beaulieu on fidget and Jason Christie on Day, interview by Caroline Bergvall (hilarious, must read), and this essay by Marjorie Perloff which outlines the history of Goldsmith's project The Weather.

Hazel Smith's The Writing Experiments.

derek beaulieu an after word after words, some notes on concrete poetry.

Je Nathaniel, both French and English versions (thanks Bookthug). Waiting on Touch to Affliction...

Lucy Brock Broido's The Master Letters. Hm...

Hazel Smith's The Writing Experiments.

Margaret Christakos, Sooner, Excessive Love...

Michael Palmer's Company of Moths.

Lisa Robertson's The Men and The Weather (does anyone look at this in connection with Goldsmith's text??).

Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life, the new book by Julia Briggs which I finally broke down and bought because I can't not have a book about Woolf. This one is actually fairly interesting. Briggs focuses each chapter on the creation of a specific text, and occasionally offers a good connection that I haven't seen before... There's just so much out there, and much of what Briggs offers is from either the diaries or the letters which are better sources in general. Why not be immersed in Woolf's voice?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Crowd Pleasers

The Crowd Pleasers are in fact very pleasing. My favorite line from the following piece on Nate Wiley: I don't play jazz. I don't know how to play jazz. I play liquor drinking music...

Indeed they do. Thanks to CA Conrad for introducing me to Bob and Barbaras.

Oh, and hey, you can hear a cut right here.

Friday, September 01, 2006

More Canadian Poetry audio files

Just got a link to Montreal's Atwater Reading Series audio links. You can hear Erin Moure, Meredith Quartermain, Nicole Brossard, Jennifer Boire, and the series curator Oana Avasilichioaei herself.