Articles

Constant renewal

Nicole Brossard at Kelly Writers House

Nicole Brossard at North of Invention. Photo by Aldon Nielsen.

Fearlessly and enigmatically experimental, Nicole Brossard’s work in French (and in English translation) embodies the writing life.

Why is Jordan Scott?

Jordan Scott at North of Invention (click here to view his performance).

Why is Jordan Scott? [Because the spaces = most interesting!] Are you comfortable? [He has shown and will show that languages {aieee!} are always attached to the body and the body is almost always under duress.] Would you like a cigarette? [They (ink, voice, hand signal etc.), being just another ingredient of chance, are never neither ready nor hesitant …] Have they treated you well?

Not against expression

M. NourbeSe Philip at North of Invention; click here to view her performance. Photo by Aldon Nielsen.

Shortly after North of Invention, I had the opportunity to ask M. NourbeSe Philip a question following her public reading here in St. Catharines, Ontario. She read exclusively from Zong!, outlining for a group of mostly students (the same students featured in the chapbook she holds up towards the end of the video) the difficulty of writing about eighteenth century African slaves who were murdered for the sake of an insurance payout.

My question, drawing upon her repeated desire to “tell the story that cannot be told,” was simple: “Are you ‘against expression’?”

Speaking together against the fixed

Lisa Robertson on poetry as citizenship

Lisa Robertson at North of Invention. Photo by Aldon Nielsen.

What constitutes poetry, and how might it serve as a vital, even undeniably necessary act of citizenship? In her address to the North of Invention audience, Lisa Robertson eloquently addresses these questions while discussing the inextricability of subjectivity, social relations, and language. Her talk, one incarnation of a still-evolving paper initially presented at a conference on citizenship, invokes the ideas of French linguist Emile Benveniste.

Lady Lingual

An introduction to Adeena Karasick

Adeena Karasick at North of Invention. Photo by Aldon Nielsen.

I first saw Adeena Karasick read at The Idler Pub in Toronto in the nineties, when I was somewhere in my early twenties. It’s a bit embarrassing to remember because I had no clue what she was talking about or what she was doing. As someone whose experience did not yet include experimental or conceptual poetry, I felt strangely threatened and a little dubious. But I also felt exhilarated. I realized little by little, word by un-word, that she was doing something wild with — and to — language. She was actually dismantling words and reconstructing them in new ways.