Whenever Steve McCaffery talks, he opens areas of and occasions for research into poetry and poetics. Here he enters simultaneously into the career of bpNichol (his sometime collaborator until Nichol’s untimely and tragic death in 1988) and into the fraught question of the origins of written language. Nichol, a prodigiously creative poet and performer, original and boundless, seems to have cultivated a wild and naïve persona, and a casual, open-hearted approach to his multifarious creative occasions.
Willis Barnstone speaks disapprovingly of literal translation as like a “xerox machine.” This derogatory use of the word xerox in relation to translation is a little unfair, especially since the xerox is a much better metaphor for translation pushed to its creative extremes than is the more typical technological reference to the game of “telephone.”
Writer, sound performer, publisher, editor, artist and urban printer jwcurry has lived in Ottawa since 1996, after moving his archive/bookstore, said to be one of the largest collections of small press publications and ephemera in Canada, from his long-time home base in Toronto. His ongoing bibliography of the late Toronto poet bpNichol, a project he’s been working on for a couple of decades, include much that’d been missing even from Nichol’s collection of his own work. His influence in the city as a resource, performer, poet, enthusiast and contrarian has been both subtle and considerable, and his presence alone has encouraged a number of Ottawa writers and publisher to push well beyond their comfort levels and limits, influencing the work and performances of just about anyone who has worked with him.
Colborne, Ontario poet, writer and curator Gil McElroy’s four trade poetry collections, each published by Vancouver publisher Talonbooks, are Ordinary Time (2011), Last Scattering Surfaces (2007), NonZero Definitions (2004) and Dream Pool Essays (2001). Given his three prior decades of journal, anthology and chapbook publication before Karl Siegler at Talonbooks first took on his work, McElroy’s trade books present the work of a fully mature and engaged artist, one who has been dedicated to his craft for some time. Anyone with any passing knowledge of McElroy’s poetry would certainly begin to notice a series of patterns, from the extended sequences, the abstract punctuations of time and geography, to poems on comets, constellations and other cosmic bodies.
Lola Lemire Tostevin was born into a French-speaking family in Timmins, Ontario although she writes mainly in English, and wonderfully so. That being the case, her poetry, novels, and essays communicate her interest in “contamination” (over ideologue-ish notions of purity or concepts that limit expressions of the individual), promulgating creative work that combines aspects of one language or culture with another, or for that matter, one genre with another.