I’m thinking about the ways poets embed themselves within and ply their awareness to particular locales, and I’m thinking more specifically of how such an embodied poetics is enacted as a healing gesture - and how these gestures connect to form a kind of bioregion, one defined by responsive organisms. It’s no wonder they are appearing often of late – it’s been almost a year to the day that we read reports of a newly-discovered crack in the West Antarctica ice sheet that threatened larger destabilization of surrounding areas, and read that a rise in sea level by 10 feet or more was deemed "unavoidable."
Fred Wahwas born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan in 1939, but he grew up in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia. He studied music and English literature at the University of British Columbia in the early 1960s where he was one of the founding editors of the poetry newsletter TISH. After graduate work in literature and linguistics at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and the State University of New York at Buffalo, he returned to the Kootenays in the late 1960s where he taught at Selkirk College and was the founding coordinator of the writing program at David Thompson University Centre. He retired from the University of Calgary in 2003 and now lives in Vancouver. He has been editorially involved with a number of literary magazines over the years, such as Open Letter and West Coast Line.
I recently received a copy of o w n (CUE, 2014), a book of three new works constructed through a variety of text and visuals connected through the suggestion of shared affinities: a sense of collage, disjuncture and ecopoetic.
With poets using the Earth itself as a mode of composition for textual erasures and explorations of physical systems in relation to poetics, I imagine a future where an astronaut-poet might plant an adamantine sound poem in the icy particle rings of Saturn to see if it could withstand bombardments and pressures from the cosmos. Perhaps the icy particles would play the decomposing sound poem, changing as it decays, to a live audience on a nearby space station. Maybe the poem would be titled after the language of celestial mechanics: “Orbital Resonances.”
Stephen Collis is an important contemporary poet, with ten books of poems published, at least eight of them as substantive book publications. To the Barricades (Talon, 2013) is one of the books in a trilogy going under the title “The Barricades Project.” Here the poet maintains a shifting or fluid form of social address (“on the run,” is what one reviewer noted), and this is the formal expression of the works’ content. Together, all the work seeks to form cities of words. The compilings of negativities (e.g. in a poem called “Threshold song” [p. 128]) suggest their hopeful opposites – spaces inhabited, or at least occupied, by the very coal ports, containers, parties, societies, and species that seem to have vacated. The project is clear and striking – holds out possibilities even through its negations.
Short Range Poetic Device was a four episode radio show of discussions with and readings by poets, hosted by Stephen Collis and Roger Farr, as part of the alternative media resistance to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, February 12-28, 2010.
Short Range Poetic Device Poetry and Poetics Streaming Against the Totality Vivo Media Arts, Vancouver, British Columbia, February 16-17 and 23-24, 2010
and nowhere at once” (Anarchive, 71) An address, as physical location, necessarily connotes boundaries, ownership, enclosure. Land is demarcated and receives an address, a name and number, so that it can be owned, so that it can enter into an economy of production and consumption. But as you, dear Stephen Collis, through your multi-volume, on-going work, “The Barricades Project,” turn the address back into an address, into speech, into the spoken toward someone, I, among many, find myself addressed and become part of this spoken which is not enclosed, not monetarily and economically situated, and which moves. And the spoken that you evoke between us, dear Collis, is not in straight lines, it meanders land and lexicons and authors, swims in rivulets, gets tangled in brambles.