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.
The Darkness of the Present: Poetics, Anachronism, and the Anomaly Steve McCaffery 6 x 9 · 256 pages ISBN: 978-0-8173-5733-7 · $34.95 $24.47 paper ISBN: 978-0-8173-8642-9 · $34.95 $24.47 ebook
“This book raises important ethical/political issues for the practice of art in the twentieth century. The Darkness of the Present calls them to rigorous attention in a series of critical studies. It finishes in a deliberate move to stand back, in order to reflect on the issues from a cool critical vantage, like Tennyson’s poet at the end of The Palace of Art.”—Jerome McGann, author of Radiant Textuality: Literature after the World Wide Web and Are the Humanities Inconsequent?: Interpreting Marx’s Riddle of the Dog Google boosk preview here.
In 1985, Eileen Myles was the new director of the St. Mark's Poetry Project in New York. She asked me to curate a lecture series, the first such program at the church. I modelled the series at the Poetry Project on my earlier series New York Talk, giving it the amusing title, given the sometimes seeming resistance to poetics at the St. Marks at the time, St. Marks Talks. And talk it did.
Breakthrough Nostalgia: Reading Steve McCaffery Then and Now guest-edited by Stephen Cain Open Letter, Fourteenth Series, Number 7, Fall 2011
Stephen Cain: Introduction
CLINAMEN Geoff Hlibchuk: “Dark ’Pataphysics: The Necropoesis of Steve McCaffery” Stephen Voyce: “Steve McCaffery’s Kommunism” Gregory Betts: “Becoming Clinamen: McCaffery and the (new) York school of writing”