Commentaries

Modern myths and topographies

Julia Bloch

Editor Julia Bloch reviews four poetry titles that make us think differently about spaces both crowded and open, and histories both told and ready to be rewritten.

Editor Julia Bloch reviews four poetry titles that make us think differently about spaces both crowded and open, and histories both told and ready to be rewritten.

'Schizophonophilia'

Wayde Compton and Jason de Couto, The Contact Zone Crew

Image of The Contact Zone Crew
Credit: Wayde Compton.

In their poetic experiments with electroacoustic technologies, Wayde Compton and Jason de Couto — known as The Contact Zone Crew — advance what Compton has called schizophonophilia: “the love of audio interplay, the pleasure of critical disruptions to natural audition, the counter-hegemonic affirmation that can be achieved through acoustic intervention.”[1] As an audio poetry project, Compton and de Couto realize schizophonophilia by using sampling and mixing as the core of their poetics. They work with sounds from instrumental hip hop, jazz, black spirituals, Japanese music, sound effects, and custom made dub plates (containing recorded readings by Compton. For Compton, the concept of schizophonophilia departs from the thinking of Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer’s similar term “schizophonia.” In "The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World," “schizophonia” describes “the split between an original sound and its electroacoustic reproduction” and is characterized as an “aberrational effect of the twentieth century.” The condition of schizophonia, for Schafer, arises in part from the increasing availability of audio recording technologies, which make it more possible for sound to travel away from its time and place of origin.

In their poetic experiments with electroacoustic technologies, Wayde Compton and Jason de Couto — known as The Contact Zone Crew — advance what Compton has called schizophonophilia: “the love of audio interplay, the pleasure of critical disruptions to natural audition, the counter-hegemonic affirmation that can be achieved through acoustic intervention.”[1] As an audio poetry project, Compton and de Couto realize schizophonophilia by using sampling and mixing as the core of their poetics.

On the 'Vietnam is a Seven-Letter Word' Panel at AWP

“Vietnam Is a Seven-Letter Word” panelists.

On the Thursday of the AWP Conference in Portland, OR, I skipped the long line for badges and made my way through the throngs of people chatting, milling purposefully, and sitting and sipping decent coffee along the corridor floors of the Oregon Convention Center to a panel titled  “Vietnam is a Seven-Letter Word. I was familiar with some of the writers presenting but not all of them, and I was intrigued by the description, which noted that “women of the Vietnamese diaspora [would] offer insight into how writers may elasticize and complicate definitions of one’s various assigned ‘identities’ and lend voice to the silenced, obscured, or overlooked.

'Voices of continuance'

Words, speech, and memory in Jeannette Armstrong’s 'Breath Tracks' (1991)

Jeanette Armstrong’s poem collection Breath Tracks (1991) sews the sinew and muscle of the writing hand to the lips and lungs of the speaking mouth. The title of the book gestures toward the entanglement of writing and speaking in the body: tracks, the trace of language upon the page that is left by movements of the hand, and breath, that which comes before, during, and after the act of vocalization — a trace of the body in itself. In its positioning of these enmeshed mechanisms, Breath Tracks is a book about the mouth on the page or, to borrow the words that Armstrong imparts to Kim Anderson, these poems articulate “how sound and body gesture to create an art form.”[1]  

Postface to 'The President of Desolation'

Now available from Black Widow Press

[In announcing the publication of my latest book of poems from Black Widow Press, I thought the following postface might be of interest in what I say about the book’s title and the concerns that inform the book as a whole. Further information, for those who seek it, can be found at the Black Widow website, but for now I would hope to make the context of the work, including a number of procedural and aleatory poems, as clear as possible.