The Argentinian artist Mirtha Dermisache (1940-2012) wrote her first book in 1967, 500 pages in length and not a single word. “I started writing,” she said in a 2011 interview, “and the result was something unreadable.” This sounds to me overly modest. Her skill is for distracting the onlooker’s impulse to read.
[Using the procedure of “variations” that I began with The Lorca Variations (1993) I turn it here toward my own earlier work & show, below, both a poem from 1966 & the corresponding autovariation from 2014. In the present instance I’ve gone back to a poem written & published as part of a book called “The Gorky Poems,” and, as in the “variations” I’ve done from other poets, I systematically remove all nouns from the original & use them as building blocks or what Jackson Mac Low used to call “nuclei” in the const
I spoke today with Enea Parimbelli, who has fallen accidentally and headlong into contemporary U.S. poetry through the massive open online course called ModPo. I recorded our conversation. His favorite part of the syllabus is the week on the Language poets.
For weeks I’ve been trying to write this post on the Downtown Eastside, one of Vancouver’s oldest residential areas — historic home to many working-class immigrant communities and currently the City’s most contested and fought-for space as gentrification escalates rents and property values and poor and low-income people are displaced — anxious to do justice to a place close to my heart where much of my own history lies. How to write about the neighbourhood I have lived in for almost two decades, first as a drug user and sex worker and now as a college instructor?