Commentaries

Ian & Me: A Collaboration

Ian Tyson, “Three Friendly Warnings,” Realization from the Seneca Indian with Ri
Ian Tyson, “Three Friendly Warnings,” Realization from the Seneca Indian with Richard Johnny John & Jerome Rothenberg

I have tried an altenstil
& dropped it.

– J.R., A Book of Witness, 2003

Downtown Eastside poets: Bud Osborn

Osborn at the 10th Anniversary of Insite, Vancouver's legal safe injection site
Osborn at the 10th Anniversary of Insite, Vancouver's legal safe injection site

Bud Osborn was a poet and social justice activist much beloved in the Downtown Eastside. His death in May this year is loss to the community. Osborn was a founding member of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), a collective advocating for harm reduction policies in the City.

For David Meltzer, an Old Pre-Face for a New Publication

[Having written it  originally for David’s Copy: Selected Poems (Penguin Books, 2005), I reprint my pre-face here in celebration of the republication by City Lights Books of his classic poetics primer, Two Way Mirror, concerning which I wrote more recently: David Meltzer had set out, when he was very young, to write a long poem called The History of Everything, an ambition that his later poetry brought ever closer to fulfillment.  Here, i

Witness Adrian Piper and Edgar Heap of Birds

Two lines taken

Edgar Heap of Birds, Native Hosts (2008)

In this commentary, I want to contrast two artists’ visual prosody. In previous commentaries I have paired an artist and a poet. In this case, both of the writers are artists and have practically never been called poets. Here I am interested in setting Adrian Piper and Hock-E-Aye-Vi Edgar Heap of Birds side by side, and as an heuristic, specifically, two pieces: Piper’s Concrete Infinity 6” Square (1968) and Heap of Birds’ Vacant (1995). My excuse for pairing these examples is not art- or literary-historical so much as it is guided by the motif of a “derelict void.”