Alec Finlay: A Poem of Namings, from Gaelic and Norn

River Dee: photograph by Hannah Devereux, 2016 (from gathering)
River Dee: photograph by Hannah Devereux, 2016 (from gathering)

Alec Finlay is a Scottish poet and artist based in Edinburgh. These texts come from a series of ongoing projects derived from research into place-names, in particular Gaelic (from his book gathering, forthcoming from Hauser & Wirth, 2018) and Norn – the dialect of Scots and Norse spoken in Orkney and Shetland Norn c.1800 (from MinnMouth, forthcoming 2017). This sequence derives from a performance given at the O-I/I-O poetry festival, Glasgow, 2016, as a closer to the whole event.


Notes on the translational Gothic

Or, how the weird enters the world, part two

The poems of George Trakl mulling/translating themselves in preparation for Chri
The poems of George Trakl mulling/translating themselves in preparation for Christian Hawkey's Ventrakl. Image courtesy the artist.

The term Gothic is marvelously, if disconcertingly, fluid, designating at times both barbarian horde and proto-nationalist regime, pagan chieftain and Christian theocrat, aesthetic atrocity and high art: thus to speak of the “translational Gothic” is to speak of both the wild mutations possible through “infidel” translation and the wild translations implicit in the survival of the term Gothic itself.  John Ruskin describes the Gothic “as the rough mineral . . . submitted to [the analysis] of the chemist, entangled with many other foreign substances, itself perhaps in no place pure, or ever to be obtained or seen in purity for more than an instant.”  He nevertheless thinks that this instant—knit into the mess of centuries—is definable, much like Walter Benjamin’s faith in a translation that only momentarily, fleetingly touches upon the meaning of the original, or the meaning of “originality” for that matter.

Lisa Robertson on Close Listening

Lisa Robertson talks with me about her new book; the form of Cinema of the Present; rethinking lyric and epic poetry through feminism; experimentation and/or subjectivity; prose versus verse; the persistence of beauty, pleasure, and the aesthetic; early connections to the Kootenay School of Writing; living bilingually in France and the bubble of monolingualism; soft architecture; writing essays for visual arts publications,;and seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. Close Listening is produced for Clocktower Radio in association with PennSound. 

Listen >>>>>>>(53:27): MP3

Roy Ascott's moistmedia and the second big b.a.n.g. (bits atoms neurons genes)

Bio-artist, cybernetician, and assembleur Roy Ascott refers to “a moistmedia substrate where digital systems, telematics, and genetic engineering” all meet. This fertile matrix, in his imagining, is a haven for “cultural traditions previously banished from materialist discourse as esoteric and shamanic.” This esoteric tendency poetically and noetically questions the very bases of upper-case Form and Object-hood.

Close Listening with Will Alexander

Photo: Harold Abramowitz

Will Alexander talks with me about his early immersion in the work of John Coltrane and its abiding connection to his own jazz-process / Surrealist poetry, discusses his “constellation" of mythological and scientific sources, the influence of Aimé Césaire on his work, the politics of his poetic form via resistance to colonization, the role of the black poet in America, the necessity of performance, and his aim bring the reader into a state of “supra-mind.”

Listen to the 30-minute program, prodcued for Clocktower Radio in association with PennSound: