Commentaries - August 2011

Poetry's spatial and aesthetic relationship to power

A conversation with Nicholas Perrin

Olympics protest in Vancouver, February 2010
Olympics protest in Vancouver, February 2010

Jules Boykoff

Whenever I went to Vancouver in both the run-up to and the aftermath of the Olympics I always sought out Nicholas Perrin for thought-provoking analysis, deep thinking, and good cheer.

Nicholas deftly blends creativity with brass-tacks organizing in ways that forge solidarity and hope. He is an artist, poet, and cultural activist who studies and works in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. A former member of the Kootenay School of Writing, Nicholas currently curates a series titled Imminent Future with a collective of friends who began working together during the Olympics. He is also a member of the Lower Mainland Painting Co, a conceptual artwork and research initiative seeking to situate shifting forms of value and the modes of labor and negotiation through which artists work and dialogue amidst broader social forces and struggles. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, he teamed up with Cecily Nicholson and Am Johal to create the “Safe Assembly Project” at the VIVO Media Arts Centre during the Olympic moment in 2010.

Ted's Sublime Echoes

video portrait Ted Greenwald

In the 1970s Ted and I would meet in the afternoons and talk til night. We even did a recording of a couple of dozen hours of our conversations. I owe a tremendous amount to those meetings and to our many conversations since. On this particular afternoon we talked at the bar in the back of the restaurant (I can't remember the name of the place, but it was downtown).
October 22, 2007

Magazines #4

More Rabbit 1

Colour version of a b/w photograph by Nicholas Walton-Healey in Rabbit
Colour version of a b/w photograph by Nicholas Walton-Healey in Rabbit

Tim Wright's poem (see previous post, Magazines #3) plays off a fusion of open field and New York poetics pioneered by poets such as Laurie Duggan and Pam Brown; yet 'Suns' subscribes to neither, nor is antiformalist in the way of his precursors. Rather, I suggest Wright is conceptual, aformalist, in employing a kind of relaxed proceduralism. Which might sound like Ashbery by another name - yet the poem produced is unlike Ashbery's - for one thing, the tone is very different, its play both more random and more active.

Breaking Through: TV interview show with Charles Bernstein & Ian Probstein

host: WJ. O'Reilly

These excerpts are from a 50-minute interview with Charles Bernstein and Ian Probstein on Breaking Through, with W.J. O'Reilly, on eGarage.TV, June 17, 2011.

Full episode here

From Attack of the Difficult Poems: Essays and Inventions

"The Difficult Poem" (excerpt)

Magazines #3


Colour version of b/w photo from Rabbit 1 by Nicholas Walton-Healey
Colour version of b/w photo from Rabbit 1 by Nicholas Walton-Healey

Rabbit editor Jessica Wilkinson has fusslessly put together some of the best newer writers around in this new print-on-demand poetry journal (based at the University of Melbourne). The poems are generously spaced, each poet has their own title (or name) page; there are photographs, reviews, an interview with American visitor Lesley Wheeler (as well as her cracker poem 'Virginia is for Heterosexual Lovers').

Rabbit 1 includes a couple of long, what I call aformalist poems, such as Tim Wright's 'Suns'. The poem is in dialogue with the form of a list, but Wright counteracts that with different deployments of single lines, enjambed lines, short couplets, such as:

sun on John Ashbery, flipping an LP

at a party in the 1960s