Cecily Nicholson’s poetry expresses a deep solidarity extended across time and space, and across divisions between the human and nonhuman, animate and inanimate. As I try to prise apart what the term “biotariat” might be made to mean, I find poetry instructive because of its willingness to attend to just such “crossings” and movements amongst and between language’s subjects and objects — to, literally, lay them out on the paratactic page. For a diasporic poet like Nicholson this has something to do with “blackness” — I have in mind Fred Moten’s comment (from In the Break) that “the history of blackness is testament to the fact that objects can and do resist.” Everywhere in her poetry Nicholson is concerned with the resistance of “objects” — of those who have been rendered (reduced to) “objects” through regimes of racialized violence and colonization, and the fluid affinities the variously objectified find and found.
Cecily Nicholson’s poetry expresses a deep solidarity extended across time and space, and across divisions between the human and nonhuman, animate and inanimate. As I try to prise apart what the term “biotariat” might be made to mean, I find poetry instructive because of its willingness to attend to just such “crossings” and movements amongst and between language’s subjects and objects — to, literally, lay them out on the paratactic page.
Cecily Nicholson is the administrator of Gallery Gachet and has worked with women of the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood of Vancouver, BC since 2000. Her work, both creative and social, engages conditions of displacement, class, and gender violence. Nicholson is the author of Triage and From the Poplars, and is a contributor to Anamnesia: Unforgetting. In a Jacket2 interview with Jules Boykoff, Nicholson spoke about her first book Triage:
Short Range Poetic Device was a four episode radio show of discussions with and readings by poets, hosted by Stephen Collis and Roger Farr, as part of the alternative media resistance to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, February 12-28, 2010.
Short Range Poetic Device Poetry and Poetics Streaming Against the Totality Vivo Media Arts, Vancouver, British Columbia, February 16-17 and 23-24, 2010
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.
As a youngster I had unequivocally positive feelings about the Olympics. In part this was because I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin where winter sports were bigger than Jesus. During the 1980 Winter Olympics, which took place in Lake Placid, New York, I cheered mightily for fellow Madisonian Eric Heiden as he won five gold medals in speed skating, yelping at the tv screen as he swirled elegantly around the rink. This brought the poet out of ABC’s Keith Jackson who later described him as “a spring breeze off the top of the Rockies.” My parents even got me a stylish Eric-Heiden-esque rainbow hat, which I wore with great pride. (Later I attended Madison West High School where Heiden also went). That same Olympics the US hockey team won the so-called “miracle on ice.” The moment the hockey team won the gold-medal game is etched in the chalk and bones of my then-10-year-old mind. I remember the unbridled exhilaration pumping through my little body.