Al Filreis convened Pattie McCarthy, Kate Colby, and Lily Applebaum to talk about a poem by Stephen Collis that appeared in his book, A History of the Theories of Rain, published by Talonbooks in Vancouver in 2021. The poem is titled “Yes I Do Want to Punch” — and perhaps should be called “Yes I Do Want to Punch / fascists in the face,” proceeding to its key first line. Our recording of Collis performing the poem comes from a video he made just for PoemTalk, and it is available on his PennSound page.
As uninvited interlocutors, other creatures have long been writing their way into the metabolic conversations of human life. As vectors for various parasites and viruses, mosquitoes, for example, have exerted considerable pressure on human evolutionary and cultural history. They have killed approximately half of the humans who have ever lived, Timothy C. Winegard points out in his book detailing, among other things, the cascading connections between the mosquito and the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the transatlantic slave trade, the spread of Christianity, and the development of modern democracy. Beyond the consequential molecular inscriptions of an insect bite, however, how has the metabolism of other creatures informed conceptualizations and approaches to writing itself? How have writers worked with the metabolizing bodies of other creatures, inviting them to participate in imagining new forms of kinship and sustainable relationships with place and multispecies community?
As uninvited interlocutors, other creatures have long been writing their way into the metabolic conversations of human life. As vectors for various parasites and viruses, mosquitoes, for example, have exerted considerable pressure on human evolutionary and cultural history. They have killed approximately half of the humans who have ever lived, Timothy C.
We are at an interesting historical juncture. Governments, acting, as usual, as agents for industry and capital accumulation, are fiddling with the dials controlling communicative acts, trying to squelch (as in “suppress the output” of) the frequencies of dissent, or else simply decreeing them (via legislation, in Canada, like Bill C-51) the noise of terrorism, “full of sound and fury / signifying nothing.”
The notion that poetry has nothing to do with the “real world” of history and politics is a notion mostly held by a) some poets, and b) some people otherwise invested in poetry (critics/professors). The idea doesn’t come from the “real world” (however that might be artificially constructed), where I have never myself witnessed poetry being dismissed out of hand as an unwanted or alien intrusion.
I’m thinking about the ways poets embed themselves within and ply their awareness to particular locales, and I’m thinking more specifically of how such an embodied poetics is enacted as a healing gesture - and how these gestures connect to form a kind of bioregion, one defined by responsive organisms. It’s no wonder they are appearing often of late – it’s been almost a year to the day that we read reports of a newly-discovered crack in the West Antarctica ice sheet that threatened larger destabilization of surrounding areas, and read that a rise in sea level by 10 feet or more was deemed "unavoidable."
Fred Wahwas born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan in 1939, but he grew up in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia. He studied music and English literature at the University of British Columbia in the early 1960s where he was one of the founding editors of the poetry newsletter TISH. After graduate work in literature and linguistics at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and the State University of New York at Buffalo, he returned to the Kootenays in the late 1960s where he taught at Selkirk College and was the founding coordinator of the writing program at David Thompson University Centre. He retired from the University of Calgary in 2003 and now lives in Vancouver. He has been editorially involved with a number of literary magazines over the years, such as Open Letter and West Coast Line.
What follows is an introduction to Jordan Scott’s reading/screening at the University of Georgia on Wednesday, September 24, 2014. Sponsored by the creative writing program, the event was held at 7 p.m. in the Lab Room at Ciné, 234 West Hancock Avenue, in Athens, Georgia. Earlier that afternoon, Scott had visited Andrew Zawacki’s advanced undergraduate workshop “Graph & Photograph,” whose twenty-one students interviewed Scott about Decomp.