Commentaries - March 2014

David-Baptiste Chirot: Félix Fénéon, conceptual poetry, & the animated other (redux)

[Himself on the cusp between “outside” & “inside” poetry & art, Chirot, whose work, both verbal & visual, is a great too often hidden resource, writes from an authoritative if  barely visible position in contemporary letters.  The Fénéon commentary excerpted here is from a longer essay/talk, “Conceptual Poetry and its Others,” written for a symposium at the Poetry Center of the University of Arizona, 29-31 May 2008 & appeared earlier in the blogger version of Poems and Poetics.  The depth & breadth of his more recent work is outstanding. (J.R.)]

Geomantic riposte: 'North End Love Songs'

Winner of the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award for English-language poetry, Katherena Vermette’s North End Love Songs, contains a beguiling mix of furtive fright and holistic grace in its visit to the North End in Winnipeg, Manitoba. What is particular refreshing about the book is that its spare language invites the reader into intimate spaces, at times touching and in a number of cases, disconcerting.

First reading of Sawako Nakayasu's 'Couch' (1)

David A. Colón

David Colón here presents the first of five first readings of a new poem in our series — Sawako Nakayasu’s “Couch,” a prose-poem in Insect Country (A) (Dusie, 2006). We will subsequently publish first readings of “Couch” by Lee Ann Brown, Hank Lazer, K. Silem Mohammad, and Robert Archambeau. — Al Filreis, Brian Reed, and Craig Dworkin.

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There’s a moment, a fraction of a second, when I first look at a page and recognize the thing. Ah, a poem. It’s the form of the white space that registers as much as the black. Words taking shape? Poem, poem, poem. My pupils spread, irises thin, no doubt some region in my brain changing color.

Geomantic riposte: 'The Book of Marvels'

The idea of a ‘Geomantic Riposte’, a response that attempts to transplant the energy of one poem into another, is not out of keeping with poetry that abounds like so many persistent verbal ‘forms’ (small depressions of our prairie jackrabbits) and even defiant forbs across the vast and diverse landscape in Canada. This ‘Idea of North’, to use Glenn Gould’s term, is not just about the tonic of performance or the stern dominant of major city centres. Even at remote interstices, the conversation is always continuing, sometimes in a communal sense and other times in the manner of a furtive sonata or partita about to be launched into space. Geomantic Ripostes is therefore a glimpse through a window on the very liminal of a poet’s life, one that is made up of murmurs, music, silences, sudden yips, rests, and occasional fermatas. As such, this series is a curation of thirty six poetry books published in Canada, along with more than a bit of interior talk they have brought about.