Commentaries - March 2015

A short interview with Christine Leclerc

Christine Leclerc is a Vancouver-based author and activist. She is the author of Counterfeit (2008) and Oilywood (2013, winner of the 2014 bpNichol Chapbook Award) and an editor of portfolio milieu (2004) and The Enpipe Line: 70,000+ km of poetry written in resistance to the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal (2010). Leclerc is a University of British Columbia Creative Writing Program graduate whose poetry, fiction and essays have appeared internationally. She is a communications manager by day and has been known to lead community theatre at corporate headquarters and occupy oil rigs at sea.


Tara Bergin's acts of language

The title poem of Tara Bergin's This Is Yarrow (Carcanet 2013) comes at the very end of the collection, as a kind of healing spell generated by the eponymous flower:

In this country house I had a dream of the city
as if the thick yarrow heads had told me,
as if the chokered dove had told me,
or the yellow elder seeds had made me ask—

William Meredith on poetry recordings in 1961

William Meredith’s 1961 essay about then-new recordings of poetry, published in the Hudson Review, starts out with a point I deem apt and true, and then goes on, in my view, to misunderstand pretty much every aspect of such recordings. Naturally, though, it is an important document in the not-very-long bibliography of such writings before, let us say, 1970 or so. I am thus pleased to be making it available here: PDF. His opening point: “A poet's reading of his poems is probably as near to an ingenuous commentary as he can give us about his intentions, certainly about his designs on our ears” (470). Meredith knew very well that such use of poetic intention in 1961 was fraught — in the New Critical heyday — and I'm glad he used it knowingly, because it gives the idea a slight feel of critical difference and resistance: the oral reading of a poem written for the page does "give...intentions" especially — but not only, of course — about oral (and really: aural) design. The citation: William Meredith, “New Poetry Recordings,” Hudson Review 14, 3 (Autumn 1961), pp. 470-73.

'The name of the place was 'through'': On veils, Kazim Ali, and Lee Kit

Last week I walked into a small 19th century building in the old part of a desert city to find, in its cool rooms, the work of the artist Lee Kit. His installation at the Sharjah Biennial 12 is an imprecise and warm minimalism. It is layers and drape: paint on cardboard in washes, light projected onto paintings, a dusty word on a wall, the drape of fabric, a line of string dipped in black marking the doorway so we must duck down a little to enter. I thought about the textility of veiling. There is shading over, partial cover, revelations, bright light illuminating corners, making shadows.