The Syrian poet Muhammad al-Maghut (1934–2006) embraced the persona of the outsider, the loiterer, the hobo. He performed it in his life and in his poetry. This marginal posture guides and supplements the reading of his work and the perceived achievement of his poetic project.
The story goes that he joined the Baʿth party because its office happened to be closer to his house than that of the rival political party. Moreover, the Baʿth had the added advantage of a fireplace in the winter. And so, by accident, he ended up as a political prisoner in the Mezzeh prison outside of Damascus where he began writing on cigarette boxes. It didn’t occur to him that his writings were poetry until he showed them to his cellmate (none other than the poet Adunis) who said they might very well be. This is how al-Maghut himself likes to portray the beginning of his poetic career and his politcal invovlement, a funny coincidence.*
Arriving on my desk this week — the result, apparently, of a quick visit to Philadelphia by Nick Montfort — is a remarkable excerpt from Montfort's 2018 work, Hard West Turn. This No Press pamphlet takes pages 213 through 216 from the work. Go here to find out how to acquire this or any of Nick's work. No Press is the wonderful ongoing creation of Derek Beaulieu of Calgary (now, precisely, of Banff). Hard West Turn was computer generated using text from the English Wikipedia and the Simple English Wikipedia. Information about the book can be found here. Information about No Press can be found here. Another recent work by Nick Montfort: “Leaflet of Eden,” a sheet folded twice, printed by Nick himself, in Cambridge, on a dot matrix printer.