The Canadian Origins of Conceptual Poetry
From an interview by Sonnet L’Abbé with Sarah Dowling and me in Canadian Literature 210/211 (Autumn/Winter 2011)
As long as Christian Bök and Darren Wershler remain influential figures in conceptual poetics, would you consider conceptual writing a practice that has its origins "in Canada," perhaps with 'pataphysical roots? Can Canadianist scholars stake that territory?
Charles Bernstein: I can’t prove it, but my impression is that Conceptual Poetry, in the sense of the trademark term, was invented by Bök in his lab, working with two imaginary friends. The mechanism by which he did this is not yet fully understood. The two imaginary friends thought they were in a Toronto bar. The work attributed to poets “south of invention” was likely teletexted from Toronto and then Calgary to the putative authors, unbeknownst to them, who were feasting off the sensation that they were creating original works.