Mouth sounding room
Jordan Scott’s blert, simply put, is a book about stuttering that stutters. Which in fact means that it is anything but simple. blert is a mouth that mouths me as I mouth its phonemes with my mouth. It is intensely physical, clinical and my mouth becomes both hyper personal and treacherous.
“Imitate: frazil ice. Say clacra, frazil ice, clacracla.
Imitate: muskoxen. Say flafra, muskoxen, flafrafla.” (Jordan Scott, blert)
I imitate and my utterance “fails.” Or does it? For how can an utterance fail or succeed. Doesn’t an utterance just utter? Don’t all mouths approximate the sounds of other mouths? And yet we place so much judgement on accents, speech discordances, lisps, stammers, stutters, even pitch and gender. In these judgements we fable, much as the fables of cures for stuttering that blert dissects:
“The chichara has to sing inside the mouth… You will learn to use your mouth.” “You will lunge your thorax unto spring… You will sing like the birds.” “If you wish to become an eloquent speaker, you should bury the hyoid bone of a lamb in the wall of your house.” “You will learn to eat your grasshoppers.”
In blert, I stutter stratospherically, stumble and stomp through the mouth’s mandibles. I maw guttural. Grate gobbles until a mutter is me and my mouth is mouthful; morsel meat present. I do not grieve its presence; I gratify. Groan globules of syllabic sense. Gust gists. Glottal.
Recently, Scott created an NFB Interactive Documentary, Flub and Utter: A Poetic Memoir of the Mouth, where viewers can interact with poems from blert. The website creates various layers of reading (process and procedure) and allows the user to manipulate or “change directions” within a poem by clicking on words that portal into other discussions and interactions.
Jordan Scott is the author of Silt (New Star Books, 2005) and blert (Coach House Books, 2008). One of his current projects is a collaborative project with Stephen Collis, DECOMP (see my commentary on Collis). In 2009, he began, with Jason Christie, RespondencyWest, a literary salon in Vancouver, modelled on Margaret Christakos’ Influency series in Toronto. In January 2011, he presented blert and gave a talk on disfluencies and interrogation procedures at North of Invention: A Canadian Poetry Festival. He lives in Vancouver. To hear and watch more of Scott’s work, visit his website.
Folding Borders: Experimenting in the Canadian Laboratory