Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Another bad year for female authors

See more of the charts over at the Vida site. Here's a snippet from my reaction to last year's count:
I dislike the fact of women always having to hammer these points home. And having their voices in special "women issues" or "women's literary journals" (read, the issues no serious male thinker ever has to read...). I am tired of the divisiveness. I'm tired of what is important being unconsciously "what I'm familiar with." I'm tired of not having women's voices in the mix because they don't write sentences in the same (or proper) manner. Or they don't engage in evaluative criticism. Or they don't use military terms. Or they don't want to set up the field and knock each competitor down as they progress through their essay. Or they don't adequately regurgitate enough other criticism or theory or the "Important Ones." I don't want special treatment, I want something that reflects a more accurate slice of contemporary thinking. I don't want a women's review of books, I want a woman assigning reviews at the LRB or NYRB or the NY Times, or here in Canada, because let's face it we are no better. I want a woman directing the traffic flow.

And here's the full post of what I had to say last year. Clearly we need more specific notes for editors. And here's another post from two years ago:

SUNDAY, JULY 11, 2010

The Literary Test

 Okay, thanks for feedback all. I've cut the fourth line, hoping that the three rules actually cover the idea of tokenism. Let me know if there are further tucks or expansions needed to this revised, and hopefully simpler version of The Test. It's designed to assess any given contemporary literary discussion, publication, essay, critical debate, or otherwise purporting to be speaking generally of a literature or literatures, as opposed to something specialized, ie, men's or masculinist literature, etc. So, ideally the discussion should:

a/ include at least two female writers who are strangers to the writer (ideally one should still be alive)
b/ the writer must also be a stranger to that person (not simply a fan of the writer or a favourable reviewer)
c/ at least one of the women should not be identified soley with the literature of men (i.e. the woman referenced has her own ideas not only mirroring a male mentor or world)
Apply liberally darlings, and with humour. Make it a superfluous test.  I live to be outdated on this.  I'm hopeful. Deliriously hopeful.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Erin Moure at Concordia, February 15

Translation: Operations at the
heart (ache) of meaning

A talk with translator/poet ERIN MOURE
6pm February 15, 2012
EV6-735 (enter on Mackay, elevator to 6th)
Concordia University
1555 Ste Catherine West
All welcome

Drawing on examples from her translation practice in poetry, Erín Moure discusses translation as an operation that is not just linguistic, but social. It takes place in a social field, and is a task accomplished through—and that bears traces of—the intervention of one human body: that of the translator. In translation, the “thing” or “meaning” that is “carried across” from one text to another is never purely a representation of the work of the original author. The “new” meaning is part of a social fabric in the target language and is not solely resident in the text itself. What is meaning, after all, if it is not “our” meaning?

Moure, in her explorations of the translation process, sheds conventional oppositions between modern/postmodern, fragment/whole, subjective/objective to approach something that is perhaps closer to some of Jacques Rancière’s thinking on the distribution of the sensible.

For Moure, explorations of translation help lay bare some of the stakes of what art is, and what it is to produce art.

Organized by the Artistic Production working group, supported by

Canadian poet and translator Erín Moure lives with one foot in Montreal and one in Kelowna. In her recent O Resplandor  (2010) and—with Oana Avasilichioaei—Expeditions of a Chimæra (2009) poetry is hybrid, and emerges in translation and collaboration. Moure has translated Nicole Brossard  (with Robert Majzels ) and Louise Dupré f rom French, Chus Pato and Rosalía de Castro from Galician, Andrés Ajens from Chilean Spanish, and Fernando Pessoa from Portuguese. Her essays, My Beloved Wager (2009) are a chronicle of 25 years of writing practice. She performs and speaks internationally on poetry and translation, and her work has been honoured with awards on several occasions. The Unmemntioable, an investigation into subjectivity and experience in western Ukraine and Alberta, will appear in February 2012.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Conceptual writers take note

Looking forward to Christian Marclay's, The Clock, now at the National Gallery in Ottawa--and a very good reason to head in that direction. This piece, like his earlier work, takes advantage of the abundance of visual material at our disposal, mining contemporary film for moments that include, as we see below, a clock, or a character looking at a watch. The artist has knitted together, of these moments, a film that runs in a twenty-four hour period, in real time.

That the film works in real time is a stroke of genius, and elevates the film to the status of classic in the genre of conceptual film precisely because of the clarity and elegance. No doubt it would be remarkable to sit through 24 hours of a virtual world. An instance where the artist might seem to have penetrated the viewer's psyche and be narrating our inner lives...for surely many of the images and embedded emotions that accompany them, will look and feel very familiar. Take for example, an earlier piece of Marclay's that features telephones. You can watch this one in under 10 minutes and I think get a good sense of what is possible with this kind of archival gleaning.
The crystalline thinking is something I look for constantly in poetry and rarely find. Perhaps unfairly, one holds such instances up as remarkable moments of grace in terms of content, form, gesture--the execution resonates profoundly. Of course I've only seen bits of Marclay's piece on line, and offer them below, until I can report on the actual physical engagement. But I won't be offering up 24 hours of my life to the project, in which case any response I might have would be unfair, no? Incomplete.
And a little conversation with the artist.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Michael Nardone: On easy peasy

easy peasy, kevin mcpherson eckhoff
Snare Books, 2011


kevin mcpherson eckhoff's second collection of poems
measures in at 8 inches by 5 and 5/8 inches,
with a depth between 1/8 and 2/8 of an inch.
In this book, there are 68 surfaces:
each surface between 17.6 micrometres and 340 micrometres
in thickness, including four surfaces of "cover," over which, text
and images (illustration, photo, diagram, and, of course, text-image)
have been printed, or, perhaps, more fittingly, impressed.
Only the book's "front" "cover" has color:
a 1-inch taupish gold circle partially overlapped
by a 1-inch circle of burgundy cola,
though this particular qualitative observation
should be kept open for further inquiry, as the writer
of this review suffers from partial, or occasional, color blindness.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Donald Bartheleme, The Sentence

Or a long sentence moving at a certain pace down the page aiming for the bottom-if not the bottom of this page then some other page-where it can rest, or stop for a moment to think out the questions raised by its own (temporary) existence, which ends when the page is turned, or the sentence falls out of the mind that holds it (temporarily) in some kind of embrace, not necessarily an ardent one, but more perhaps the kind of embrace enjoyed (or endured), by a wife who has just waked up and is on her way to the bathroom in the morning to wash her hair, and is bumped into by her husband, who has been lounging at the breakfast table reading the newspaper, and doesn't see her coming out of the bedroom, but, when he bumps into her, or is bumped into by her, raises his hands to embrace her lightly,

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Linda Besner

From the id kid. Thinking about the relationship of the consonant to the Canadian poetic aesthetic. From lyric to avant gard, we love dense sound. And movement. This poem gallops, canters, struts, turns, and preens and turns and preens.
So, one relationship of consonants and sounds with or without meaning is about beauty. Or, how gap toothed beauty might be. Lovely is limited. Or what does a poem value beyond the lovely movements of the tongue?  

Wondering too, how the way this poem is built might be similar to the way a conceptual poem is built. The collection of phrases. The accumulation. The found. The blend. The parlay. The envole? Is this found content or found sound and does the form necessarily signify a lyric sensibility? What if these phrases were passed through a mixer? 

Visual Poetry: Ikea by Price

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Michael Turner curates Concrete Poetry

Can we say the more conceptual a poem the closer it gets to art? Can we say there is a precise moment in which conceptual writing became an art form. Or when conceptual art bled into writing, or poetry in particular? What might the differences between east and west coast conceptualists be? Or, is there any way we can trace influences over time and geography? Michael Turner seems to be one who is attempting to do some of this work. From an interview on Here and Elsewhere:
H&E: As a writer, does some of your personal interest in working on this exhibition come from the show’s exploration of text and its visual and poetic possibilities? 
MT: As a writer I can do a lot of things. I can put a book in a bookstore without being there to shelve it, just as I can get into your head and play with your mind. Curation is a writer’s medium. The essay is an exhibition, a sculpture — and the written essay is there to make sense of it as such. I am interested in the relationship between written and visual practices, and this led me to the writers, artists, dancers and filmmakers associated with Intermedia (1967-1973), of which Michael was a member. Some of the Intermedia writers were making concrete work well before Intermedia started, writers like bill bissett and Judith Coithorne, both of whom are included in the show. What is of interest to writers and artists exploring concrete poetry is not its expressive potential but its materiality, which often begins with the letter (that is the pun that emerges from the show — the letters we send to our friends and the letters we arrange to address those letters to them). The poet bpNichol was obsessed with the letter “H” — the eighth letter of the alphabet. Look at the two together — the “H” and the “8″. I imagine what Nichol liked best about the “H”, what distinguished it from its corresponding number (“8″), was how an “H” is just an “8″ with its top and bottom open. If Greenberg were alive today, he might suggest that writing has been surpassed by oral and pictorial forms, or by code, so if it is to continue, it needs to examine itself, explore its form, perhaps through abstraction or collage. Something similar happened in the mid-1950s with the work of concrete poets associated with the Noigandres group in Brazil and Europe. It was inevitable that this kind of exploration should happen, given what happened to painting after WWII. That it happened in many places at once, independent of each other, is testament to its inevitability. The emergence of concrete poetry — the way it emerged — is an example of the far-reaching effects of modernism.