June 19, 2013

Pascalle Burton, in collaboration with the Queensland Poetry Festival (Brisbane, Australia), has announced a special letterbox installation at this year’s festival. She requested five former/current poets in residence (Jacqueline Turner, Emily XYZ, Jacob Polley, Shane Rhodes, and me) to compose circle poems, which has subsequently been set on rubber stamps. These will be collectible during the festival.

Pascalle launched a website about the project today. There, you will find interviews with each poet. My interview– discussing cycles, narrative, structure, and material– is online here. An excerpt:

Your piece Ligature in G makes use of the circuits and interconnectivity of words and letters, bringing focus to both meaning and form. Could you talk us through the piece and how it came to be?

Ligature connects the first two letters of each word with the previous word’s two ending letters. As an additional governing structure, every word contains the letter G (with its ever attractive near-circle form). With the emphasis so heavily torqued to emphasize word similarity rather than syntax, readers are presented with a spaceless text that requests an engaged, focused reading. The discovery of words invites, then, the further consideration for the reader: how do these words relate to one another contextually? We are trained, as young readers, to search for narrative, for story, as the primary mode of relatability and interconnection in text-driven works. So this syntax-less ligature offers a reader the possibility to tease out narrative from what connects where, and/or to question the over-reliance on narrative structures in our engagements with text, with life. Someone who views the text outside of narrative might further extrapolate — if reflecting on the circular structure of the poem — an interrogation of cyclic ‘truth’ as well. Are the structures we’ve inherited or intuited as ‘fact’ (here using cycles as our example) the sole way of reading, viewing, comprehending?

The site also has detailed on how you can contribute, too.



June 5, 2013

An homage to bpNichol! An experiment in collective creation! Circumventing geography! Digital structured improvisation! Tweet-tastic! Tune into Twitter and follow #bpNichol to witness his texts dance through the fingers of many loving bodies.


Vancouver: 16:00-17:30 ON THURSDAY, JUNE 6th
Calgary/Edmonton: 17:00-18:30 ON THURSDAY, JUNE 6th
Ottawa/Toronto: 19:00-20:30 ON THURSDAY, JUNE 6th
Ísafjörður/Reykjavík: 23:00-00:30 ON THURSDAY, 6th to FRIDAY, JUNE 7th
London, UK: 00:00-1:30am ON FRIDAY, JUNE 7th
Berlin/Ghent: 1:00-2:30am ON FRIDAY, JUNE 7th
Brisbane: 9:00-10:30am ON FRIDAY, JUNE 7th





angela rawlings, Ray Hsu, Christine Leclerc, Elee Kraljii Gardiner, Carmel Purkis, Angela Hibbs, Jamie Popowich, Angela Szczepaniak, Lainna Lane El Jabi, Craig Dodman, Eirikur Örn Norðdahl, Nikki Reimer, Julie Beveridge, Sonnet L’Abbé, Helen White, Sachiko Murakami, Kári Páll Óskarsson, Sarah Gory, Kári Tulinius, Michael Christopher Holmes, Gary Barwin, Natalie Zina Walschots, Christian Bök, Shannon Meek, John Wrighton, UK Centre for Contemporary Poetry, Lindsay Cahill, Chloë Callistemon




The Great Canadian Writer’s Craft

May 30, 2013

I initiated The Great Canadian Writer’s Craft in 2011, and am thrilled to announce its 2013 continuation. Details…

Arts education with a twist, high-school teacher John Ouzas and poet angela rawlings have collaborated on an in-depth summative project designed to support high-school curriculum while connecting students with a wider, active, contemporary literary community. The results are available online here:

The Great Canadian Writer’s Craft

Students Interview Poets


This spring, Toronto high-school students at Malvern Collegiate Institute conducted interviews with some of Canada’s finest poets. The interviews feature savvy journalism from John Ouzas’ Grade 12 Writer’s Craft class— the continuation of a pilot project commenced in 2011.

The Great Canadian Writer’s Craft includes cumulative exercises exposing students to a variety of writing practices (from contemporary poetry to journalism, short autobiography to editorial feedback, and media literacy to thank-you letters). The long-term, open-access, public results of this project are these fantastic interviews, conducted by students. For a complete overview of how the project works as well as all supporters and 2011 participants, please click here.

In Spring 2013, the Writer’s Craft class interviewed poets from across Canada: a rawlingsAdam DickinsonAngela SzczepaniakBeatriz HausnerDani CoutureGarry Thomas MorseJason ChristieJenny SampirisiJordan ScottMark TruscottNikki ReimerSonnet L’Abbé, and Steve Venright. The project extends its ties within the literary scene as OpenBook: Toronto will publish three student interviews per week for the duration of June— offering many students their first publication credit.

To learn more about the project, read OpenBook’s interview with angela rawlings and John Ouzas: http://www.openbooktoronto.com/great_canadian_writers_craft/main


Interview on Jacket2

May 16, 2013

Gary Barwin’s visual poetry commentary and interviews on Jacket2 visited my Gibber recently. We discussed poethics, countermapping, and Barthes’ Pleasure of the Text. Deep gratitude for Gary’s engagement, questions, insight. An excerpt:

GB: In Gibber, you explore how language names/claims the land, how it ‘marks’ it. But, you seem to say that, through a lively, engaged and aware reading, we can unpack the assumptions of language and consider how it can or cannot become part of the ecosystem and/or biosemantic lang/dscape. You explore how the landscape can be read as its own text as opposed to how we read the landscape through our preconceptions, through the conceptual (textual) frame work of our naming, our categorization. Thinking about Barthes’ Pleasure of the Text, would you say that we might imagine the environment a ‘writerly’ text as opposed to a ‘readerly’ one?

ar: I thought about Barthes’ Pleasure of the Text, and looked at Gibber gestures through Pleasure’slens. Marveled at this potential revision: “That is the pleasure of the text: value shifted to the sumptuous rank of the” signified.

What does it help us to fashion an ecosystem (or any ecosystem components) as a text, or to fashion an ecosystem (or any…) as a writer of its own text? What does it help us to imagine an ecosystem (or…) as a collaborator? Each analogy roots the relational seed of interconnection; it pursues hope that we can sense our way into healthier relationship with all that surrounds, sustains, confounds.

Look again: is language an only / a lonely sense for conceiving the world? What sensory components build the linguistic? Listen well. Gibber may be more about conversation than text. Or if text, then text as representing, archiving, recreating the conversation. The conversation between (human and other-than-human) bodies.



Le laboratoire l’autre musique

May 11, 2013

Le laboratoire l’autre musique features Maja Jantar and me performing an excerpt of echolology. Of interest may be a short interview describing our approach to the text as a score.

1. How would you describe this form of writing sound and / or music?

These two pieces are excerpted from a larger written work by a rawlings, entitled echolology. In part, the overall project considers the role that language plays in environmental degradation — and how to shift towards a sustainable interconnection via language deployment. As such, this form of writing sound could be classified as ecopoetic performance writing or sound-poetry scores.

2. How do you think your proposal can be interpreted?

These scores are comprised of text, and we have inherited strategies for how to voice text. Part of our work is to gently interrogate assumed speech strategies. How else might text prompt a reader (a vocalist) if considered as a score (rather than as text governed by conventional utterance rules)? Isn’t it exercises of this kind that help to strengthen transdisciplinary, non-conventional thought and action — skills needed also given the significant challenges facing all ecosystems on Earth?

3. What meanings or additional level provides this particular form of writing to the performance and / or to the interpretation of the work?

In the performance of the scores we’ve offered here, we retain some strategies (pronunciation of allophones, intonation guided by syntax) while incorporating non-conventional approaches (shift from speech to song, monotone, dissonance, certain letters as pitch-shifters, etc.). We also find aural performance of text (or the score comprised of text) conducive to improvisation (since there is a level of improvisation inherent in every speech-act) — and we exaggerate the possibility of improvisation in how we move through the scores (particularly in “Tree hymn,” where all pitch-work and speed choices are improvised).

The repetition of “I will not ruin the environment” offers an opportunity for a listener’s focus to shift from semantics to sound, and for the sound to intone semantics other than what is stated. “Tree hymn,” on the other hand, finds words and sentences in states of decomposition — prompting would-be readers to consider aural translation of this effect.


On “rout/e”

May 10, 2013

Chris Turnbull wrote to update me on the status of her project ROUT/E, which plants poems in plexiglass along trails near Ottawa. In 2011, she planted “I Will Not Ruin the Environment,” an excerpt from my work-in-progress echolology. From Chris:

Angela, accompanied by 2 wild 7 year olds on the weekend, I returned to Wood Rd., where I placed your poem in 2011. It was cold when I planted it in the snow, and the camera froze…and then I didn’t get back again until Saturday. If you remember, the trail is interesting for a bunch of reasons, one of them being that it is a local ‘dump’ site for about a km along the trail – coffee cups, mattresses, tires, old bottles of kerosene, or miscellaneous liquids litter the sides of the trail. Inhabit the sides? This time around, someone has been making an effort to collect the garbage and has piled it into several piles – it looks near archived :)  One of these piles was neatly collected in a metal frame and consisted of tires, bottles (as above) and other bits.  Someone had put your poem, still completely intact on post, in the front corner of the metal frame, fronting the garbage. Your poem, which was printed on 8.5×11 paper, with a 1 inch border, was securely under the plexiglass – no water had managed to mar the paper or words.  On the outside, it was mud on plexiglass that framed your poem – completely obliterating the 1 inch margin near exactly, without obscuring any of the language. Fascinating and perfect.

It’s one of my favourite trails – I was in time to see the trout lilies in bloom, bloodroot emerging, and among other things, wild ginger. The boys had fun pronouncing celandine and found 3 beaver leeches at the pond/marsh farther along, which they examined, poked at, and refound several times.

Curating the Cosmos

April 13, 2013

Gibber is included in Curating the Cosmos, an online art exhibition curated for the annual conference of the Association of American Geographers. The curators also offer a nice contextualizing essay. Here is an excerpt.

Poetic Bodies with Landscapes

In Gibber, the Aeolian Marsh, and The Confluence we find work that speaks to an embodied poetics built around a practice of experimentation and performance. Placing it within a Humboltian sense of unity, Gibber, the work of rawlings, resonates with Wylie’s (2005) conception of landscape understood as that “with which” we see, such that rawlings’ “ecopoethic praxis” is an enactment of practice with the landscape. This is a practice attentive to the shaping of bodies and processes, which are of and within the landscape. Such a mode of practice is evident elsewhere in Berner and Stanley’s Aeolian Marsh a “work utterly dependent on what the weather did” (Berner and Stanley). The engagement with the cosmos here is one of attentiveness and immanence, one where control and agency is distributed between and across bodies, be they human, nonhuman, or something else. This resonates with the “humanimal materialist geography,” of Russo’s piece The Confluence, which is also a practice deeply aware of ethics and human/non-human positionality.

Each of these works, then, is highly creative-critical-political in their stance. From rawlings’ interrogation and unsettling of the anthropocentricities of language and the hegemonic power relationships those languages support, to Russo’s placement of The Confluence as counter-mapping-radical-poetics, to Berner and Stanley’s nuanced understanding of Arrowhead Marsh which, situates their piece as poetics-hybrid-political ecology, these three poets illustrate the possibilities that such practices point toward in eco-politicizing creative geographies.

Within their critical and political stance, it is important to note that these pieces are also playful. We suspect this playfulness, which is based on openness and a desire to work in a field that migrates across bodies and disciplines, is key to reimagining, mapping, and counter-mapping the human place in the cosmos. What is more, playfulness migrates across many other works within this collection which, challenge the way we perceive ‘reality’ and the cosmos. Such works resonate with what Deleuze and Guattari term the ‘play of the world,’ which can be seen in ‘a semiotic fragment [that] rubs shoulders with a chemical interaction, an electron crashes into a language, a black hole captures a genetic message’ (2004[1987]:77). Play here, then, becomes entangled with the heterogenity and openness of experience such that it can be understood as a means of acknowledging the manner in which ‘[d]isparate elements … come together in a multitude of different ways’ (Clark 2003).”


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