Archive for July, 2010


The Scream Literary Festival: bpNichol’s Zygal

July 10, 2010

On July 8, The Scream Literary Festival held a late-night event in bpNichol Lane outside of Coach House Press to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the publication of bpNichol’s Zygal: A Book of Mysteries and Translations. Audience members were invited to perform from or in response to the book and many lovely folks shared material, including Bill Kennedy, Maggie Helwig, Hugh Thomas, Jenny Sampirisi, Natalie Zed, and Paul Dutton. Nichol recordings were broadcast, and one dear soul chalked a math equation of giraffes and old-style telephones on the pavement (“Probable Systems 15: Division of the Signified”).

For my Zygal reading, I shared Nichol’s “Travelling”. I like to read Tarot, and for the past two years have been developing a performance in Belgium with Maja Jantar where we read cards via vocal improvisation. Nichol’s poem proved divine transportation for me; the three groupings of lines suggested a past/present/future spread (starting left as past).

PAST: Improvised text. If memory serves, I read this something like, “There were bodies in space. Space was between these bodies. A body was in a space and then a body is in another space. There is space between these two bodies. The space is a body. Space is outside the body and inside. Bodies in space between bodies as space as bodies are space within space….”

PRESENT: Vocal improvisation triggered by the northernmost caught and cloistered voiceless inarticulation. Clearance. Troubled exhale, what is lodged in the throat. “Is. The. The. Is.” Overwhelm of memory of nowness near-vomits itself into the space.

FUTURE: And this is unknown. Blank. Open. Fraught. Thin line of now slips discomfort into what could be. Yet hope. We sat or stood in humid silence and I looked up from the book to make eye contact with each person in turn. Many returned my tentative smile. We focused. Nicky held up peace signs and we laughed. Thankfully.


The Centre for Sleep & Dream Studies

July 10, 2010

Friends have asked for a post-Centre for Sleep & Dream Studies report. And so…

The Centre for Sleep & Dream Studies was a late-night event I curated for The Scream Literary Festival on July 7, 2010 at Levack Block in Toronto. The idea for this event was to create a lounge atmosphere where attendees would be immersed within a performance that included an interactive element. I chose to go full-scale soundscape as the night’s major gesture. For collaborators, I asked two of my favourite artists in Toronto: Richard Windeyer and Ciara Adams. You may recognize their names from music circles, or from their mutual involvement as artistic directors for the experimental theatre collective bluemouth inc. (I’m on bluemouth’s board of directors). In addition to our bluemouth connection, Ciara and Richard were two of my primary collaborators and fellow performers when I began to investigate how my book, Wide slumber for lepidopterists, might translate from page to stage. It was this latter connection that begged their participation to make The Centre for Sleep & Dreams Studies a surreality Wednesday night.

But more about this event! We took over the front and back rooms of Levack Block from 10pm to 2am. The front room proved cacophonic and intense, where a boisterous crowd enjoyed conversation as Richard Windeyer improvised, composed, and live-mixed his own new music / soundscape throughout the night. Richard’s compositions included some sampling of my voice saying “Welcome to the Centre for Sleep and Dream Studies” and audience answers to a surrealist questionnaire.

In the back room, Ciara Adams worked one-on-one with crowd members in our patient-intake interview, who signed up with me to “see the doctor.” Each patient sat with Ciara for two minutes and answered a largely yes/no somniloquixotic questionnaire I devised (that featured questions from a proper Sleep/Dream Centre, questions from known surrealists, and some of my own curious queries, and a questionnaire that received loving guidance from Gary Barwin, François Luong, and Paul Vermeersch). This intimate moment proved quite a counterpoint to the bright, chaotic front room. Michael Knox volunteered as a second doctor for a brief period, even!

At the night’s end, Richard, Ciara, and I gave a short collective performance, our disturbed and disturbing lullaby for those soon to depart. While Ciara and I vocally improvised sounds of breath, fricatives, song, and orgasm, Richard captured and treated our output to create an immediate blur of acoustic and electronic. Richard shares reading of this here.

Again, much thanks to The Scream for inviting my curatorial activity. And takk fyrir to all who attended, enthused, and shared oneiric ebullience in bewitched hours. Heart is full.


Welcome to the Centre for Sleep and Dream Studies.

Do you snore?
Have you been told that you hold your breath while you sleep?
Are you irritable most or all of the time?
Do you sleep naked?
Are your eyes closed or open?

Welcome to the Scent for Leap and Ream Studies.

Do you talk in your sleep?
Do you walk in your sleep?
Do you kick in your sleep?
Do you jump in your sleep?
Do you juggle in your sleep?
Do you snuggle in your sleep?
Do you juxtapose in your sleep?
Do you adjust your knees in your sleep?
Do you sneeze in your sleep?
Do you sleep in your sleep?

Welcome to the Centaur for Elves and Demon Steeds.

Who are you?
At what age were you born?
Describe what the future sounds like, bleeding out of a speaker.
Do you ever dream of dolphins?
The most violent shape is:
The most beautiful sound is:
Do many innocent little waves weep over the softness of beds?
Have you ever had a dream that predicted the future?
Do you know the fate that awaits you?

Welcome to the Enter her Eep and Um Sturdy.

Have you been shut up in this cage for long?
Are you about to abandon us?
Is the air thick?
Do you dream of electric sheep?

Well, cum. Elk.

Have you beavered into loon?
Do you know what moose are?
Do you want to know what moose are?
Do you want to rabbit?
Do you moose your loon?
Have you beavered in moose?
Do you want to beaver in moose?
Are you in rabbit?
Are you in rabbit with loon or moose?
Are fern moose?

Well Question qu’where.

Do you question air?
Are you a questing heir?
Do you request air?
Does this question err?

Welcome to the Centre for Sleep and Dream Studies.

Where are you?
How aware are you?
Is your love everywhere?
Is it how you see it?
Isn’t it how we see it?
Is it in the lines?
Isn’t it, more or less?

Be welcome. Sleep. Dream.


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