Monday, May 31, 2010

Before the Outline of the Cow was Filled with Stars

Sentence this just proved you work that.

That works sentence proved this just you.

Works that proved you sentence this just.

Just this you that works proved sentence.

Proved that just work sentence this you.

This that you sentence work proved just.

You just proved that this sentence works.

But not me.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Servants of Dust: new chapbook!

No press is proud to announce the publication of



by Gary Barwin

With each poem in SERVANTS OF DUST, Barwin strips away all the characters except the puncutation. Each mark is then typed out, creating a new sonnet


published in an edition of 40 hand-sewn copies (of which 20 are for sale)

$5 each (including shipping)

for more information, or to order copies, email

derek beaulieu

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Accordion Breath

Whismically Labelled Farm Animals (for Craig Conley)



his river-like face

has taken my face
my river face

brother, sister, future, past
between the right eye and the left

the mouth speaks

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Oil Ode

from a recent walk on the North Shore Trails,
Burlington, Ontario near my home


Oil which is green and time together
which is the flowing voice beneath

the dark petal of the toiling earth
which gives back its flow and time

O iridescent fire which moves and warms us
O viscous technicolour coat of possibility

O blood of the industrial earth
we commute from axon to dendrite

your petroleum-blue ichor in our veins
and in the veins of our incorporeal angel cars

O blood of gods and ferns
opalescent seed in the womb of our warm sky

you are the slow combustion of ancient times
a memory returned in the mother tongue of fire

O Oil, clothe us in your wild skin,
let us surprise the naked lamb of the world with our vigour

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

After Liberty

Two images of mine derived a visponversation with Nico Vassilakis, Scott Helmes, and Rosarie Appel posted on Compostxt as After Liberty

Two Fivescapes for Geof Huth on his 50thday.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Roadkill: you can only say so much in two-dimensions

for Jim Smith

Road in the passenger seat
belt across its yellow-dashed middle

Is it those who have no walls
have no house or no tongue?

Blood flows only in or out of the heart
until something happens

I’ve only travelled
this one road, Road says
and we all know where that goes

The moon is the hot breath of a dog on our tail
night a collapsed lung
wheezing from over the bruise-closed horizon

and my eyes are shut tight like History
Biology or shop class which
was all about fingers
spinning out of control

Mother is mixing something
coal dust and flapjacks, maybe
rocketfuel and Father’s pension

Roadkill: you can only say
so much in two-dimensions
Road says

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shakespeare Sonnets 101 (mouthed) 114 (sexed)

Further exploits in the conceptual translation of Shakespeare's Sonnets.

Shakespeare Sonnets: Punctuation as Parts of Speech

Punctuation as Sex



this is the poem
new born

this is the poem in
early childhood

this is
the poem in its adolescence

this is the poem
as a young parent

this is the
poem in its prime

is the poem growing old

this is the dying

this is the poem's memory

Advice to Writers

Sometime in 2004, The Hamilton Spectator (affectionately known as the Hamilton Expectorator) invited some local writers to give some advice to young writers. Though I wrote this for teens, I think it applies not only to me but to mature writers also.

Advice to Writers

1. Never try to create a masterpiece. Just write something that you like.

2. Read every kind of writing.

3. Try writing every kind of writing.

4. Don’t hang your hopes on inspiration, but rather on imagination, creative play, and developing skill.

5. Publish – make your own books, chapbooks, magazines and zines.

6. Make/discover a community of other writers.

7. Make/discover an audience of readers & listeners.

8. Find a thoughtful, inspiring, non-patronizing mentor who’s not afraid to tell it like it is.

9. Like most writers you may think that what you’ve written is lumpy misshapen crud, but look at it next week.

10. Like most writers, you may think that what you’ve written is better than Dickens, but look at it next week.

11. Be willing to eddit, to eedit, to editt, to edit. The difference between a good writer and a bad writer is that the good writer mines their bad writing for the few nuggets worth keeping. A bad writer just keeps it all.

12. Try out other solutions: you can’t break a piece of writing & you can always go back to an earlier draft.

13. Don’t hold on to your initial ideas, but be open to what you discover as you write – your writing process may be smarter than you are.

14. Try to imitate other writers and don’t worry if you don’t end up sounding like them. Once you’ve started a bad imitation, you may find something interesting in what you’ve written.

15. Read every kind of writing

16. And buy all of my books. Give copies to your relatives.

17. And keep writing. An Olympic runner runs and runs and runs. A writer keeps writing.

18. Finally, remember painting when you were five? You used your fingers, your nose, your little brother. You played. You experimented. You had fun.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Spaces in Shakespeare's Sonnet 154

Last night I dreamt, not the words in Shakespeare, but the spaces in between.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Don't go all Sisyphus on Me

A sculpture I have always really enjoyed in Hamilton's Bayfront Park. I don't know the artist, unfortunately. It reminds me of a coffee cup that I have on my desk which has a lock attached to the handle, 'so no-one can steal it.' Perhaps I should read this piece as securing the ground so that no-one walks off with it. The Bayfront is one of the rare large community recreation places in Hamilton.

A visual treatment of a poem of mine, as situated on my study wall. I've really enjoyed over the years as people, particularly my kids and their friends, puzzle through the piece and question the 'right' way to read it. They also have tried to invent multiple reading/paths through that text, speculating on what they might mean. This wouldn't have happened if the poem remained in a book, I don't believe.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shakespeare Sonnet 150 (for Gregory Betts)

Indie Literary Market - Toronto June 5

"We also see our events as responding to, and facilitating community around literature and publishing. The technology of the book is not one merely of information technology, but interactive technology. Readers, writers, and publishers come together to share their ‘joie de livre’ in a context that is outside of the strictures of predominantly market-driven publishing. We can turn on a dime, because we don’t need thousands of dollars to continue. Our ‘share-holders’ are people who 'share' in our work by 'holding' our publications in their hands, and share our mutual appreciation of independent literature and publishing."

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Unfinished OIl Spill in the Gulf

We’re poets and so
bury ourselves
in the ocean floor

We begin
a pouring out
of shorelines
shrimp boats
from our open mouths

soon it reaches land

the land, what:
1. sparkles
2. thanks us
3. knows what to do
4. takes its sandy fists and K.O.’s oil
5. the industry
6. ourselves
7. love

. . .


Somewhere in the back pages (!) of my local newspaper, there was a story about an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A few days ago, I began trying to write something about it. Something in me wants to sit down and write a short lyric filled with power and wisdom that addresses the situation, and what? Stirs us to action? Contextualizes the situation in terms of history, economics, languages, culture, history, transcendent love? I'm not certain. But, I'd expect, writing this would involve some distance and a long process of investigation and self and social examination. (Unless I could get myself into some Romantic-poet state of altered consciousness and stay up for nights in a row on some kind of emotional, inspiration Absinthe bender, but then, of course, that would, one presumes, preclude the insightful deconstruction of how language, representation, politics, economics, etc. enter into into it.) So, after a morning of writing, my poem would not tie up the situation in a bow, but instead, inspire, call to action, investigate and disentangle, and by the power of its expression and searing perspicacity and laser-like intellectual investigation trouble a situation fraught with complexity and 'multi-facetedicity', even as it points to actual physical and political action in the world and to a revisioning of current affairs.

But, after a short time, perhaps half an hour, I abandoned the idea. Perhaps, ultimately, not this particular event, but an understanding of a larger context informs some of my recent work, though in an indirect way.

I am looking forward to reading Rachel Zolf's Neighbour Procedure, just out from Coach House. Based on her past work, and the chapbook-sized section I've read, I expect that she does do what I've described, though in a context of Arab-Israel socio-politics. Here's an audio excerpt. Her work is powerful, complex, engaging, and inspiring.


The frame for the above image was shamelessly stolen from a lovely piece at abstract comics. The above image was created as a response. Thanks.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Wikipedia Bible

Since Beth and I spent the weekend designing, cutting, glueing, addressing, and enveloping Bat Mitzvah invitations for our daughter's upcoming Bat Mitzvah, I thought that this story which I wrote for a teen flash fiction anthology might be an appropriate post for tonight.


I put my Bar Mitzvah suit on. It’s been a couple years. It almost fits. I’m going door-to-door, down the street, one house behind them. How do they do it, going to our front doors, telling us what God wants us to know? I think, if God exists, God wouldn’t need them to knock. God would shoot in through the keyhole while turning the threshold to fire, or use the door as a tenth-dimension portal in a corny joke at a party with Spacetime, and then transform the house into a skeleton of pure light, or an iPod with inconceivable new features. I’d have to kill you if I told you what they were, but you can sync with elephants, oceans, and most of the constellations.

I knock on the door and say, “I’m creating a Wikipedia Bible. I want you to write what you believe and post it on the Internet. What? You already have. Great. Thanks for your time.” But of course, I don’t really do that. Instead, I sit in my suit in the backyard and remember when my grandmother told me that she stopped believing in God. It happened during the war when most of her family was killed. So before my Bar Mitzvah, I told the Rabbi that I didn’t believe in God. He said, “Do you want to help people?”
“I guess,” I said.
“Then you believe in God,” he smiled.

I think wondering if you believe in God is like asking the Internet if it believes in computers, or a computer if it believes in electricity. God is the ultimate screenname for everything. Everything is everything no matter what you call it. What you do about it is something else.

My parents are upstairs, getting ready. The limo will arrive soon and then we’ll all go to the chapel for my grandmother’s funeral. She’d been in the hospital for days and we were all there when it happened. My parents, uncles and aunts, cousins, my sister, back from university. It didn’t seem like she knew we were there, but I think she did. My mother held one of her hands, one of my aunts held the other. We were all quiet except for the little kids, and we watched the numbers on the monitors get smaller and smaller, the green waves on the monitors become just ripples, as if the wind in there was getting softer and softer, just like my grandmother’s breathing.

The screen door at the back of the house squawks open. My mother tells me its time. As I walk into the kitchen, she wraps her arms around me tight. “Hug me back,” she says.