Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Deer Barcode

Double Tiger Barcode (for Satu Kaikkonen's Time for Vispo project)

Double Tiger Barcode Tapestry (for Jonathan Jones)

Several Double Tiger Barcode Verses
from The Chant of Price Index

double tiger barcode
double tiger barcode

full moon regret tiger barcode
full moon egret great tiger barcode

double tiger barcode
double tiger barcode

persimmon great double tiger barcode


double tiger barcode
double tiger barcode

egret citizen price index double tiger barcode
double tiger barcode
consumer regret great tiger barcode

sand toes sand dollar standing looking tiger barcode
santa’s sent dollars standing consumer tiger barcode

double tiger barcode
double tiger barcode

bailiff consumer perfume treebark barcode
bailiff consumer perfume double prize tiger barcode

double tiger barcode
double tiger barcode



Monday, June 28, 2010

Music, punctuation, porcupinity, reality, small press: Alessandro Porco's interview with me for Open Book Toronto.

 We haven't decided on a cover, but here are two very draft mock-ups, just playing around really. The first features a beautiful photo of a cactus by my son Ryan.

Alessandro Porco interviewed me at Open Book Toronto about many aspects of my work: music, grad school, small press, punctuation, my forthcoming book (The Porcupinity of the Stars, Coach House), (sur)realism, and spelunking. It was a great interview and an excellent opportunity for me to articulate some things that I've been thinking about but never had the occasion to really talk about.

Satu Kaikkonen's 'Time for a Vispo' Project 1

Sometimes you can't see the forest for the barcode.


Satu Kaikkonen has a great vispo project called, surprisingly, 'Time for a Vispo' where she posts images for Vispo artists to play with. The first challenge was the image of a barcode, that single unbent helix of modern consumer life. The other artist's workings with her first challenge can be found here.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Please help This Ain't the Rosedale Library!

Please help This Ain't the Rosedale Library!

Hey folks,

(I stole this from Paul Vermeersch's blog who stole it from Jake McArthur Mooney's...but it's for a good cause, and the more places we post this, the better, so...)

As promised, here is the go-to information for how to donate to the grassroots cause of saving This Ain’t the Rosedale library and, if not quite doing that, at least recognizing that what Charlie and Jesse have been doing for the last thirty years amounts to a form of public service. If we can’t save the store, we should at least let our thanks be known to the owners. Donations of any and all sizes will be appreciated. I gave them a hundred bucks, which is an amount of money I routinely pay my bartender for what amounts to a hangover and a lingering sense of guilt. I won’t miss it as much as a bookstore. If you have more, you should consider giving more. Or less, whatever you can reasonably spare.

Here’s a link to paypal page. And, to pull the heartstrings, here’s Charlie’s personal message describing recent events at the store…

“Our situation, which could be told as a long story about the plight of bookstores in Toronto and in many North American cities, is really quite a simple one. At our new location in Kensington Market we found a space with lower rent and overheads which thus represented an enticing solution to the difficulty of inflated rents facing many stores of our kind. For a year we worked in this space happily, until the recession hit with full force and we began to fall behind with our rent. Our response to this situation was similar to that of any small retail business. We bought shrewdly, held regular events, did book tables for small press launches, conferences and author appearances, did not invest in advertising, fixtures, signage or renovations, kept only minimal staff (the store has one part-time staff person), and most importantly worked full-time or more with long store hours, while drawing the absolute minimum for our own rent and expenses. In this way we were able, albeit very gradually, to pay our back-rent, and maintain an amicable relationship with out landlord. While the space presented a number of challenges, including our basement flooding whenever there was heavy rain, and though we heard many stories of rent reductions in our own neighborhood we were not offered this option, but continued none-the-less to enjoy working at the store and feel inspired by our customers’ enthusiasm for the books that we were selling. Quite suddenly this changed. Our landlord became impatient with the rate at which we were able to pay her and made demands for large repayments, without providing a precise accounting of what was owing. In light of our workload and the proliferation of other causes in this city, a fundraiser remained only an idea. Instead we responded to these unrealistic demands with an informal proposal which would not have been profitable to us, but to our landlord. We received only further demands which we attempted to meet within our resources until the locks were changed on Friday June 19th. We are once again offering our landlord a choice which would be beneficial to her and allow us to re-open our doors, and are hoping that the outpouring of encouragement from the public might influence our situation. Along with this we are seeking help with organizing a fundraiser, and we are accepting PayPal donations. As we were living day-to-day, as many small business owners do for years after opening or relocating, our own livelihood has been erased, and our present situation is very uncertain. None-the-less we have seen that many people value what we do and are eager to help us, and thus remain hopeful that a resolution is around the corner.”

-- Jesse and Charlie Huisken.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


[Image: Alessandro Poli, Zeno-research of a self-sufficient culture (1979-80). ©Archivio Alessandro Poli. Photo: Antonio Quattrone. Courtesy of the Canadian Centre for Architecture].

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Heine Site blog: A Little Poetry Project

I've moved my Heine multi-draft project to a new blog, which is here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Heine Site (Little Poetry Project:) 2: Martin Avery

Martin Avery, writing teacher and author of many books contributed this:

Heinrich Heine And I Went Walking By The Fake Lake

Heinrich Heine and I went for a walk in Toronto during the G20 meeting to see the Metro Convention Centre and join in the protests against globalization and the idea that selected leaders from the richest countries on the planet could set the agenda for everybody on Earth. After throwing some eggs and spray-painting anarchist slogans on the CBC building, we grabbed a cab and went down to the CNE to see the fake lake.

Heine had been out of the picture for a long time, so I had to fill him in on what was happening. I told him Canada’s Conservative government had shelled out $1.9 million for a display called the Canadian Corridor that included a fake Muskoka lake.
The exhibit was intended to give international reporters who couldn’t make it up to Muskoka for the G8 a taste of cottage country and to provide a backdrop for television crews. The display was inside the Toronto media centre on the CNE grounds.
The fake lake had a fake dock and fake canoes and a few Muskoka chairs. The budget for the two summits that overlap on the last weekend of June has been pegged at $1.1 billion. We call it Fuddle Duddle Puddle, I told him. Or Swine Lake, Pork Barrel Bay, Piggies Cove. Lake Takenmytaxes.

He said it reminded him of Lake Lethe and of a time he saw a crowd of flowers in bloom by a lake in Germany, one summer, and how he wished he had picked them, years later, when he was dying.

“How I regret I never fully had that sweetheart in her bed,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said. “I know what you mean, but, well, what can you do with a banjo when you’re lazy and the moon is full?”

He said, “Often there is a violet light that burns inside my head like a cloying rhyme never fully closed, and there are doors where my eyes, ears, mouth, and nose should be. What could that mean?” he asked me. ‘I have a foolish heart?’ I gave him a friendly punch in the arm and reminded him of the play he wrote, called Almansor, about the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Qur'an, during the Spanish Inquisition.
“You wrote, "Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings".”
And I told him that, a century later, his books were among the thousands of volumes that were torched by the Nazis in Berlin's Opernplatz.
We talked about his conversion to Christianity, and back, and I asked him what heaven’s like, even though I know people on the other side are not supposed to talk about that.
“It’s like this scene with the lake, the dock, the canoes, and the Muskoka chairs,” he said, “in a way.”
“I knew it!” I said.
And then we stopped to buy some bottled water from Lake Lethe.
“Thanks for coming, Chaim” I said. “L’chaim!”

“Forgetaboutit,” he said with a smile. “And keep your eye on this government,” he added.

Notes: I was thinking about the G8 in Muskoka and G20 in Toront, and I wanted to write a poem about the ‘fake lake’ when I got the request from Moribund Facekevetch on Facebook. I thought I’d rewrite Ka’naan’s soccer song, “Wavin’ Flag”, but make it about the fake lake. But then your note got me thinking about Heine and how much I’ve wanted to meet him. I’ve been writing about channeling Balzac, lately, so I channeled Heine. I didn’t make up this story, I just reported on what happened, as Kafka used to say.

Heine Site (Little Poetry Project:) 1: Hugh Thomas

Hugh Thomas, author of most recently Heart Badly Buried by Five Shovels very quickly responded to my call with this excellent version of the poem.

What can you do with a banjo
there are a number of directions to proceed
when you’re lazy and the moon is full
what others might do with

the brain’s proud smoulder
I'd love to see
the smoke-like tendrils of thought
plus some commentary

I'm wretched and lying
I'd love to see
inside my head
never fully closed

or some radical departure from it
I never regret
what you did
what does that mean

If you're interested in
sweet midnight words
just do some work
or something more final

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Little Poetry Project

Here is a little poetry project that I've started tonight.

I sent a number of different poets the following note and poem:

Here’s the idea. I wrote this draft based on line-by-line responses to a Heine poem.. If this were my poem, I’d reckon the poem is not too bad, but needs a serious edit /rework. It needs shaping, tightening, focussing or maybe an extreme rethink. Thinking about it, I could see that there were a number of directions to proceed. So, I thought I’d send it to various different writers and see what they might do with it. How, if it were their draft, they would proceed. I’d love to see some different versions plus some commentary. This text might just be the a jumping off point from some radical department from it, or it might be completely rearranged. Or else, it might just need some ‘styling’, as the hairdressers say. I think that's how my hair once got to be shaped like a dying swan.

If you’re interested in participating, I’d be thrilled. Just do some work on the poem, maybe write a few notes about what you did, and send it back to me. I’ll post the replies on my blog. I'm really interested in how different writers take drafts and shape them toward what they consider something more final.

Here's the poem:

Gedichte 1853 Und 1854: Zum Lazarus: ‘Einst sah ich viele’

What can you do with a banjo
when you’re lazy and the moon is full
the brain’s proud smoulder
the smoke-like tendrils of thought

(or …the brain’s smoke-like hearse
puts the smoulder to the real)
(or…the smoke-like brain
puts the smoulder to the real)

I’m wretched and lying
like an old poem

often a violet burns inside my head
like a cloying rhyme
never fully closed

doors where my eyes, ears, mouth, nose
should be

I never regret moonlight in my bed
a banjo, a memory, a regret
another cloying poem-thing

‘I have a foolish heart?’
what does that mean
sweet, forgetful midnight words?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Dennis Bathory-Kitsz and The Blood Countess

For over 20 years, Dennis Bathory-Kitsz has been working on, in addition to other works in his prodigious musical output, an opera based on Elizabeth Bathory, the 'Blood Countess,' who supposed killed 600 of her servants from the local village. It is a truly Gothic tale of murder, political intrigue, and erudition. She's a fascinating historical figure. And supposedly, she didn't actually bathe in blood, though there is that legend...and maybe it's good for the hair. Here's Dennis site wherein you can learn more about her.

Dennis is a brilliant & inventive composer as well as a truly great supporter of others (he was one half of Kalvos and Damian New Music Bazaar which is legendary for its fascinating, freewheeling, wildly inventive, and funny interviews, discussions, and performances of really vital, exciting contemporary music. It's still available online.)

In Erzsebet: The Blood Countess Opera, he speaks about his opera and makes a charming, interesting, earnest, and humourous appeal for people to contribute. This is a really worthwhile project written by someone who has spent countless hours writing great music and supporting other composers. It would be a truly fantastic thing to see finished and produced.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Meet the Presses Indie Literary Market: June 5, 2010

Here are some pictures from this past Saturday's Meet the Presses "Indie Literary Market" at Clinton's in Toronto. A great day of books, small presses, writers, readers, and of just general joie de livres.

Stuart Ross (centre), Jim Johnstone (left) of Misunderstanding Magazine, Marshall Hryciuk (right) of Red Iron Press.

Coach House Book marketing and technology intern Kira Dreimanis

Denis de Klerck (centre) of Mansfield Press which has just announced it's Stuart Ross imprint. Fantastic!

Andrew Faulkner and Leigh Nash of Emergency Response Unit Press.

Jay MillAr of BookThug. Just beside him, just out of view is the digital display of the Last Vispo anthology of Visual poetry that was featured.

Meet the Presses. Talk to the writers and publishers. See them gesticulate. Here is Nick Power gesturing as he talks about his Gesture Press.

Friday, June 04, 2010

New chapbook! The Punctuation of Thieves

Just in time for the Meet the Presses Indie Literary Market, serif of nottingham editions has released a new chapbook. This little book takes the best of my punctuation prose poems (many from this blog) along with some related punctuation and ampersandic images and puts them together into a chapbookish goulash.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Capitalizing Punctuation

Eddie was an explorer. He said the trick was to remain still, and let the discoveries come to you. He had discovered several continents, a cat, and our father, undressed, walking through the house shaving. Discovery is an invisible labyrinth, he said. Eventually, everything finds its way into the open. Soon I will discover a new kind of shadow and a way to step out of it, leaving my skin like a snake.

A romantic idea. The final autumn. Near the end of the world, the last leaf on the last tree. I am underneath its branches looking up. The last leaf falls into my open mouth. I think of you as I chew on it.

A word processor that underlines conventional grammar. That marks up continuities and standardization. That prompts the writer with words that are not synonyms. That encourages divergent spelling. That capitalizes punctuation.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


(The following poem is something I'm working on inspired by Craig Conley's illustration of a line from J. Karl Bogartte.)



replace the head of a deer
another deer

he took his daily walk
at precisely the same time
so they set the town clock to it

I replace myself with
my mirror image

but each afternoon, he timed his walk
to the clock

a deer is the sky
and also
the ground

get closer
take a walk on the other side


when does one deer
end and the other begin?

night on both sides of
the earth at once

the wolf became the sundial
the shadows are sheep

the same constellations
different stars


in the mirror
a twin cannot see himself

time in
sheep’s clothing
the mirror in its own clothes


night is
an absent deer

antlers sliver into
the silver skin

what else were you going to do
with antlers?


the first glance
the thing itself

the second glances
off rhe surface

a frog off a frozen pond


the deer sheds
its ballast of light

here’s the thing:

each thing is
but at the same time