Friday, October 28, 2011

I'm in love with a single pixel of you

Today, I've a poem in a snazzy online magazine. Branch Magazine. It's interesting, mixing fashion, design, and poetry. And Fred Wah, who is the featured writer. My poem is about a single, criminal pixel. That I'm in love with.

In the last month, my writing has found itself in a variety of different contexts. The International Festival of Authors (Toronto), the International Poetry Festival (Iceland), chickaDEE magazine, Taddle Creek Magazine.  I've an image on the cover of M.D. Dunn's new book, Fancy Clapping, a blurb on the back of that and of Carey Toane's new The Crystal Palace. An image of mine appeared on the poster and the program for the International Poetry Festival in Iceland and the Reykjavik Grapeline printed a full page reproduction of a visual poem of mine. As we speak, my son is writing a country song based on my country zombie lyrics. And I'm reading at the Pivot Reading series on November 2nd. Think I'm going to do some Origami for Terrorists, a sound poem about breathing, and maybe play some flute.

So: How is meaning made? Oh I remember. From ducks. Different ducks. Or is it by comparing different ducks? I can't remember. These ideas run like water off my back and I only know that I have a back by walking forward and seeing what follows from that.

Hey friends, you've got my what? Please give it back. How can I lie down and look up at the clouds? Some of them look like words. My friends that is.

I went last night to the Westdale Cinema and watched Herzog's film about paleolithic caves, Cave of Forgotten Dreams. A beautiful, moving, slow-burning juniper-fuse of a film. I got myself hopped up on Twizzlers and watched the shadows move across the ancient undulating horses and rhinocirrocumulus cave-wall skies, cave-bear scratches like vapor trials across the breathing images.

A scientist spoke of the permeability and fluidity of ancient thinking. A man can become a bull, or a horse can become a river. Identity is fluid. But reality is also permeable. There's not an impermafrost: the metaphysical shares its imaginary spirit-world neutrinos with the tangible anti-Platonic protonouns of the physical world.

What is one pixel? A thing, an idea? A faster-than-light non-neutralino in the/a world without light but filled with shadows? Is light the shadow of a shadow?

Which is not to say that what is not the shadow of the duck is necessarily a duck. Rain also has a shadow.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


a reply to Geof Huth's discussion of Against Expression.


Poetry is everything that is the case.


My emotion is your emotion.

But I’m just not feeling it.

I mean, where’s the love?

It’s poetry in emotion, but I’m feeling very notional.

Though these days, I’m feeling for all of us.

Words cannot express…

Just saying.


Expression is a literary device. Like metaphor or…apophenia. It is also a human experience. Or so we say and think. How we conceptualize expression, emotion, the human, or the self may change, and is subject to (changes in) language, technology, culture, epistemology, ontology, psychology, and Facebook.

How emotion or the self (or selves) – the lyric, the semi-lyric, or the illyric, the lyrictus – appears in writing varies. Is TBA. The N/A may be. Or not.

Self-expression may be shelf-expression. Shelf-centred. Shellfish centred. Self-centaured. Selves-expression. Ex-expression. Oxpression (boustrophedalia). Santa and the selves. Crowed sourced. The cloud reveals its soul in the fog. The shadow in the absence of dog. We don’t necessarily express our selves in our expression.

They said my work was emotionally one-dimensional.

It hurt my feeling.


The self and its effluvia – emotion – need not be present in writing. Possible but not necessary. The effluvia of some writing is the self, the way the broken mirror or the empty window are effulgentia of light. There may be emotion without the self. Or vice versa. (I know about this. I once had a girlfriend…)

One can always write ‘a sonnet’ about the reading experience.

Is there reading without the self? The feeling brain behind the reading face. Or fingers (if only four, in a white glove, big round ears like satellite dishes to the animated made-of-frames mind.)

Who turned out delight?

In what way is the conceptual expressive? Is the expressive conceptual?

Poetry still has a use to articulate, conceptualize, theorize, frame, and create paradigms for feeling and human experience. Non-human, neo-human, near-human. The not-the-author. I is an author. Readers are a book’s aphorisms. They see a self in the book.

We need to continually reinvent the wheel. The commonweal of expression. The dictionary of semaphore for flagless hermits. Braille for the inside of the body.

“Expression” has just become a more complex complex.

Here’s the formula (why was it so hard for you, Einstein?):


where i=emotion, concept, the conceptualization of self, language, time, ducks, meaning,
writer, the concept of ‘writer’
e=time, culture, context, language, conceptual framework, quantity of tacos consumed, structure, use of Wellerisms, reader, the concept of ‘reader’

And what about the ‘=’ sign? It is two letters seen from above. We do not know what they are.

The results can be calculated with extreme precision or an extreme lack of precision depending on whether one is on a train, in the 20th century, moving forwards or backwards against the motion of the text (boustrophedon is possible) or how one defines ‘one.’

Words can’t express how much I can’t express.

Poetry is the case (a fact), the existence of states of affairs.

A poem is a thought.

A poem is a proposition with sense.

A poem is a truth-function of elementary propositions.

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must pass over in silence.

Except for this next thing.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Trailer for my new book: Franzlations

Franzlations: the imaginary Kafka translations by Gary Barwin, Craig Conley, and Hugh Thomas takes the parables and aphorisms of Kafka as a starting point, and steps a few places to the left in order to reinvent them. Sometimes this means walking off a cliff and into the empty air. (Don't look down!) Sometimes this means keeping the cage and replacing the bird. For of course, Kafka's writing is a rich source of ideas, play, structure, and wit. It looks like the real world, but in the way the bootstrap that one pulls oneself up with looks like a real bootstrap.