Saturday, March 24, 2012

Franzlations reviewed!

Jonathan Ball wrote a nice little review of Franzlations for the Winnipeg Free Press.

Comic beauty!

Bitter irony!

Red party balloons!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Books, Bells, Rilke translations

BELLS (a translation from Rilke)

ringing bells in my mind’s eye
let night bring me something
I’ll return it

I make folds in the world
folding then unfolding
creasing the years

what do I learn?
the dark is dark
I like snowflakes
I like snowflakes
better than song

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Flag


clarinets twister a longer way there
bed the gravestones

here’s the ridge at last
I’m earth and book inside

teeth gravel pleasure
birds give away that someone’s not roaring
there’s new hems here
a monkey goes past

no anger but in the beautiful
the horizon in the obscure

the cats call sound a grieving
the groin is never uncertainty

the irony is that Inukshuks have hotels    
it struggles but blue snow obscures

it points: the old are up to their biohazard in teeth
others gnawing and exposed

and alone night planets
the board pulled over each mind stuck

insert the other eye here, snowmelt
stars and desperate mice, the calling valleys

pointing at something with a shape
the whole of the hovering ground

everything’s, yes, an invention
the night the army shrouds

in the yard where we pulled up stakes
a half-eaten monopoly feathers

far way, another flap, a rain chant beyond the mall
the tents autumn an in-between

the starved summer a longer knot
the darkness flowers the nation

inevitably, the receding is a quotation
and the quotation shops

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Speech Double

Inverting the Deer (video)

A video setting of my poem, "Inverting the Deer," from my book, The Porcupinity of the Stars (Coach House, 2010)

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Children's Song

Apophenia/Anglophenia: Seeing English in Everything, even Swedish


debt is the mylar of marvels
I kaftan
the Kevlar father barren like his son the spindle 
here is my kaftan
here I am stacked 
here I hijack the market of marvels
the mylar of marvels
I kaftan
I vie with the springtime 
O jagged medication 
the lean facthood of disease

I vie with springtime
heave tears 
O debt diamond 
net of jaguar bones 
I eat marvels
Jupiter hangs its tongue
grim in father’s firmament 
O nervous system luring all under the horn

debt mylars and marvels
the feds, the locks, the grout
O hell 
debt mylars or marvels some Kevlar uprising father 
then a marvel’s drought engine swells
ganglia aggravating crops 
father O stone sonar
crystal O brother
there is an understanding 

springtime hijacks 
I tunnel to you jagged day 
nervous system brighter with bones
fastness staggering in 
then pumping, pulsing, aggravating
O rootsier marvels 
lymph nodes
debt is the mylar of marvels
debt is the wind 
now comes the tar bones.
now the tar bones
now swallow the bones without caring 
all scar jagged 
dig O jagged, dig 
now Kevlar jagged 
O marvel father 
O lungs dig back 
later the vaccine is the marvellous 
cell plasma
a backrub forester yes 
debt is the mylar of marvels and 
a student of marvels’ organism


A homolinguistic Anglophenic translation of Aase Berg

A goofy, cartoony, whale-like, sandwichy thing, a bright red slice of processed cheese on a quotation bun.

Speech for Márton Koppány

I created this image for the great Hungarian visual poet Márton Koppány. His deceptively simple images, comprised of the small visual symbols of our modern life -- yes, ellipses, quotation marks, and speech balloons, but also those plain things such as a chair, a fish, some sunglasses. But he doesn't represent the chair, fish, or sunglasses, but rather simple photographs of these things. It's our gif-world, our jpgision, our psdopticon. And these images -- from the language of words or the language of visuality -- play together on a flat field comprised of flat simple colours. They live in that happy purgatory of the semantic present, living out the relationships of unworried signs in an semiotic utopian playground without hierarchies. Yes, they interact. Speech balloons and ellipses point to notions of speech and ellipticality. Fish seem to swim in the visual field. Commas point to the messy complex semantic world of language which they have opted out of, or have at least, for now, joined this visual commune. 

I feel all Heisenbergian when I look at his images. I feel delight or bemusement or sometimes unsettled, but I get the sense that the images are changed by my viewing. In some way, they exist out-of-time, beyond 'reading.' When I was a small child, I'd look at the world of images and text and wonder what they might mean. Because I didn't know what they meant, they meant everything. Sometimes, I was disappointed when I found out what they meant. Meaning 'something' is smaller than meaning 'everything' or 'anything.' It's like discovering that the endless forest path at the end of your street isn't endless but actually loops around and ends up at the greengrocer's, the library, or emerges behind Mrs. Black's house. 

The image above fills me with happiness. A goofy, cartoony, whale-like, sandwichy thing, a bright red slice of processed cheese on a quotation bun in the unmitigated blue of water, sky, or childlike semiosis.

Thanks, Márton, for all your work.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Review of "Fershtupt on Dog Watch!"

Katherine Barrett in the Review Review reviews my story Fershtupt on Dog Watch (excerpted from my novel-in-progress) and published in Joyland. She also writes nice things about Joyland itself and other stories there. So great to see reviews of periodicals and short stories.

MONTH: a poemic (poetic comic strip)

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Digitograms and Pictograms from the Interior of the Internet

Digitogram based on Grouse pictogram from China

On her blog (which features "ERRATIC POSTS BY METIS/MIXED BLOOD WRITER, SOMETIME ACTIVIST, MOTHER,") Joanne Arnott posted a verb-visual discussion of one of Fred Wah's Pictograms from the Interior of B.C., the very fantastic, "Blue Grouse Wakens Stars for Us." A lovely circumloccumulation of thoughts and images related to Fred's original. The pictograms are poems (intriguing verbo-visual image-machines) which I'm always glad to be reminded of. And they're really great forms for remembering how texts and points-of-view are located in specific world-views, image-sets, physical and cultural realities.

So: I made this little Pictogram-inspired (or more like, local underpass graffiti-inspired) poem for her this morning, thinking about the blue grouse, and the chickens.

In what cultural matrix am I located in? By what am I triangulated? (polyhedrated?) What are the idioms of thought? How do we represent it? How does language-ambiguity represent or interpret the ambiguity of visual suggestion?

I previously discussed Fred Wah's Pictograms from the Interior of B.C. here.


for Joanne Arnott

the chicken horizon
past sight

night and scattered stars

shopping mall
gravel pit

the mind feathers

time so far away
it never arrives

Friday, March 02, 2012

The Louche Mirror of Kittens and the Translation of the Present

William Keckler maintains a remarkable blog entitled Joe Brainard's Pyjamas. It's the kind of place where logical kittens leap endlessly into the verbal mirror of themselves.

And speaking of being a verbal mirror of one's self, yesterday he wrote a lovely post about this blog. Thanks, William. And no frames of reference were harmed in the naming of (t)his blog, though there is an increased number of washed backs.

Elsewhere on his blog, Keckler creates a 'louche' translation of a poem of Rene Char. He discusses the notion of anachronistic translation. To quote:
Anachronistic translation can be translating a poem into a future idiom, which did not exist in the poem's lifetime, or it can the reverse of that, translation of modernity or postmodernity into archaic idioms.
And then he presents a translation of the Char poem into 'online vernacular.' (Which is why the brilliant cartoon is posted above.) I've been working on a series of homophonic Rilke translations and, thinking about Keckler's translation, I thought that I'd try that with the Char poem. Thing is, while I understand little German, I do understand a fair bit of French (though I'd be unable to say, "Please, firefighter, help me, I am on fire. I would suggest that water sprayed at me at high pressure might be effective in extinguishing the conflagration that is, currently, me.) This made the notion of 'homophonic' translation interesting. I could choose to translate the meaning of the words or just their sound. I could choose to deliberately misunderstand the meaning or  allow some of my understanding to affect how I heard a word. The original French poem, a quite literal translation, along with Keckler's 'louche' translation is here.

Commingling with the Present

Writing, you depress me 
you are really slow 
and as with life 
out of order 
and then there’s the inevitable 
procession of your sources

I hate you
I hate how you transmit
in equal parts 
the rebellion of the marvelous 
the malfeasance of the affective

you are really slow 
and as with life, inexpressive
I mean the kind of life that doesn’t appear in a primer

you say 
in the end
the only way to account for everything
is to accept it as one
refuse to separate each day from other days
each from others

Writing you say
don’t obtain, what--
thoughts, a penis, punishment?
you only give me these fragments. 
maybe its charming, maybe charnel, maybe channeled
from the boats of these belles 

I have hours or owls of you saying:

‘all isn’t agony’
or surmising when the big end will come
‘remember how long death is
how long your labour will be’

and ‘recognize something in the hidden 
sister you have found in nukes
in the handkerchief, 
in the inclination to laugh like 
you were old on the way up the roller-coaster ride’

Writing, I offer you my submission
I am armless
I have no weapons, no limbs
you created this belief in the small commingling of the moment
I modify you so that I disappear without regret
though I agree with your suave rigor

section by section
we will survive the liquidation of the pursuing world
without interruption
eagles, agreements, or equality

I have tried the quick fish
of light or of love 
but, Writing, there is nothing except 
deceleration in our union

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Swim; Disguise; Imaginary: Recent work

one boy wears
the face of another
the other wears
the first boy’s face
like a swim

two dogs run a race
the dogs imaginary
the race real

or the inverse:
no-one outside the dog

two men fight with swords

a third
wearing a mask
watches over a hedge

along the hedge-bottom
a hawk chases a rat

who could have predicted
such disguise?