a nether world of two-dimensional heroes and villains. Solid, concrete, sculptural, perspectival, stereoscopic, stereographic, stereo, pop-up, vivid, realistic, rounded, concrete. Q2: Eating a poem sounds like ____?
On top of spaghetti, All covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball, When somebody sneezed.
Winthrop waits, wades winterbournes waist-high, wet with wintry mix, winces when wintersweet, when winter jasmines wilt, whittles wintergreen whistles, wolfs winter melons with winter savoury, wastes when wintertide wanes.
I made the 'A' visual poem for Magyarazni this evening, which will go with a poem about the English and Hungarian lullabies my parents would sing to me when I was little (the Hungarian ones involved dancing peppers and a vengeful monkey pooping in the eyes of a chicken, hence the bird motif. Seriously.) I like the front, but am actually kind of fond of the bleed-through on the back of the poem too. Hmm.
As November rolls in and the days become shorter and cooler, cafés and pubs around town are packing up their lawn furniture. This is precisely why you should grab yourself a copy of derek beaulieu’s seen of the crime post-haste. The slim volume of essays on conceptual and experimental poetics is the perfect book to read on a patio, the short chapters punctuated by people watching and sips of your favourite beverage, or to debate over a pint or two with your best poet pals. Rather than being heavy with citations or hemmed in by monomaniacal scholarly literary analysis, beaulieu’s text allows each chapter to breathe, looking at each individual poet discussed, from Goldsmith to Bisset to Bergvall, on their own terms. The lack of oppressive theme makes seen an excellent book to push against. Since the chapters are not shackled to each other, as a reader, you feel as though you are entering a discussion with beaulieu. By writing in an open, episodic way, beaulieu has created a text that invites us in. Should a certain section leave you skeptical, you need not abandon the book, but continue reading to discover what other subject matter will be covered. This open, episodic construction also make seen an ideal prompt for discussions and debates about the literature that the text covers. The book is a pleasure to read because it infuses contemporary poetry with life. In the second chapter of the book, beaulieu discusses his own obsession with bookstores and building his book collection, framing seen as an exposé of one writer’s individual tastes and inspirations. Though beaulieu discusses literature that is conceptual, impersonal, and non-expressive, this framing of seen seems to emphasize the role of the reader as thinker, critic, and creator. This is a poet’s book about poetry. Again, the episodic chapters convey how individual writers build their creative practice in response to texts they admire and writers who inspire them. seen of the crime is a wonderful example of how exciting and inspiring debating and discussing poetry can be, and is sure to leave you ready to write. In a world of closed scholarly texts debating the minutiae of worn out canonical texts, seen is a lively and varied exploration of contemporary poets and their practice. I’m a friend of derek’s, and reading seenof the crime is uncannily like sitting down for a coffee or pint with him. Every time I see him, he inevitably produces at least four or five chapbooks or books by authors I’ve never heard of, each as exciting as the last, and all readily applicable to my own writing practice. beaulieu not only loves reading and writing, but also sharing the books that energize him. Sit down with seen of the crime over a coffee or pint, and I guarantee beaulieu’s enthusiasm will leave you pumped about reading and writing. The first piece in the book may beg, Please, no more poetry, but the book leaves me thinking, Please, more books about poetry like this one.
Duchamp is famous for taking typical objects from everyday life and changing their meaning by putting them in the gallery space. The first, and by far the most famous, was the urinal, “Fountain.” However, for most women, there is nothing everyday about a urinal. There are a number of instances where a woman might see a urinal… you could be cleaning the bathroom at work, have accidentally walked into the men’s washroom in search of the women’s washroom, have darted in to bypass a long line for the ladies’ room, or have snuck in to engage in some elicit act.* In each case, there is something forbidden about the experience of seeing the urinal. Women only see urinals when they have accidentally stumbled somewhere they are not supposed to go, when we are flouting convention, or when they are working and, I wager, meant to be invisible (this could also include any women who work at urinal factories). This is a significant facet of “Fountain,” since it means that men and women are likely to view the piece in radically different ways. After all, Duchamp could have chosen a toilet, which westerners of both genders use, but he didn’t. While men may find a urinal banal and everyday, for women the object has a certain aura of the unusual and unfamiliar, the elicit and forbidden. For women, the mechanical reproduction of urinals has not made them ubiquitous or bland, because urinals are still displayed in a space where we are forbidden to go. The urinal in the gallery then becomes a commentary on the different relationships of men and women to art. Do women, formerly excluded from the world of high-art, find art more curious, appealing, or thrilling than men do, since men are allowed to participate? Is modern art just a male pissing contest that women are supposed to be impressed by since they themselves piss differently? There are many possible interpretations, but in any case, the gendering of objects is significant when considering the implications of the readymade.
* There are also a few other conditions worth mentioning… Today, there are gender neutral bathrooms available in certain buildings and bars, though these are still relatively rare, and I’m not sure how many have urinals or not. To this list we might also add those who are passing as men and prefer to use the men’s washroom, though this may not be an appropriate assessment since these individuals may not wish to identify as women. Finally there are doohickeys designed to let women pee standing up, but as far as I can tell, these aren’t terribly popular.