Monday, November 17, 2008

Open Text: Canadian Poetry in the 21st Century, ed. Roger Farr

Do You Fall in Love at the Drop of Happy

Do you fall in love at the drop of happy
Are you brink
Did you clean
Do you miss yourself or are you dripping
You are taken for
Did you bug
Am I held
Do you internet café
Did you fall in love with a hick while napping
You were dirty for
Do you last
Are we heading
Do you lull in happy at the thrust of dropping
Did it last you
You miss bugs
Do you lullaby the habit of propping
Are your friends
Did you pulp
Did you mean this drop to be unhappy
Yeah you meant it (Jon Paul Fiorentino)

One of the first publications in the new CUE Books series (Capilano University Editions, out of The Capilano Review) is the anthology Open Text: Canadian Poetry in the 21st Century, edited by Roger Farr. Meant to be the first third in a larger project, the first two feature poetry, and the third, to feature poetic statements by writers featured in the first two volumes, all of whom have appeared as part of the ongoing Open Text Reading Series hosted by the Creative Writing Program at Capilano University (nee Capilano College) in Vancouver. As editor Farr writes in his introduction:

Editing an anthology of contemporary avant-garde poetry is an inherently risky undertaking as the criteria one invokes in collecting the work are often destabilized by the works themselves. This is especially true when such writing is yoked together under the sign of an apparently shared national identity. I have always thought there should be a fallacy named after the practice of identifying a body of writing with the state-formation that governs its authors. Echoing Charles Bernstein’s observations about “poetic voice,” I would argue that when it comes to poetry and poetics, any alleged quality of “Canadian-ness” is merely a possibility, or an affect—not an essence. So while Open Text is indeed a collection of poetry by Canadian citizens, it is not a collection of “Canadian Poetry,” and makes no attempt to stake a claim for a “New Canon” or even a “New Poetics” on that territory.
A list of the contributors to this volume, working an interesting range of geography and style, include Annharte, Oana Avasilichioaei, George Bowering, Rob Budde, Louis Cabri, Peter Culley, Jeff Derksen, Jon Paul Fiorentino, Maxine Gadd, Claire Huot & Robert Majzels, Larissa Lai, Dorothy Trujillo Lusk, Donato Mancini, Jamie Reid, Darren Wershler, Lissa Wolsak and Rita Wong. There have been a number of interesting publishing enterprises to start up lately, and this certainly isn’t the first to come out of a journal (Goose Lane Editions in Fredericton, for example, the longest running independent publishing house in the country (according to their own claim) came out of Fiddlehead Poetry Books and The Fiddlehead), with recent forays into publishing for West Coast Line bringing LineBooks (and finally, an available backlist for Michael Barnholden’s Tsunami Editions) and Snare Books out of Montreal’s Matrix magazine. And considering all the years that parts of the west coast avant-garde felt a closed group, now there’s no way to complain of a lack of opportunity. With all these enterprises popping up across the country, could they do anything but enrich?
Rangutang Rage Writer

She makes it all up. She who knows me. She splits and makes up the stories in my absence. She saw me hide all night in a library. Saw the jealous husband chase me. She will look at me as I lug books to bed. I hide behind the text I read. Her eyes reflect me sawed in half. Says a magician took the other part. What is left is for a medicine woman to define. Our mothers are inside us anyway and might help us out even if they left us alone quite often. For me. For drinks. For laughs. Some of the mammas are popular aunties we visit for bannock and tea. They will become Old Ones. Keep us company. Respect our wounds. Sure got remedies. Pretty preachy words. They call each other a warrior but I don’t know because I am only a sole survivor when nobody was around to defend me.

She watches me croon to the dance drum. Her focus on how I beat on Rangutan chest. Beat memories uncomfortable down inside the breasts. I keep forgetting so I compact it all. She is not that proud so she bears my wounds. She reaches for the trauma but manages to moan how the stab didn’t quite do her in. She’s so lucky for that gift. She is a buddy to my body. She was the one that wore the black eye. She coughed for me at for work when I almost passed out from broken rib. She will convince me that I am angry for nothing. She accepted the abuse for me.

I got nothing to talk about. She does keep it all straight. She does not always write it down like a police investigation. I must have to be ready for her break the awful news to me. Yet, many people attribute her anger to me and confuse me to hell. (Annharte)

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