Wednesday, August 10, 2011

DANDELION 37.1: The Mapping Issue, guest-eds. Oana Avasilichioaei + Kathleen Brown


March 29, Alma, NB, 8 a.m.

First seasonal appearance of lobster fishermen. Coats same colour
as in fall: blue plaid, faded; red and black plaid. Slight increase in
stoop of older fisherman's back/posture. Seen walking from lobster
shed (paint peeling) to truck (turquoise, '96 Ford) to house (paint
also peeling), pace quicker in rain.

10 degrees C. Cloudy.

Last year's sunflower seed-heads, brown and wet, hang from bent
sinews of stalks. Stems still upright at four feet. Occasional fox
sparrows, house sparrows alight.

Five of six feral cats survived winter. (Elena. E. Johnson)
Over the past number of years, the journal formerly known as Dandelion magazine morphed into dANDelion, and now, seemingly over to DANDELION, where it now produces meaty, magnificent theme issues, the most recent of which is “The Mapping Issue,” guest edited by Montreal writer and translator, Oana Avasilichioaei and the journal's managing editor, Kathleen Brown. Just how far can the definition of “mapping” be stretched in the space of a literary/visual arts journal? As they say in their introduction:
The geography keeps shifting into bloom and decay. Our border disrupts this dialogue. Dialogue will dissolve our borders. Or enflame them. Will these trajectories double back, mislead us? We leave unnoticed through a back gate to mark a country elsewhere. We pass the perennials and smell softly. What is our intention in this space? Our margin is a pinprick. A suite of words we apply to remembering our time in the map itself. One of us balances. One of us records. We enter the idea sideways, disjunctive: produce architectures, perform language, inscribe intervals. The city growls towards a future because it has no direction. The city flaunts the pasts' absurdities in the overpass. Frequencies jam. Then our distoritions wander. How do we chart this aliveness? Or marginal weathers, of limited instruction, insert passage here.

The loop of a map opens closings, a map unravels [maroons]. A map for us to traverse, invent, gnaw at, search for over and over again.
Given that the journal is associated with grad students in the Department of English at the University of Calgary, it seems safe to presume that this association between DANDELION and Oana Avasilichioaei came from her tenure as writer-in-residence at the University during the 2010-11 academic year, making it one of the more impressive tangible extensions I've seen in a while of a writer engaging with and giving back to their new communities. Given that geography and mapping are threads that already exist through Avasilichioaei's own work, such as her second trade collection, feria: a poempark (Toronto ON: Wolsak & Wynn, 2008), which explored public parks in her hometown of Vancouver, as well as moving from Vancouver to Montreal to (albiet temporarily) Calgary, the idea of an issue dedicated to mapping feels very natural. The issue includes text, sound and visuals from such as Lisa Robertson, Katie Fedosenko and Ray Hsu, Emilio Said, Stephanie Strickland, Betsy Warland, Phil Hall, Reg Johanson, Sarah Cullen, Erín Moure, derek beaulieu, Jordan Abel, Lance Blomgren, Caroline Bergvall, Donato Mancini, a. rawlings, Nikki Reimer and others.

Vancouver's signature soundscape. In her 610 square foot nest Oscar perched on the axis of it. Sounds synonymous with home, belonging, womb into the world. Hearing the first sense to develop; last to leave as we die. Sounds. Bearings. How they wrap themselves around us, tide in & out, stroke our forehead in our sleep. Echolocation: the city sending out it's sounds to know where it is who it is amonng at any given moment. The hear of here. Sky a rink of wheeling seagulls' calls freight train whistle-caress of night-valley's contours two-note-descending foghorn in our bones old Hydro Building's whistles twelve o'clock lunch edgy whine of heroin-like cranes loading ships over-sized-bee-buzz of seaplanes into flight evening cruise ships' horn a hum of satisfaction eagle's staccato notes cascading overhead muffled firing of Stanley Park's “nine o'clock gun” cawing of 16,000 crows in dawn & twilight flight path overhead: a city; a landscape; a person made specific by these refrains. Oscar – a person of between – made sound. (Betsy Warland)
This is perhaps one of the most ambitious projects the journal has undertaken since the special issue on Roy Kiyooka (although I haven't seen a couple of the issues preceeding this one), with two hundred pages including full-colour images and an accompanying dvd. The issue also includes an extension of Lisa Robertson'sOffice for Soft Architecture” project, published in book form as Occasional Works and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture (Astoria OR: Clear Cut Press, 2003; Toronto ON: Coach House Books, 2006), included here as “Reports to the Office for Soft Architecture: Wilderness in Alberta and Alberta's Protected Areas: the plus 15's” by Emily Chin, Stephanie Lis Davis, Tyler Hayden, Claire Lacey and Indra Singh. The issue as a whole seems to conceive itself as a furthering of innumerable projects, extending the map of what has come before so much further, and even into some points previously unknown or unexplored. Other highlights of the issue include Jordan Abel's powerful “The Totem Pole Transported to Toronto,” Sarah Cullen's “The City As Written By The City,” Erín Moure's “from the map of O Cadoiro (2003-2005) made in Lisbon and Montréal,” Alex Leslie's “The Land App” and “The And Registry,” and Kristian Carlsson's “Ahead of Directions,” where he writes:
Without language, the mapping becomes
invincible on the map. Even a treasure map
needs it X.

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