Experiment-O

The Small Machine Talks – Episode 61 Experiment-O Readers– Part III

Welcome to the Small Machine Talks. I’m Amanda Earl and this is Episode 61 and our third and final for now episode featuring contributors to Experiment-O.

For this last episode on Experiment-O, I thought I would also talk a bit about some of the other work featured in the magazine by highlighting the work of one contributor per issue.

Issue 1 featured the poetry and collages of Camille Martin, who I subsequently interviewed for the AngelHousePress essay series in 2012. I met Camille at her Tree Reading Series reading in 2008 and enjoyed her poetry. I don’t remember how I found out abut her collage making. http://angelhousepress.com/essays/An%20interview%20with%20Camille%20Martin.pdf

5 of  Camille’s collages were published in the issue, along with her poetry. Camille’s collage-making comes in part from synaesthesia, her music background and her work with media such as photographs. One of the most striking collages in issue 1 for me was that of an illustration of a little girl placed on top of a moonscape across from a giant letter R, both the R and the girl are clothed in red/orange. in the essay Camille wrote, “I don’t usually follow rules or constraints when I’m making collages, though I do

sometimes limit the colour palette to give the whole more inner coherence. I try

various juxtapositions until I can feel a spark of attraction among the images, and

play with different uses of space to give that attraction free reign to show me

what it wants to say. It does often feel as though I’m a conduit who facilitates the

dramas that reveal themselves in the collages.”

Local photographer Caroline Gomersoll’s striking photos of open sky and other distorted scenes through broken glass excited me as soon as I saw them, and I asked for them for the second issue. There’s an otherworldly quality to them, one in particular shows glass dividing a murky alien-green background. There are stories in those photographs.

Issue 3 features a story by John Lavery entitled “Small Wonder.” He read the work or a version of it at Tree many years ago and then it was published in his second short story collection, “You, Kwaznievski, You Piss Me Off (ECW Press, 2004). I asked him if I could have it for Experiment-O and he agreed. I adored John and was a huge fan of his writing and of him. He played with language in a way that I’ve never experienced before, inventing hilarious onomatopoeic words, and indulging in extreme punnery. his range of knowledge was exceptional. He was skilled at everything he did, including music, having put out a CD entitled Dignity before he died in 2011. He kindly let me interview him for Ottawater.com in 2010 for the 2011 issue and I also wrote an essay in the same issue about his linguistic pyrotechnics. I still miss him and I am very grateful that his work is part of Experiment-O.

For Issue 4, I invited Ottawa poet Jamie Bradley to curate the issue. He included the minimalist visual poetry of Hungarian artist Márton Kopánny. I love the restraint showed in this work and how much it communicates. Márton first sent me work for NationalPoetryMonth.ca in 2010 and I’ve had the pleasure of publishing his work several times.

Issue 5’s highlight is the work of Gatineau artist michèle provost, which combines the craft of embroidery with text. I must have met michèle many years ago now. it was clear to me that we were kindreds and her work excited me because of her wild imagination, sense of humour and whimsy, and her energy. When we meet to have tea we can talk for hours. I consider a lot of the work that she has done as visual poetry, and I enjoy the way it dances the line between art and visual poetry.

Issue 5 also features the work of bill dimichele, American writer and artist who died last year. We must have swam in the same circles. He kindly invited me to submit work to his wonderful vispo blog, Tip of the Knife with its slogan, “Draw blood or go home.” He played in many different forms, was a delight to engage with. For this issue he gave me some dreamy experimental prose.

Carlyle Baker sent me work for issue 6, which I was very glad to publish. For these pieces he worked with rubbings, asemics, stencil, type and drawing implements to create free jazz, mixed code and other wondrous and imaginative visual poetry. I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting the Peterborough, Ontario artist until recently at an exhibit of visual poetry. He goes by many variations of Carlyle Baker and continues to make intriguing work.

For issue 7, I received an excerpt from a collaborative work by a. rawlings and Sachiko Murikami, two poets whose work I have admired for many years. I was pleased to publish their ecopoetic and sensual work.

I have long been intrigued with the work of Japanese illustrator, poet, photographer and collage artist hiromi suzuki. in 2019, AngelHousePress published her accomplished and beautiful chapbook, Andante. in issue 8 hiromi plays with shadows and light, distance and white space.

Sacha Archer was someone who I didn’t meet in person until a recent visual poetry exhibit in Toronto, but we’d been swimming in the same circles for years. I admire what he does with his press, Simulacrum Press and his own playful experiments with language, sound and motion. He is another kindred whimsical friend. For issue 9, he sent me an experimental text that uses the disruption of auto-correct as an engine. I like this man’s mind.

I read about Alberta artist Candace Makowichuk’s series of photographs of Edmonton cemeteries, many of which were printed in blue cenotype. The work is a study in mourning of death and the celebration of life. Here is an example where I had no connection to the artist and simply sent her an e-mail asking if I could publish her work in issue 10. I do this fairly often and for the most part, I receive affirmative responses. Artists are very generous with their work.

I think I saw some of German artist Ines Seidel’s powerful book alterations on FaceBook. I was so relieved when she agreed to let me have some for Experiment-O’s 11th issue. from her site: “books, news, objects, identities. all are in the process of transforming. what you see is just an intermediate state. word becomes matter. a linear sentence turns into tangible three dimensional form. a story disintegrates, spawns and transcends itself. stories are my material, transforming them is my task.”

Rasiqra Revulva is someone I first encountered only a few years ago. Was the first time at VERSeFest, Ottawa’s annual poetry festival or was it before? She does a lot of really out of the box creative things. For VERSeFest she read poetry using loops and sound effects to evoke an undersea atmosphere. Her reverse ekphrastics, visual poems and illustrations in issue 12 are yet another example of boundless creativity and imagination. I am a great admirer.

Issue 13 will be published in November/December. I’m not going to reveal all the contributors but I’ll give you just one name. I saw FFLEPP’s work in the latest issue of psw’s ToCall magazine, which is published in Germany using a mimeograph machine. I was thrilled by a piece that depicted notes tumbling to the bottom and sought more work by the artist, who has kindly agreed to let me publish some in the next issue.

Obviously I haven’t talked about the work of everyone in all 12 issues. I just wanted to give you the flavour of the magazine. Please visit Experiment-O.com for the full meal.

I say that Experiment-O celebrates the art of risk. I believe that everyone who contributes is taking a risk in some way: whether their work doesn’t fit into a mainstream genre, or they are writing about something personal that leaves them vulnerable, whether they are attempting to subvert a literary or artistic canon, or just playing for the sake of it. I appreciate every person who is willing to send their work for consideration to Experiment-O, and every contributor whose work is published. Sharing such work isn’t easy. I appreciate those of you who read the publication. I hope it inspires more play, more risk and more subversion of convention.

Our readers in this episode are Volodymyr Bilyk, Joel Chace, Marco Giovanele, Pearl Pirie, James Sanders, and Steve Venright

Volodymyr Bilyk is a poet from Ukraine who writes in English. So he’s basically from another dimension or Parts Unknown.

Long story short: he follows Ezra Pound’s ”Make It New” and considers Pink Fairies song ”Do It” to be quite adequate description of his artistic intentions.

The second edition of his poetry collection ”Roadrage” is available at Zimzalla (www.zimzalla.co.uk/049-volodymyr-bilyk-roadrage/)

Volodymyr was in issue 7 of Experiment-O.

RECORDING 1: VOLODYMR BILYK

The source text is the following:

pus sea seal eel elk! 

glumly daisy flavor – shadow fragile

frown

pffft pffft XY? 4:16

La La La La Lo

ayu yu Tsuu A Xie Xie

(“paa”, “fuku”, “chiki”) 

No No No Ha! Ha! Ha! 

Blaze beep chug – tart rictus

– Ever-Roving Eye

jamais vu elk yowl 

Iko Iko – Nzznzzzznnznznnn

Fifi o – Uum Ni-Ni- Budub

PPPPPP – XXOO Go Go Go Go Go

Gash, Gloria: 

Ear Spin; Smile

Oww rrrrrrsssssstttttt O

***
It is not really a poem, rather a piece that was accumulated to showcase different dataset sampling combinations. some parts are missing because there were not enough samples available.  it is made out of tiny slices of sounds mixed together by an algorithm. sounds complicated but the hardest thing was to wait until the model is trained (2 hours per iteration times 5 over a week. 

Joel Chace has published work in print and electronic magazines such as, The Tip of the Knife, Counterexample Poetics, Eratio, Otoliths, Infinity’s Kitchen, and Jacket.  Most recent collections include Sharpsburg, from Cy Gist Press, Blake’s Tree, from Blue & Yellow Dog Press, Whole Cloth, from Avantacular Press, Red Power, from Quarter After Press, Kansoz, from Knives, Forks, and Spoons Press, Web Too, from Tonerworks, War, and After, from BlazeVOX [books], Scorpions, from Unlikely Books, Humors, from Paloma Press, and Threnodies, from Moria Books. Joel was in issue 9 of Experiment-O.

RECORDING 2: Joel Chace

matter

s t o n e s

when the letters are stones

dragged placed abandoned

s n o w

when the letters are snow

packed curved left

y e l l o w c h a l k

when the letters are yellow chalk

up on the blackboard

g r e e n g r a s s

when the letters are green grass

woven placed in shade

b a t

when it brushes arm-hair

in the cave’s deepest black

g a s h

when the glass-slivers

bubble up from the trench of blood

no matter

is this right then    we put

all our ducks in a row    all

our ducks of the under-word    all made

of quarks    which are or are

not matter but certainly are not

meaning    though the ducks

mean    as we line

the ducks up they make

a surface    a surface of

water    surface and water that

are not do not matter but

do mean    the matter then

cannot mean    the meaning is

nothing but    we keep

on lining up the ducks    beneath

the surface of water

is depth the more ducks the more

depth    and dark    and

murk    all of which is no

matter    no matter    not matter    but is

dark murk and deep    story

layered upon story    stories without

matter but with meaning    how

is it possible to live like

this    to make stories that

mean    but are no matter

Marco Giovenale (alias differx) lives in Rome, where he works as an editor and translator, also teaching History of Italian poetry and experimental writing in a poetry center he contributed to establish. He’s founder and editor of gammm.org (on line since 2006) and asemicnet.blogspot.com (since 2011). Linear texts in English in the books “A gunless tea” (Dusie, 2007), “CDK” (Tir-Aux-Pigeons, 2009), “anachromisms” (Ahsahta Press, 2014), “white while” (Gauss PDF, 2014: http://www.gauss-pdf.com/post/98317758615/gpdf131-marco-giovenale-white-while). He’s also an asemic writer. His (main) site is https://slowforward.net. Marco was in issue 4.

RECORDING 3: Marco Giovenale

Three fragments from $TRING$

 $ 01

Here it was
I wanted it to be well understood
The old traveller said
To the young waitress
If only I was twenty
Was seventy
Was carrying in a heap of forks
Forks are good to travellers
Typed am
Mad @ you
Since it’s in one’s dna to decide not to show that much of one’s anger
The garden was so bright
Silence I presume did not drip down from the sun
It’s cold as it rains
She wears a depressing shadow
Under her red led cloak
Loops of time revolve
They invented it yesterday
She doesn’t find the clue

$ 03

My fingers I took a look at them
While typing
Once
Well I felt a gap in time
So they didn’t seem to me like actually belonging
To me
There’s something weird or a pure delay
All around
I thought it was the shiny screen
One must always find a cause

$ 04

Must unravel it
It’s all on my side
Begging something
Always fix the issues
That occur
The boomerang question time
The hits of the day
Stay tuned pray
The joy
Will last forever

Pearl Pirie’s fourth collection, footlights, comes in the fall 2020 from Radiant Press. Her newest chapbook is Not Quite Dawn(Éditions des petits nuages, March, 2020). Her epistle haibun chapbook, Water loves its bridges: Letters to the dead, is due out in Dec 2020 from The Alfred Gustav Press by subscription. www.pearlpirie.com

Pearl was in issue 1 of Experiment-O

RECORDING 4: PEARL PIRIE

calculating

we measure life by millimetres 

or by feelings of fullness, or is that dullness, 

or satisfaction 

a stillness as contentment 

or a shutdown 

overloaded by information or calories or energy depletion

walking the forest trail, turning onto Sara’s trail

i had nunca vu

years wiped away

no sense of north or known

I bet if the trees were text

I’d find them and their leaf galls illegible

I’ve been stranded before

struck illiterate for hours, orphaned by memory.

so, senses can get overwhelmed

not only by crowds, lights, ambient 80dB

but by fatigue 

from sustained concentration

by a focus I thought I could never regain

but did

yesterday’s sleep 

didn’t restock me

inside my braincase are early COVID aisles of neurons

like East German grocers 

the demand to think comes at no steady rate

so you can predict when to replace. 

that complicates. spurts the supply chain 

of energies.

I’m bottlenecked

with a surfeit of words then none.

but it’s not my job alone

the red squirrel has many words for me.

he bounces his back legs

then vibrates to his front, goes out on a literal

limb, uses his weight to cantilever a shake

while jays pretend to be innocuous, indifferent.

5 of them around me toss leaves

looking for food but i heard them call others.

I’m the talk of the not-town.

the woodpecker comes to see.  

the chipmunk scolds too,

their words have regrounded me.

them and the ant who insists on my leg

as a log, as a bridge.

James Sanders is a member of the Atlanta Poets Group, a writing and performing collective (http://atlantapoetsgroup.blogspot.com/). He was included in the 2016 BAX: Best American Experimental Writing anthology. His most recent book, Self-Portrait in Plants, was published in 2015. The University of New Orleans Press also recently published the group’s An Atlanta Poets Group Anthology: The Lattice Inside. James is reading from a visual poem that appeared in Experiment-O issue 11.

RECORDING 5: JAMES SANDERS

Steve Venright is a visual artist and poet whose publications include Straunge Wunder (Tortoiseshell & Black), Spiral Agitator (Coach House Books, 2000), Floors of Enduring Beauty (Mansfield Press, 2007), and The Least You Can Do Is Be Magnificent: Selected & New Writings (Feed Dog imprint of Anvil Press, 2017). Through his Torpor Vigil Records label, he has released several albums by singer-composer Samuel Andreyev and sleeptalker Dion McGregor.

http://www.venright.com

Twitter: @stevevenright

Instagram: steve_venright

Torpor Vigil Records

http://www.torporvigil.com

Twitter: @torporvigil

Instagram: torporvigilart

Steve was in our first issue.

RECORDING 6: STEVE VENRIGHT

An excerpt from “Manta Ray Jack and the Crew of the Spooner” from The Least You Can Do Is Be Magnificent: Selected and New Writings (A Feed Dog Book from Anvil Press, 2017)

Just then the keeper of the tower—a Mr. Albert Ross—flew in, soaked from the fetid weather and looking much like a tattered bird with wetted feather.

            He was back from the abode of his cousin Drew who was billeting a dozen crew from a ship which had (soon after it was boarded) sunk and with whom our lighthouse codger, as kitehouse lodger, was forced to share a sordid bunk—in company with a creaky old loser they’d found waving a gun around at Crappers’ Tavern shortly after their leaky old cruiser had run aground at Trappers’ Cavern.

            It was to that same tavern that Mr. Ross had repaired, after one last kite nap, for one last nightcap before heading home to his luminous spire. But a single nightcap is such a scrawny bore, and before long the “one” had become a brawny score. The Crappers’ bartender[barmaid {though I wouldn’t like the repetition, as it appears later in the paragraph}]—a spuminous liar but a frisky wench—poured out her hearts to him (she claimed to have been born with a pair) along with glass after glass of whisky (French). Inspired by the Abyssinian barmaid’s ruminating lies (e.g., having once made porn with a bear) as well as the luminating ryes (which she mixed with salt water and called “sailor tea”), he took a perky quill and some sort of quirky pill then made like Samuel Taylor C— a man whose poetic notions, induced by noetic potions, were realized by scribbling while dreaming.

            But barely had his scribbling and dreaming begun when it was interrupted by the untimely intrusion of a wandering Porlock wimp whose sudden and startling appearance—he was dressed rather in the style of a warlock pimp—set the old lighthouse keeper to dribbling and screaming.

            This boisterous oozing drew the attention of two daring shrinks who’d been sharing drinks and now invited him to join their oysterous boozing. (While the duo was acclaimed for treating individuals who experienced shame while fornicating, they had also attained a degree of fame while shucking.) By the time our Mr. Ross, eyes glazed as a dead hawk’s, took his leave of the two head[-]docs, the battered shells of clamorous oysters lay all about him like the shattered bells of amorous cloisters.

            Now back atop his familiar perch, with a belly full of oysterous regret, he burst through the lighthouse door like a roisterous egret.

Thanks to all the readers from this episode and from the previous two Experiment-O episodes. Thanks to Charles for processing and Jennifer Pederson for the intro and outro, and thanks to you for listening and sharing the podcast. Stay tuned for season 5 which begins in July!

The Small Machine Talks – Episode 60: Experiment-O Readers & Friends – Part II

Welcome to the Small Machine Talks. I’m Amanda Earl and this is episode 60, the second part of our segment featuring contributors to Experiment-O. Since I talked about the magazine in the previous episode, I won’t repeat too much, except to say that it is an online pdf magazine that celebrates the art of risk through poetry, prose, visual art, visual poetry and uncategorizable work or hybrids.

Every year I look out for possible contributors by reading publications and paying attention to the work that comes through my social media feeds. I also receive the occasional unsolicited submission for consideration.

NationalPoetryMonth.ca is also a good source for potential contributors. In June I invite 10-12 people to send work for the magazine, which comes out in November every year.

In September I do the initial layout in In Design. I’m terrible at In Design, so I’m just basically putting everything in: the pieces, captions if necessary, the bios. Then sometime after that Charles, who is a wonderful designer and seems to know how to handle In Design’s eccentricities, makes everything beautiful. Layout is tricky when you combine art and visual poetry with poetry and prose.

We always send each contributor a pdf proof to ensure we have the work and their bios and their names exactly right. I make awful spelling errors with names. It’s embarrassing but seems to be worsening as I age. I cut and paste when I can, but it isn’t always possible.

We often have over 100 pages of content. I really appreciate all of those who’ve entrusted us with their work.

I hope you visit the site to check out our 12 issues so far. If you’re interested in sending work for consideration, please feel free to give me an e-mail query at amanda@experiment-o.com.

This time we have 6 readers: Anita Dolman, Sanita Fejzić, Jennifer LoveGrove, Sandra Ridley, Chris Turnbull and Ewan Whyte . I hope you enjoy their poems. And if you do, seek out their work and buy it or get it from the library, once libraries are back. [A reminder that the spacing of the poems here may not reflect the spacing of the actual poem; WordPress does weird things with formatting.]

Our first reader is Anita Dolman

Poet, editor and writer Anita Dolman is the author of Lost Enough: A collection of short stories (2017), co-editor of Motherhood in Precarious Times (2018), and author of two poetry chapbooks. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Imaginary Safe House, Bywords.ca, Arc Poetry Magazine, On Spec, Triangulation and Grain. She is an advocate for bi/pan+ rights and mental health. Anita was in issue 11. Anita will be reading “Let me tell you something, sweetheart, Or, Dear capitalist”, which was originally published on Collective Unrest, November 20, 2019, San Diego, California, USA.

RECORDING 1: ANITA DOLMAN

the next reader is Sanita Fejzić is a Bosnian-Canadian poet, novelist and playwright. Her CBC-shortlisted poem “(M)other,” has just been published as a children’s story by the same title as well as as a translation, Mère(s) et monde. Fejzić has had her poetry and short fiction published in literary magazines and journals across Canada. Her first novella, Psychomachia, Latin for “Battle of the Soul,” appeared as an excerpt in Experiment-O. Fejzić is presently completing her PhD in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University. To catch up on her work, check out her website: www.sanitafejzic.com. Sanita was in issue 10.

RECORDING 2: SANITA FEJZIĆ

It’s the end of the world

& we can’t even gather together

alone: isolated: panicked

life, as if eclipsed by a prolonged longing

time suspended, hanging by a hair

off a crumbling ceiling.

On this Friday the 13th,

a boy in 4th grade makes face masks

with paper towel and thick pink elastics

before school closes for three weeks.

A mask for each parent & child

as we play our parts in the global

pandemic of paranoia

aired 24/7 through waves and wires.

When the last Act arrives

before the curtains drop

the public, aroused by shared catharsis

will have been changed

epiphanied: the end was revealed

to be a new beginning:

after decades of factory fumes and traffic buzz

bird melodies and haze-free skies

across empty squares, song

swing and waltz on livened balconies.

Coronavirus has staged

the most monumental tragedy:

                the death of the separate & autonomous individual

& the re-membering of a new humanity

not almighty and deadly

but dangerously vulnerable

humbled

                by a zombie-like microscopic thing.

Our third reader is Jennifer LoveGrove

Jennifer LoveGrove is the author of, most recently, the poetry collection Beautiful Children with Pet Foxes (Book*hug, 2017). Her novel Watch How We Walk was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and she also wrote the poetry collections I Should Never Have Fired the Sentinel and The Dagger Between Her Teeth. She is currently at work on another novel and a poetry manuscript currently nicknamed The Tinder Sonnets. She works at the University of Toronto, and divides her time between downtown Toronto and rural Ontario, Canada.

While Jennifer doesn’t have work in Experiment-O, she is a friend to the Small Machine Talks who I interviewed for one of my favourite episodes, Episode 29 in Season 2, which I’ve mentioned already in previous episodes.

RECORDING 3: JENNIFER LOVEGROVE

That time you made me a flow chart of our relationship: a sonnet

Did your father betray your mother? If

yes, press the elevator down button.

If no, feel the wind rush past you on this

balcony. Marvel at the city’s gloat.

Did your father betray his wife with your

mother? If yes, press send. If no, delete.

Did your father betray you? If yes, press

your palms to my throat. If no, press and hold

until light comes on. Yes yes yes. Caution:

broken road. Is this a clay mask, or is

it really just mud? If yes, recall what

we’d planned: two museums, a photo shoot,

anal sex. If no, press your boots down hard,

splash away every puddle on this road.

Second variant

Did your father betray you? If yes, press

did your father betray your mother? If

balcony, marvel at the city’s gloat.

Splash away every puddle on this road

until light comes on. Yes yes yes. Caution

it really just mud. If yes, recall what

did your father betray? His wife with your

yes. Press the elevator down button.

We’d planned: two museums, a photo shoot,

broken road. Is this a clay mask, or is

mother? If yes, press send. If no, delete

anal sex. If no, press your boots down hard.

If no, feel the wind rush past you on this

your palms to my throat. If no, press and hold.

Third variant

Did your fault betray your motif? If yes,

price this drachma accordingly. If no,

watch the suburbs rut past you as you rush

downtown. I was at the Horseshoe with D—,

he kissed my shoulder then confessed he was

reading my novel. Did your fault betray

your assumptions? If yes, price shy. If no,

tax the sky in breath. My phone off, you’d called

and texted for hours. Did your fault betray

your patterns? If yes, price lemongrass price

cilantro. If no, price the siblings you

were not allowed to know. This will become

your legacy. I’m a clean masochist

I suck out my own splinters, and spit back.

Sandra Ridley lives and writes in Ottawa. Sandra was in the first issue of Experiment-O

She’s reading In Praise of the Healer

RECORDING 4: SANDRA RIDELY

In Praise of the Healer

Swallow the word.

Swallow the tongue.

Swallow down

the fullness in the throat.

Eclipse the eye of the dark.

Open the mouth.

Breathe you in.

Hold the breath.

After the long sought

reckon—

surrender.

Say, with my body I thee worship.

Of course

the inevitable

rupture in my chest

from the heart’s opening.

Courage

stay in my arms

until

you can’t.

Our next reader, Chris Turnbull is the author of Continua (Ottawa: Chaudiere Books 2015; Picton: Invisible Publishing 2019) and [ untitled ] in o w n (Vancouver: CUE Books 2014), one of a trio of poetry books alongside work by Heather Hermant and angela rawlings, respectively. Her recent chapbooks include Undertones, a collaborative chapbook with text/artist Bruno Neiva (Low Frequency 2019), and “contrite” (above/ground

2019). Turnbull’s other work is off the page, as installations exhibited in landscapes or manifested outdoors. Her work can be found online, in print, and within landscapes. She curates an ongoing, site specific

footpress, rout/e, whereby poems are planted on trails: www.etuor.wordpress.com.

RECORDING 5: CHRIS TURNBULL

Chris Turnbull preamble: I’m reading from “cipher”, which is the third chapbook in a series. It was preceded by Candid (dusie kollective #8) in 2014 and contrite (above/ground) in 2019. All three are terrain poems in a period of time that is sketchy for reference. Candid explores a post-norm world (which was true when it was published in 2014) of individuals who are without a recognizable compass, where land is uncertain, forest and city are constructions that are suspicious, with zones of safety and excuse and liberation. Candid is incongruous. contrite follows Candid. Individuals are multi-locative but realize themselves as a ‘we’ that they construct; they refuse obvious detachment. They are self-organized, seemingly autonomous but in some ways gravitate toward commonalities and groupings. A central figure, “The Curator”, resists categorizing them but cannot quite avoid mentoring, fearing, and hiding from them. “cipher” picks up from contrite and Candid – it virtually describes a kind of barren surfeit. Thank you to Amanda Earl for inviting this reading to Small Machine Talks as part of Experiment-o. [Reads from “cipher” I, II, III]

cipher

I

Compelled to get into the guts,

the Canoeist shimmers sideways to shore in a resonant echo-chamber,

with terrible resplendence.

The kids yell: Booey for the Canoeist!

The Curator is in limbic distress, jammed between the trailer wall and its lone filing cabinet, musculature spasming

each time a water bottle hits the trailer’s corrogated metal roof.

The kids yell: Hurrah for the Curator!

From the rise, this distance beyond shore, the kid screws one eye shut and flings

a perfect pebble at the hut’s facing window; it’s a through-and-through.

The kids in unison: There was never such a perfect smirk!

A perfect pebble is returned, catapults,

a propellant of text, sending

landing

suppositions

to drift

II

say, infrequency with

fringed awareness: lapping

frigidity to finish

an outskirted thought:

“left a note”

the littoral zone

green

superfine tendrils

cling

edge recedes,

receives

touch-feathered

foam clouds

dull

shard

shell

dust

difficult to pinpoint

in dispersal

III

Make for the most loosely imagined beach or forest or campfire ring or blank screen:

Punch in the code.

and for scale

fluid over

canopy

borders

cliffs

garden stake

prairie

huts

threat

mountain

cavern

suburb

flag

house

work

love

wrecks

government

street

dismay

graves

airfields

deserts

babies

hospitals

sermons

institutions

lovers

friends

caution

shoes

teeth

soil

rock

letters

roots

immunities

sinkholes

and rims and moss take 5.

Our final reader, Ewan Whyte is a writer and translator. He has written for the Globe & Mail and The Literary Review of Canada. He is the author of  Desire Lines: Essays on Art Poetry & Culture, Entrainment, a book of poetry, and a  translation of the ancient Roman poet Catullus. Ewan was in issue 6.

RECORDING 6: EWAN WHYTE

Guiraut RiquierThe Last Troubadour

 How bleak must have been

the long dangerous journeys

between towns and courts

which gradually lost interest

in your elegant art.

Influenced from the east

but transformed by the medieval western

obsession of individual experience.

For us now, your world is utterly gone,

disappeared with the figures and colours       

in the illuminations of your time.

Your mastery was widely imitated

before it slowly went unnoticed

in your lifetime. Your main audience

should have been the Gnostic Cathars

and Albigansians that stretched

across Occitania, (which became southern France),

into Spain, through northern Italy

into Bosnia and the Balkans.

They supported the early troubadours

and shared some of their values.

You were fourteen when their great

stronghold of Montsegur fell

in the final brutal crusade against them. 

You would have heard living accounts

of how over two hundred Cathar Perfects 

were burnt alive in an enormous fire

near the prat des cramats at the foot of the castle.

Of that time, Arnaud, the Cistercian abbot who was

a commander in the crusade , wrote to Pope Innocent the third.

“Today your Holiness, twenty thousand heretics

were put to the sword, regardless of age, rank, or sex.”

The older surviving Cathar sympathizers

were a large part of your audience.

They still admired the troubadours, but they

slowly died off and you lost your patrons

For a while you worked as a poet

for Almarich the fourth, Viscount of Narbonne

but you were not fully recognized.

At forty you crossed the Pyrenees

and worked as a poet for Alfonso the tenth

for ten years. Later you crossed back

over the Pyrenees and wrote for Henry the second

Count of Rodez, who gave troubadours protection.

but times had changed, court entertainers

could sing the poems and songs 

of the troubadours and do juggling tricks as well.

Creation of original troubadour poems

became superfluous and you found no new patrons.

In the regional economic decline you moved back

to the town of your birth and found

employment writing religious poetry.

No longer could you write of latent mysticism

in the Gnostic language of god as all forms of love.

The world had changed. The Catholic Church

had won and dissent was no longer an option. 

Jongleurs and minstrels called themselves

troubadours. And the troubadours were no more.

In your last known poem you wrote:

“I remember my difficult past, I look at the merciless present,

and when I think of the future, I have true reason to weep.

I will have to stop singing… for truly I came too late.”

Thanks to the readers, to Charles for processing, to Jennifer Pederson for Intros and Outros and to you for listening and sharing. We have enough recordings to do a third episode from Experiment-O contributors. Stay tuned!

Episode 58 – Experiment-O – Part 1

The Small Machine Talks

Episode 58: Experiment-O Part 1 with audio recordings. Episode recorded on Wednesday, May 6, 2020.

Hello everyone and welcome to the Small Machine Talks Episode 58. For this episode I invited contributors to Experiment-O to send me their audio readings of their poetry.

Experiment-O is an AngelHousePress publication. It’s published online annually to celebrate the art of risk. It includes poetry, visual poetry, visual art and occasionally experimental prose from contributors all over the world. We started it in 2008 and I’m now working on the 13th issue.

Every year I invite 10 or 12 participants. Each issue has a dedication. Issue 12 was dedicated to the late bill dimichele, who was a great contributor to AngelHousePress and a wonderful artist, poet and publisher. I’ll share the link to Experiment-O in the show notes: http://experiment-o.com/.

For this episode, I received poetry and recordings by six contributors: Gary Barwin, JC Bouchard, Jason Christie, Concetta Principe and Elaine Woo. I’ll introduce each reader and they’ll read a few poems.

Gary Barwin is a writer, composer, visual and multidisciplinary artist and the author of twenty-four books of poetry, fiction and books for children. His latest books include A Cemetery for Holes, a poetry collaboration with Tom Prime (Gordon Hill) and For It is a Pleasure and a Surprise to Breathe: New and Selected Poems, ed. Alessandro Porco (Wolsak and Wynn) A new novel, Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted: The Ballad of Motl the Cowboy will appear from Random House in 2021. He lives in Hamilton and at garybarwin.com. Gary was in our first issue in 2008. In 2015 we republished his first chapbook, phases of the harpsichord moon, and in 2014 we published a visual poetry collaboration of Gary’s and mine, Bone Sapling. Here’s Gary reading his poem Leonardo Inventor of Scissors.

RECORDING 1: GARY BARWIN

Leonardo, inventor of scissors

Gary Barwin

1.

sharp brother to ampersand

crossed hands of the dead

what can this poem do?

he was a great man

but he didn’t invent them

averruncator

from Latin

to ward off, remove mischief

used for averruncating

the high branches of trees, etc.

how does the snick of blades

compare with applause?

hands coming together

help us celebrate

what is severed

Leonardo on his porch sipping

coffee

imagining

weapons of war

bridges

none of them

the shape of hand

if you were the left blade

and I the right

if we entered a cave

running

and one of us fell

a left eyeball and a right

impaled in violet light

the best of poems

2.

Leonardo writes

the best of poems

disappear

frantic averruncating below

the string that walked into a bar?

I’m a frayed night

scissors like a scar

eyes closed

black cloth of shadow

slow sad goodbye

(applause)

3.

girl leaves family home

long-ago BC

imagine she says

sharp nothing divides

day night cloth leather

now from before

inventor escapes sack

the tent

rhapsode

from Greek

“to sew songs [together]”

my left leg my right

4.

the Mona Lisa cut

a thousand pieces

returned to paint

then coloured

  1. a forest
  2. a cave
  3. a flock of birds

in the meantime

Leonardo invents

the staircase

sorrow

anger

angels

when I was a boy they told

about Jesus in the gym

felt figures on a felt Jerusalem

the donkey

palm branches

Our Lord

His cross

where “we” killed him

I looked for my brother

only other Jew

Ireland late 1960s

in school

I invented a language

a prayer on filing cards

the mystery

rosebush from front yard

rosewood what my father’s big desk

was made of

once I fell from a wall

scarred my forehead

bled as I crawled home

sister to Darkness and Night

the third Fate with scissors ready

the clip of scissors a war

on time and its alphabet

the body

we live

Our next reader is Joshua Chris Bouchard. Joshua Chris Bouchard’s collection of poetry and photographs, Let This Be The End of Me (Bad Books Press), was short-listed for the bpNichol Chapbook Award. He lives in Toronto. He contributed to Issue 9 of Experiment-O published In 2016. Here’s Joshua…

RECORDING 2: Joshua Chris Bouchard

Joshua Chris Bouchard

Oh summer

my red hot ass burns to lick

melting ice cream from your fingers

at dawn in the park on a swing set

bucking myself wild and barreling

near the cathedrals of blood puddles

just along the chalkline of where I have

met you

Oh summer

the lampshades are heavy again

my body in the pool of hollow bones

candy thrown from black canvas tote bags

the mouths of awestruck newly weds spread

SPF 50 deep catching seedlings under dumbfuck

half-moons groping themselves like a choir in heat

taking a giant piss on the canopy of eyelashes

We lose everything

the will to smoke and shop and eat and pet

pretending to live forever and ever on feathers

wet with firecracker white-light plumage

woe is me walking towards the picnic table

eating a rotten fig like an apple-stucked piglet

singing songs to the skunky hands in my sweat

and that’s all very good because it is summer

motherfucker it is always bright and spit shined

As I point to the sky

My right temple

This place

Our third reader is Jason Christie. Jason Christie is the author of four books of poetry: Canada Post (Invisible), i-ROBOT (EDGE), Unknown Actor (Insomniac), and Cursed Objects (Coach House Books). Jason’s work appeared in issue 8 of Experiment-O published in 2015. Here’s Jason reading Incantation.

RECORDING 3

Slow death

“The idle singer of an empty day.”

— William Morris, ‘The Earthly Paradise: Apology’

Incantation

Burnt umber grey earth rock

Mist and fog clouding and

Occluding the view of my

Yard, the yard, a sick pine

Tilting in the corner, run-

Down wooden garage, and

Pale deck flowing into focus

Arise with me, o world, dawn

First warms then slices through

My dawn. Arise with me, my

Sick pine, rotting garage, and

Pale deck into the hours of a

Day filled with family and fear.

1.

Aghast, I make coffee and

Ask my digital assistant to

Play music in the family room

Before my children wake,

Before my wife wakes, and

Before time succumbs to things.

2.

Before and after breakfast, I

Ride the stationary bike in our

Basement and lift weights. Any-

Thing out of the ordinary recedes

A little into the future. Whatever

That will be when we get there. I

Climb the steps from the basement

Into the noise of my family watching

Videos on the tv, listening to music,

Discussing the particulars of our day.

3.

Comfort and grace, the

Living room is still dark

Even with the lights set

Bright. Grey and rainy

And extending ourselves

One more minute by

Replying to email or a

Text message or phone

Call, deliberately checking

Each person in our lives

Off a mental list with a sigh.

4.

An ordinary day, uninterrupted

Time, minutes unbound from

Necessity, to stand at my kitchen

Counter and write a poem with-

Out children running at me demanding

Milk, hugs, goldfish crackers, candy –

Selfish and unkind thoughts, self-

Isolating, and yet to flip a slow death

And morph it to slow death’s approach

As it broadcasts from the kitchen hub.

5.

I’m the mud all morning, we

Smashed and buried rocks and

Chopped ice at the garage door.

My son asks: where do diamonds

Come from? Do these rocks have

Carbon inside?” And our elderly

Neighbour appears at the fence,

She asks how we are holding up,

Says they are doing fine, nothing

Too bothersome over there. I tell

Her we are happy to help if they

Need anything and she replies the

Same. I return to my son smashing

Rocks, wondering what this means

To him beyond being off school and

Self-isolating with his family? What

Does it mean to any of us? Why

Not smash rocks and dig in the mud?

My neighbours continue to shovel ice

And snow from their deck. My son

And I decide it is lunch time. We

Remove our filthy boots, wash our

Hands, singing happy birthday twice.

6.

More pancakes – the cry interrupts

The writing of this poem. Oh, to be

Living in a time with a surplus of

Pancakes. Why, the child shouts?

Why? Voice raised to the absolute

Limit, chanting and antagonizing

As any good six year old should.

Why can’t we go to the grocery

Store? Not angry, half asleep and

Full of hunger for the next new

Experience, he asks our digital

Assistant to play (Nothing But)

 Flowers by the Talking Heads.

7.

They scream from the basement,

They scream from the stairs, they

Scream from the kitchen, they scream

From their bedrooms, they scream from

The family room, they scream from the

Living room. One wants milk, one wants

New shows to watch, one wants a

Diaper change, one wants a new toy,

One wants a walk outside, one wants

To smash rocks, one wants what one

Wants. They scream in unison for

Either parent to attend, for the adults

To solve their problems, they resort

To social media to plead for help.

8.

Somehow we arrive at dinner

As a family, as individuals neatly

Made from our home, technology,

Relationships, needs, and wants. I

Make plain pasta for the children and

You and I eat leftover lentil pasta in

A tomato sauce while splitting sour beer.

9.

At bedtime we fall into each other,

Exhausted from proximity, from

Filling hours with words, sharing

Minutes we would have spent alone

Instead learning what we each feel

When confronted with night,

With the fear of night permeating

Each thought, tic, gesture, smile — as

News roles along and the numbers rise

Headline after headline showing no peak

And no valley for the virus and the slide.

10.

Faith at four am when you wake

To piss and can’t fall back asleep,

Faith when faced with your failures

And fears in the mirror while your

Children sleep, while no cars go by,

No lights shine in the world, and

All everywhere lay quietly coiled

In dreams without boundaries, in

Want of miracles and trembling,

Trembling and unanchored, adrift

Everywhere, waves upon waves

In silence sleeping, sleeping silently.

RECORDING 4: CARRIE HUNTER

Carrie Hunter received her MFA/MA in the Poetics program at New College of California and has two books out with Black Radish Books, The Incompossible and Orphan Machines, and has published around 15 chapbooks. Her third full length book, Vibratory Milieu, is forthcoming from Nightboat books in Fall of 2020. She lives in San Francisco and teaches ESL. Carrie’s poetry was published in issue 9. Here’s Carrie reading two poems

“The Orchard That Was Right for You”

Setting: The Water.

Shawls, a wharf, a rope, a password.
Smiles are a pattern you wear indicating a dagger.
An outfit, an ensemble. An ensembly. An assembly.

Acquiescent demands. The water a place
to be pampered. The setting not a specific setting.

The coded language of a region inaccessible to the uninitiated.
What we think we know, but we don’t.

Always confusing deictic and enclitic.

Sinkholes open up cleverly disguised.
Everyday mundane questions; Another summer
coming to take its hand from the sun.

This is a land memoir.

“Fish tales” is an idiom that means the fish are speaking.

Bluetoothvegetables. Talking in specifics around a nonspecificity.

Pointed accusations coming to

take their hands from the moon.

Not a space for stopping to think or reconsider,
but something to fall into and be lost forever in.

“That odd, dank furor of attention.”

No sense of time rushing past or other people’s sense of time.

Being the pivot, but stopping just short,

but being adorable. And in the shadows,

the memories of everyone else

who’s ever looked down into

Rivers, basins, lobes, deposits, locks, and levees. The Gulf.

Wishes that are shadows.

Wishes you never remember.

Wish’s decline a sort of wholesomeness.

Animistic wish flying but no longer a wish, a bird.

A list of things that are fresh or might be.

A word that reminds you of a previous crisis.

That moment after a sound reverberates.

Negative striation.

We look for a beginning in the wreckage.

Verdancies profligate.

“Nurse of the Arcades”

Question of whether we are at shores or gardens.

“there there,” she says, or there —> pointing. Deictic.

“It nourishes other asides it knows nothing of.”

I don’t want to say what comes after. Dancing
after, sidestepping what’s passed, is still passing,

passes over us. Tedious crossfading.

Something to escape, or something to escape to.

“My fear is like a small house: you can come visit me/

but it will not go away.” Passing through as a sort of

departure. Something is always coming loose in the poem.

Chilly, unripe fruit, timeless or nonspecific time.

Being put to the test, but not now, sometime in the future.

For now, some non-test activity, or battling the weather.

[Not at a] pinnacle of some decision or other.

“Haint” blue, whispers of taint, it is and it ain’t,
what taints, is tainted.

Psychics who are right.

A list of metaphors for building something.

The city and the city’s lair.

All lives have battle sections.

Definition of the one and only in horticultural terms. 

“They handed us over to it/and we were alone.”

The battle scene leads to the Arcadian scene.

The animals, pilgrims, defeated, supplicants, bushes, virtue,

an antidote. The domens, a joke, a centipede, morass.

A beast, a lair. Apathetic wondering.

An unnamable coherence.

Love’s crescendo, but inside a fermata.

Fear’s wall; a depression.

A man walking his dog with a dog ball launcher,

and I say, “That man is walking alone holding a single flower.”

A bird is screeching outside my window. I ask, “What is that?”
He says, “An eagle.”

“No center, only the circuit”

NOTE: Lines in quotes are taken from John Ashbery’s “Flowchart,” unless stated otherwise. Italicized lines are from or inspired by Marthe Reed’s posthumously published “Ark Hive.” Lines that are both italicized and in quotes are also from John Ashbery’s “Flowchart,” but italicized in his text.

Our next reader is Concetta Principe. Concetta Principe is a writer of poetry and creative non-fiction, and scholarship on trauma and literature. Her recent collection, This Real (Pedlar Press 2017) was long-listed for the League of Canadian Poet’s Raymond Souster Award. Her creative non-fiction project on suicide is forthcoming with Gordon Hill Press in the spring of 2021. Her work has appeared in Canadian and American journals including The Malahat Review, The Capilano Review, experiment-o, and Hamilton Arts and Literature. She teaches English Literature and Creative Writing at Trent University, Durham. Concetta’s poems appeared in issue 12 in 2019. Concetta is reading some of the work from the issue.

RECORDING 5: CONCETTA PRINCIPE

EXCERPTS FROM – EX NIHILO: 9 Uneasy Steps to a PhD – concetta principe

EX NIHILO 3

Fed up, she breaks it. Bursting of things. She breaks it not like the boy who takes the stick to his piniata and screams victory; she breaks it not like the musician does his instrument against the brick, careening; breaks not like the boy’s smile with chocolate all over his face. What she breaks is inside, under cover, near the spine, brittle as flowers to remember walking in summer. She breaks it not like she means it. She breaks it because the fast must end. The fast-lane and Betty is driving again. From the rim of “mother” we are born into a world of naming, rimming the world with our pissy semantics, Romantics, Wordsworth and Byron, Saussure’s signifier and Lacan’s point is…. Badiou and Žižek, Baudelaire and Stein, Freud, Wittgenstein, and philosophy stewed prunes. Derrida’s ‘aleph’, two. Of lips and anus and ears and eyes and then the hidden rim, the second hidden rim, not between her legs, but the one deep deep down between her lips. Very. She aches. 

EX NIHILO 3.7

Beating the board to make her point; beating the dress to flatten her hips; beating the matter into a ghost of itself. Beating the odds at Woodbine. Beating the meat for Dexter’s art. Beating the horse is a crime in all countries. Beating the chest to say, “I did this!” Beating the wall till it crumbled. Beating the neighour in a game of chess. Beating the odds and the bleachers. Beating the Canadiennes teaches you something about passing on the defence-line. Beats me. Beats me. Ears and nose and mouth around the eight-wheeler of another crime, spinning off the tracks of CBCs Hockey Night. Beats. The beating. The ice was as black as her smile was red. So very.

EX NIHILO 5

My Marxist was a Derrida cat. My fascist was the Blanchot bird. My cat and bird played crazy eights. Why are eights so crazy? The struggle to stay afloat is called treading the universal. An eight falls over and goes eternal. Tread the halls, the tutorials, students, lectures, essays, and all the effing signifiers without end. Feel the eighties slip around as if you are laddering failure. Forever. It is ok to always be falling or struggling. It is ok never to catch Farah Fawcet and her hair. Shampoo and shoulder pads godawful. Swimming practice in your birthday suit. This very watery, so many particles, so many words, word bubbles, so many pieces of words, so many threads to each piece. So much to count. Things are so very whole numbers. Fuck the fractions. There was chocolate. There was Marx and a fascist. I want a noun now, says the doctor. There were almonds, as well. I will sell you the verb, says insurance. Allergic. The psychoanalyst said nothing but cut deeply.

Our final reader is Elaine Woo. Elaine Woo is a poet, artist, and librettist living on the West Coast of Canada.  She is the author of the poetry collections, Put Your Hand in Mine and Cycling with the Dragon.  Her work is published internationally:   in Canada, the US, Australia, the UK, France, and Hong Kong.  Elaine’s poetry appears in Experimet-O in issue 10, published in 2017. Elaine is reading four poems from Put Your Hand in Mine, which came out with Signature Editions in 2019.

RECORDING 6: ELAINE WOO

Feeling the Way

                                                                   bleeding colours

                                                                                             hazier than the real tableau

                                                        broken-thermostat-delusion

path art     a braid

                                                                                entwining of light and shade strands

dandelion helices—I sing the body electric!

                                                             water daemons flit through meaning

trustworthiness, a boulder

                                                 every boulder, the thermostat whines blue

   willow limbs drape mood

                                a curse            abstract this labyrinth

                                                   trip into gasps

                    skip stepping stones of robust bones

                                                                                      grin in hands

                                                                 retain nylon plane, fly through tears in sky

Tumult

                                                                                  Grey clouds squat, dulling conifers

                             biting wind curls hair around ears.

    Push on, dead leaves crackle underfoot

                                                                                  crumple, fragments.

                                Ashen curtain sinks

             Feet, too hulking to drag across deck

                                                  in pools of milk of magnesia.

                                                                                                         SLOOGE!  OOGE!

                                                                                                                                  Falcon dive.

                 This, maybe a video game:                       crawl midway before eyelids droop

    Every muscle, drained batteries                   throat dry of words

                               mind manipulates bodily joystick

                                                                                     barrel feet clump on, falter.

                                                      Ambulance siren scrapes past.

                                                                Ambiguity of voices

                                                                                                        peaks,

                                                                                                                      fades

Debt

Spider pauses on her silk nexus considering the wet that pelts her abdomen.  Eight legs

consider                       aluminum ledge.

Mottled mushroom, an awning for ants and other modest behemoths of the forest.

Iridescent mussels on slick rocks by the jagged shore, whether or not the tide should

bring them plankton, they rooted cling.

Indebted to those of soil, oceans, the blue.

Arm’s Reach Away

Not exempt from the rent of loneliness

torn by barbed wire of misunderstanding.

Creek ripples register a companionable shrr  shrr

fronds sweep the air in reply

camellia platters, red buds of depth

wild rhododendrons trumpet

planetary dispatch—lively communion

leaches through this isolate cloak.

Thanks to all the readers and thanks to you for listening. Thanks to Charles for processing and putting the recordings together, and thanks to Jennifer for the intro and outro.

I hope to have more episodes with readings from Experiment-O contributors and others in future. Stay tuned!