Episode 67: Gary Barwin

The Small Machine Talks Interviews Gary Barwin Episode 66

Recorded on October 15, 2020


Latest visual poetry book: Ampers&thropocene (Penteract Press)


Gary’s interview on the Penteract Press podcast


We have a fascinating and inspiring conversation about visual poetry, language and text, its interaction with the world. We discuss his videos, process, the use of various tools. Gary talks about studying with bpNichol and the idea of trying everything. Amanda asks about Gary’s relationship to colour. We imagine Photoshop with a smell function. Amanda conjures up the idea of making a vispo opera. Gary sees the potentiality of text’s movement. Amanda asks about Gary’s use of the Max programming language to make videos. Gary talks about his interest in transformation, mapping things into colour or visuals. A source text can be a type of schematic that shows the interactions and structure of how the original works. We discuss the importance of play for exploration and being open to the system breaking down.

bpNichol’s First Screening: computer poems:


How Visual Poetry Will Change Your Life with Gary, Dani Spinosa and Michael Sikkema


Visual language is everywhere. Gary talks about an app for connecting people who like certain fonts. He mentions our rich response to textual language and its connection in the world. He’s interested in the person who created the work. What’s the page-eye-view of the letter. All of the stuff around the letter.

Amanda asks about Gary’s collaboration and responses to the work of other visual poets.

OO: Typewriter Funk in response to Dani Spinosa’s OO: Typewriter Poems

Bone Sapling by Gary and Amanda, a visual poetry chapbook published by AngelHousePress


Gary mentions that responses and collaborations are about seeing writing as a dialogue.

We discuss the visual poetry community and social media, about being able to work with others without necessarily speaking the same language. Gary talks about mail art as a way in which the visual poetry community came together in the past.

Amanda asks about how Gary’s work is going through the pandemic. We talk about the place of reading, love of books, visual poetry aspects of Yiddish for Pirates, Gary’s novel. We discuss how being Jewish is a part of Gary’s creativity, how Hebrew letters existed before the world, the centrality of text and language in Jewish culture, books as objects. We discuss who could direct the movie of Yiddish for Pirates. Gary talks about his next novel, which riffs off cowboys.

Yiddish for Pirates


Translating Translating Apollinaire


Upcoming appearances and events:

A video will soon be online for the Art Bar Reading Series.

He’s hosting the next Lit Live Reading Series in November: http://litlive.blogspot.com/

He posts many videos he’s made on his Youtube Channel:


Thanks to Gary Barwin for being on the show, to Charles for processing, to Jennifer Pederson for the theme song, and to you for listening and sharing the episode. Stay tuned for the next episode with Klara Du Plessis later this month, future episodes with Dennis Cooley, Sacha Archer, Pearl Pirie, Frances Boyle and a special episode on the poetic elements of music in December featuring amazing musician Subhraj Singh.