Sunday, July 31, 2011


Just received my copy of the much-anticipated Arc/New Quarterly science and literature collaboration, QuArc, which contains a trio of my stranger poems. Haven't had a chance to delve into it deeply yet, but it's a meaty and intriguing production, with lots of sharp visuals. The poetry/photography collaboration of Harry Thurston and Thaddeus Holownia is especially arresting.

Receiving this magazine is timely, as I'm just finishing work on my MA thesis, which is largely concerned with intersections between poetry and science, particularly in relation to the nature of selfhood and self-consciousness. This involves me quoting a lot of neuroscientists and saying that Roland Barthes didn't really know what he was talking about. Which is always fun, eh. When my thesis was in the proposal stage, a prof told me that I should bring some theory into it because it would be expected. Not sure this is what he meant....

Speaking of interdisciplinary awesomeness, if you've got an hour or two, you might want to check out this interview with pioneering neurophilosophers Paul and Patricia Churchland:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stacey May Fowles on CNQ's systemic sexism

....and a few other things. I've responded, because I think the criticism of CNQ is uninformed. In discussions with other editors and the publisher of the magazine, no single non-content-question has come up more often than the rather lad-heavy list of contributors. It isn't something we want, but as I say in my comments on Stacey's post, it's something of an uphill slog trying to get women to contribute to the magazine. I think most reviews editors, particularly ones working for low-paying venues, could tell you the same story. We're a magazine that solicits most of our content; I expect magazines that rely on a passive slush-pile model have no trouble, since there are probably at least as many female as male writers out there submitting fiction and poetry to journals. And I know from my work at a more mainstream magazine that there are loads of gung-ho female freelancers out there looking for work--work that pays well, at least. Book reviewing and literary criticism is a ghetto. Maybe it's just that women are fed up with doing hard work for lousy pay, eh.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pessoa cont.

Each of us is various, many people, a prolixity of selves. Which is why the person who disdains his world is not the same as the person who rejoices or suffers because of his world. In the vast colony of our being there are many species of people, thinking and feeling differently. ... And like a diverse but compact multitude, this world of different people that I am projects a unique shadow--this calm, writing body that I lean against Borges's high desk, where I came to look for my blotter, which I'd lent him.

More Pessoa

When grammar defines usage, it makes legitimate and false divisions. For example, it makes some verbs transitive and others intransitive. A man who knows how to speak often has to make a transitive verb intransitive in order to photograph what he feels instead, as usually happens with the common human animal, of seeing his feelings darkly. If I want to say that I exist, I would say, "I am." If I want to say that I exist as a separate soul, I would say, "I am I." But if I want to say that I exist as an entity that directs and forms itself, how can I use the verb "to be" unless I suddenly make it transitive? So I triumphantly, antigrammatically supreme, would say, "I'm me." I will have spoken a philosophy in two small words. Isn't this better than saying nothing in forty sentences?

I have no political or social feelings. But in a certain sense I do have a highly patriotic feeling. My country is the Portuguese language. It wouldn't bother me if Portugal were invaded or conquered, unless I were personally incommoded. But I hate, with true hatred, with the only hatred I feel, not those who write Portuguese badly, not those who are ignorant of syntax, not those who spell phonetically, but the badly written page, as if it were a living person. I hate incorrect syntax as if it were a person to beat, incorrect spelling as if it were phlegm spit at me, independently of the person who spit it. 

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet (trans. Alfred Mac Adam)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Trottering on the Mooney

I shared this on Facebook--where I seem to be doing most of the bite-sized blogging I used to do over here--the other day, but thought I'd post it here as well, in case anyone following CLM is off-'book, as it were. A very smart interview of Joshua Trotter by Jacob Mooney. Very glad to see Josh's book not only getting attention, but intelligent attention. You should give it yours!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Interview at Open Book Toronto

The interview I did with Toronto high school student Micaela Kirkwood-Lazazzera has been re-posted at the Open Book Toronto site, in case you missed it previously...