Saturday, April 24, 2010

Opening Stanzas

The first two verse paragraphs of Gertude Stein's "Rooms" from Tender Buttons:

Act so that there is no use in a centre. A wide action is not a width. A preparation is given to the ones preparing. They do not eat who mention silver and sweet. There was an occupation.

A whole centre and a border make hanging a way of dressing. This which is not why there is a voice is the remains of an offering. There was no rental.

The first two stanzas of my allusive referential reduction of Stein's "Rooms":

Perform without a spotlight.
A mix for the masters.
Starve the saccharine smiths.
Apparent apartheid.

Attired for the execution.
A speaking sacrifice.
In chancery.

I've called the whole reduction-translation
Stanzas, and it will be out soon as a chapbook from Bookthug.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Secret Influences 3: Icarus

Although, following Joyce, most poets tend to identify with Daedalus, the ingenious artificer, I've always had a soft spot for Icarus. There's something attractive about the artistic figure who strives towards the extremes of invention, who pushes the linguistic system or metaphors just a bit too far, and ends up getting burnt by the sun. There's a bit of Rimbaud's voyant in Icarus, as I envision him, which makes him avant-garde in contrast to Daedalus' more Modernist inclinations.

While my earliest recollection of understanding Icarus as a poetic figure comes from Alden Nowlan's evocative "I, Icarus" (and okay, I'll be honest, Iron Maiden's "Flight of Icarus"), my favourite representation of Icarus comes from the above 1558 painting by Pieter Brueghel. As is probably common for contemporary poets, I first sought out this image after reading William Carlos Williams's Pictures from Brueghel, but the painting has had a more lasting effect on my poetry than the Williams poem. While I certainly admire Williams, and count him as an influence, his ekphrasic take on this painting has always seemed more descriptive than allegorical.

Beyond providing me with an analogy for the adventurous poet in contemporary society, this painting was influential in the composition of Torontology. While I was quite invested with the investigation of Greek and Roman myth in that book, I was attempting to do so from a contemporary perspective and Brueghel's painting spoke to me about the place of the mythological within the quotidian, about society's neglect of the marvellous (in Andre Breton's sense), and about the importance of the unexpected in art--that even when you believe that you've grasped the dominant meaning of a given poem, your reading can always be problematized by something small happening in the lower right corner.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Rust Belt Reading & Fireside Chant

On April 20th I'll be travelling to the U.S.--for the first time since Clinton was President--to read at Rust Belt Books.


202 Allen Street

Buffalo, NY 14201

Date and Time: 7:30pm, Tuesday April 20th

Gregory Betts is a poet and scholar in St. Catharines, Ontario. He is the author of two experimental, constraint-based projects: If Language (BookThug 2005) and The Others Raisd in Me (Pedlar Press 2009). He co-edits PRECIPICe literary magazine and curates the Grey Borders Reading Series. He is currently working on a history of early Canadian avant-gardism.

Stephen Cain is the author of three poetry collections—American Standard/ Canada Dry (Coach House, 2005), Torontology (ECW, 2001), and dyslexicon (Coach House, 1998)—and a collaborative series of micro-fictions, Double Helix (Mercury, 2006), written with Jay MillAr. He is also co-author, with Tim Conley, of The Encyclopedia of Fictional and Fantastic Languages (Greenwood, 2006). He lives in Toronto where has been a literary editor at the Queen Street Quarterly and fiction editor at Insomniac Press. His newest chapbook is Wordwards (No Press, Calgary).

Holly (a second-year PhD candidate affiliated with the Buffalo Poetics Program) Melgard (DOB: 10/13/83, Sex: F, Eyes: Br, Ht: 5’3, Wt: 145 lbs, Organ donor) is an English Composition (101, 201, and 102) instructor (section C-1, Park 148, 10-10:50 M,W,F). A profile of her most recent work has just been published online by Craigslist, Wikipedia, and MScape. Other poems have been published in print by Boog City, Scrap Paper, Converse, and Slightly West—the latter two of which she also edited.

Justin Parks is a third-year PhD student, a fellow-traveler of the poetics program, and a student of American modernist literature and culture. With Minna Miemi, he’s co-authored an essay on Claude McKay and James Joyce that will be appearing in a collection titled Phenomenology, Modernism, and Beyond later this year.


The day after, Greg and I will back across the border, in Niagara Falls, to participate in the Hearthside Reading Series:

the hearthside hearings: an introspective literary reading and discussion series
brought to you by grey borders

the hearthside hearings present:
an evening with authors Gregory Betts and Stephen Cain
Wed. April 21st 2010 8:00pm EST In Niagara Falls Ontario

seats are very limited so please contact us
or call
to RSVP before April 16, 2010

Admittance is free but donations will be accepted graciously at the door

if you cannot attend in person join us LIVE on ustream
Wednesday April 21, 2010 at 8:00pm EST

Saturday, April 03, 2010

New from NO

for more information, or to order copies, please email:

derek beaulieu