beaulieu-emersonWriting Surfaces: Selected Fiction of John Riddell

Co-edited with Lori Emerson.

Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013.

available for order here.

John Riddell is best known for “H” and “Pope Leo, El ELoPE,” a pair of graphic fictions written in collaboration with, or dedicated to, bpNichol, but his work moves well beyond comic strips into a series of radical fictions. In Writing Surfaces, derek beaulieu and Lori Emerson present “Pope Leo, El ELoPE” and many other works in a collection that showcases Riddell’s remarkable mix of largely typewriter-based concrete poetry mixed with fiction and drawings.

Riddell’s work embraces game play, unreadability and illegibility, procedural work, non-representational narrative, photocopy degeneration, collage, handwritten texts, and gestural work. His self-aware and meta-textual short fiction challenges the limits of machine-based composition and his reception as a media-based poet.

Riddell’s oeuvre fell out of popular attention, but it has recently garnered interest among poets and critics engaged in media studies (especially studies of the typewriter) and experimental writing. As media studies increasingly turns to “media archaeology” and the reading and study of antiquated, analogue-based modes of composition (typified by the photocopier and the fax machine as well as the typewriter), Riddell is a perfect candidate for renewed appreciation and study by new generations of readers, authors, and scholars.

  • Jonathan Ball’s capsule review of Writing Surfaces (Winnipeg Free press)

*****

201219_LRUSH: What Fuckan Theory; a  study uv language.

Co-edited with Gregory Betts.

Toronto: bookthug, 2012.

available for order here.

The publication of bill bissett’s Rush: what fuckan theory; a study uv language in 1972 firmly ushered Canadian poetics into the postmodern era. Out of print for 40 years – and reissued here complete with an interview with bissett about the book’s creation and a critical afterword by derek beaulieu and Gregory Betts – Rush embodies a collagist, multi-conscious approach to art that recognizes no division between the work and the world, the author and his sexuality, his breath, his influences; the theory and the practice. Arguing that “a new line has started,” Rush captures the urgency of a new model of production that resists the closure and mastery of any one mind. It is an elegant rejection of aesthetic ego and all presumptions of authority. Rush: what fuckan theory; a study uv language is a vital, vocal protest against business as usual and the exploitation of the individual from one of Canada’s most important avant-garde poets.

  • Jonathan Ball’s capsule review of RUSH: What Fuckan Theory; a  study uv language (Winnipeg Free Press)

*****

26 Alphabets (for Sol LeWitt)

Calgary: No press, 2009.

available for order or free download here.

In November of 2008, beaulieu approached a number of poets and conceptual writers, asking them to fulfill a series of simple instructions: “On a single sheet of paper in letters approximately one half inch tall write the alphabet from A to Z”. 26 Alphabets (for Sol LeWitt) documents the results of that request, and includes work from Gareth Jenkins, Lorenzo Menoud, Oana Avasilichioaei, Helen Hajnoczky, Robert Fitterman, Donato Mancini, Gregory Betts, Jonathan Ball, Nico Vassilakis, Mark Laliberte, Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl, Christian Bök, Harold Abramowitz, Johanna Drucker, Giles Goodland, Ross Priddle, Gitte Broeng, John Bennett, Crag Hill, Peter Ganick, Jeff Hilson, Peter Jaeger, Nick Thurston, Stephen McLaughlin, Kjetil Røed and kevin mcpherson eckhoff.

*****

shift & switch: new Canadian poetry

Co-edited with Jason Christie and angela rawlings.

Toronto: Mercury, 2005.

Out of Print.

Avant-garde poets challenge the reading and writing status quo,and question what a poem may be. Canada’s cutting-edge authors have been widely acclaimed internationally as some of the most important innovators of the 20th and 21st centuries. Conventional poetry anthologies may emphasize traditional lyric poetry; Shift & Switch offers a unique alternative: radicality, innovation, and experimentation with sound, visual elements, mathematics, surrealism, and ’pataphysics.