Calgary’s Derek Beaulieu and Colorado’s Lori Emerson have selected a variety of experimental fictions by John Riddell (that most resemble visual poems) in the collection Writing Surfaces (Wilfrid Laurier, 158 pages, $20).
The title is best reading as if “surfaces” were a verb, so that the book presents an implicit argument that writing “surfaces” despite the sense that Riddell is attempting to destroy the possibility of writing. One sequence literally finds Riddell feeding poems he has written into a shredder and presenting images of the unreadable, shredded text.
Riddell’s experiments remain radical, whereas much similar work from the period seems dated. Writing Surfaces thus recovers Riddell’s reputation while reframing his oeuvre in a contemporary context.