NEW from Timglaset! On Syntax is a work of appropriation and transformation. Derek Beaulieu takes Louis Aragon’s paragraphs on syntax from Treatise on Style and slowly and painstakingly rewrites them with dry transfer letters, turning them into ten visual poems, testaments to the crumbling state of his old Letraset sheets.

On Syntax was mimeo printed by psw and the fickleness of the 1970s Gestetner machine adds a further layer of decay to Aragon’s iconoclastic text, which is also included in its original form.

Derek Beaulieu, On Syntax, 28 pages with a dust cover with french flaps. Mimeo printed by psw in Rostock on Werkdruck 115 gsm paper and digitally printed on Munken Pure 100 gsm and Rössler Paperado 160 gsm at Mediaverkstaden Skåne, Malmö. Cut, folded and assembled at Timglaset HQ in Malmö Jan-Feb 2019. 100 copies were made. Price: 6 EUR + shipping.
https://timglaset.com/2019/02/17/derek-beaulieu-on-syntax/

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Check out the Calgary Public Library‘s new Short Story Dispenser! (thrilled to have some of my writing in this fabulous idea!)

(excerpted from Seen of the Crime. Snare 2011 / ubu editions 2012)

For May 2010, Robert Fitterman hosted a storefront facility in New York City’s Bowery that sold nothing but words. Rob’s Word Shop was open Tuesdays and Thursdays May 5th through May 27th 11AM to 2PM selling single letters for 50 cents and words for 1 dollar a piece.

Clients were invited to request letters and words and specify which typeface (typed or handwritten, in printing or cursive) in which they would like those words produced. Fitterman then created the requested letters, words, phrases and sentences to the clients’ specifications, produced an invoice and commercial documentation and completed the sale. All requests and conversations were recorded and all purchases were obsessively detailed—fodder for Fitterman’s next book. Fitterman also allowed for mailorder requests and posted daily updates on his fledgling company’s success at robswordshop.blogspot.com.

Needless to say, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to participate in a venture that stands the traditional writing-publishing model on its head. I placed an email order for the penultimate sentence from Herman Melville’s novella Bartleby the Scrivener: “On errands of life these letters speed towards death.” I dutifully sent Fitterman a cheque for $9US and promptly received an envelope containing the requested sentence handwritten horizontally across a standard sheet of paper rubberstamped and signed by Fitterman. Accompanying the sentence was an itemized invoice stamped KEEP THIS SLIP 34 FOR YOUR REFERENCE and a typed alternative setting of the same sentence (no charge).

At the outset of Melville’s novella, Bartleby is a model employee, highly praised by his superiors. Bartleby soon refuses to participate in any of the expected duties of his office and of Capitalist society. Bartleby begins to respond to demands that he dutifully execute his role as scrivener (handcopying business documents) with the phrase “I would prefer not to.” This lack of participation soon spreads to all aspects of Bartleby’s life and he eventually dies, preferring not to eat.

I requested that particular sentence as conceptual poets adopt Bartleby the Scrivener as a stylistic forerunner of conceptual writing. Conceptual writing “prefers not to” engage with the expectations of writing, as it is traditionally defined. Eschewing traditional formulations of literature, conceptual writing, echoing “Bartleby,” consists of works that are unreadable, unsellable, unreviewable and that are ultimately outside of traditional definitions.

Fitterman, with Rob’s Word Shop, was a writer who refused to write. He welcomed the position of ‘scrivener’ preferring to not express any of his own creativity. Instead of accepting commissions for creative writing, Fitterman merely transcribed words at his costumer’s request and charged them for a task they could have easily accomplished without intercession. Ironically, given the sales of poetry (especially that of avant-garde poetry), Fitterman’s Word Shop probably “moved more product” than many poets.

If Rob’s Word Shop is any indication, readers today do not want to purchase poetry; they would rather purchase their own words sold back to them at a profit.

Rob’s Word Shop can be ordered from Brooklyn’s Ugly Duckling Presse.

new from no press: two poems by gary barwin and occupied floor by derek beaulieu. each published in an edition of only 50 copies. $3.50 for both … email derek@housepress.ca to order.

over on twitter, ROB HAYLER (@radiomidwich) is seeking sound responses to one of my poems … you may wish to contribute …

2018 was an incredible year:

It was a thrill to teach as a sessional instructor at the Alberta College of Art + Design (my students there recognized me with 2 teaching awards), Mount Royal University and Wordsworth Summer Camp. That said … In October I stepped away from sessional teaching to take up the position as Director, Literary Arts at Banff Centre — an amazing position. I’m thrilled to be part of the amazing team at Banff Centre and to be of service to artists and writers locally, nationally and internationally.

The culmination of several years’ work, I edited bpNichol’s Nights on Prose Mountain (Toronto: Coach House Books). Nights on Prose Mountain gathers all of bpNichol’s published fiction. While Nichol’s poetry is widely studied, researched and taught, his novels have remained out of print. From the Governor General’s Award-winning “The True Eventual Story of Billy the Kid” through more obscure treasures like Extreme Positions, and including Still, For Jesus Lunatick, and Andy, Nights on Prose Mountain traces Nichol’s life in fiction.

Achill Island, Ireland’s redfoxpress published my latest volume of visual poems, Counter/Weight. Counter/Weight explores the crumbling edifice of letters through aging letraset-based visual poems and the crumbs of punctuation.

Leeds-Beckett University’s Alan Dunn and I released (drowned out by traffic noise): a, A Novel, a CD of ten audio responses to my a, A novel by international sound artists (MP3 here).

This year I have been lucky to have conducted readings and talks at University of North Carolina-Wilmington, University of Calgary, University of Ottawa, Leeds Beckett University, Trinity College – Cambridge and at public events in Banff, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Wilmington. Thank you so much to all of the organizers, hosts, colleagues, friends and audiences with whom I’ve shared these experiences.

I’ve been lucky to have work published in European Review of Poetry, Books and Culture; Alberta College of Art and Design Faculty Association Newsletter; NoD; ToCall; X-peri; Schreibheft and unarmed. I also contributed to 6 different anthologies. My work was featured as the front-cover artwork on Gerald Brun’s Interruptions: The fragmentary aesthetic in Modern Literature (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press) and Max Elibacher’s cassette electronic tape music. I provided the liner notes of Sam Andreyev’s incredible CD Music with no Edges (Austria: Kairos Music).

6 different small press editions of my work were published in 2018: Black Square #1 (Calgary: The Blasted Tree), L’echec de Perec (London: Ma Bibliotheque), Fragmentum (Burlington: Simulacrum), fine and coarse aggregate (California: poems-for-all), Tattered Sails (ottawa: above/ground) and isostatisk landhöjning (Malmö, Sweden: Timglaset). My kursiv #1-7 was published as part of Container‘s 2018 Look Book series. Full size render – a collaboration with Billy Mavreas – was published by Montreal’s Monastiraki; Reply – a collaboration with Petra Schulze-Wollgast – was privately published by Rostock’s Schulze-Wollgast. I continue to place free PDFs of my work online. My artistic work was included in gallery exhibitions in Germany, Halifax, Toronto and Edmonton.

Through No press I published 42 different editions of poetry and prose from international, national and local emerging and established writers. Each edition was meant to help spread the word of risk-taking international writing. Thank you for trusting me with your work.

For my entire tenure as Calgary’s Poet Laureate (2014-2016) I worked with Calgary Arts Development and with representatives from the City of Calgary to create an initiative through which we would name streets and alleys after prominent deceased Calgarian writers. Finally, after years of effort, one single name was accepted by The City of Calgary and Nellie McClung Avenue was unveiled.

None of this would have been possible without my incredible partner, Kristen, and my amazing daughter Maddie. My parents and in-laws have also been a steady voice of support and love; thank you.

In so many ways i only excel because of the strength and support of my community of friends and colleagues especially Greg Betts, Christian Bok, Kit Dobson, Kyle Flemmer, Kenneth Goldsmith, Helen Hajnoczky, Sina Queyras, Jordan Scott and so many others. Thank you.

And thank you to my students and colleagues who always encourage me to listen, to share, to push my practice and my pedagogy. You rock.

Once again, December brings an opportunity to reflect upon the year’s publications. Like previous years, my “most engaging books” list reflects what i found most fascinating / useful / generative. Seek out these volumes, every one will reward the search. Your local, independent, bookstore can help…. This is the cream of the crop for 2018, seriously:

Archer, Sacha. TSK oomph. (Inspiritus)

Bernstein, Charles. Near Miss. (University of Chicago Press)

Brand, Dionne. The Blue Clerk. (Penguin)

Carpenter, J.R. An Ocean of Static. (Penned in the Margins)

Dermisache, Mirtha. Selected Writings. (Ugly Duckling Presse / Siglio)

Dickinson, Adam. Anatomic. (Coach House Books)

Fitterman, Robert. This Window makes me Feel. (Ugly Duckling Presse)

Hussain, Nasser. SKY WRI TEI NGS (Coach House Books)

Mallarme, Stephane. The Book. (Exact Change)

Mathews, Harry. The Solitary Twin. (New Directions)

Montfort, Nick. The Truelist (Counterpath)

Rice, Waubgeshig. Moon of the Crested Snow. (ECW)

Schmaltz. Eric. Surfaces(Invisible)

Zelazo, Suzanne. Lances All Alike. (Coach House Books)

As Calgary’s Poet Laureate (2014-2016) one of my projects was initiating a plan whereby the city would name alleys and streets after deceased Calgarian authors — a means of remembering how writers have helped us understand who we were, who we are, and who we can become.

It was my plan to have this be an ongoing program honouring authors through-out Calgary’s history. While the program was not meant to be, one name was supported by City Hall: Nellie McClung.

Calgary is a city populated with award-winning novelists and poets with international reputations. Writing from Calgary has changed the face of Canadian literature. The citizens of Calgary tend to be unaware of our rich literary past — of the writers who have walked our pathways and lived in our neighbourhoods. With their passing, they fall out of our collective imaginations and back on to our shelves. Their books become silent footnotes to the communities that they helped build, reflect, document and enrich. A city’s literature makes tangible our citizens’ thoughts and concerns, our triumphs and our shame, our small personal reflections and our larger civic discourses. I learn of Calgary and its growth through its literature, through its authors and poets.

McClung is renowned for being a member of the CBC’s first Board of Governors, a delegate to the League of Nations, a renowned public lecturer, women’s rights advocate and a member of the “Famous Five” as advocate for women’s suffrage in the 1928–29 “Persons Case.” McClung’s legacy is not without controversy, as she was also a supporter of Eugenics and forced sterilization. McClung’s legacy is a complicated one, just as any city’s history is fraught with tragedy. As McClung once said, “Why are pencils equipped with erasers if not to correct mistakes?”

In addition to McClung’s well-known efforts – and mixed political legacy – as a social activist, suffragette and politician, she was also on the 1st Board of Governors for the CBC. McClung moved to Calgary in 1923; her home on 15th Avenue SW is a National Historic site (and the current home of the Columbian Consulate) and was recently re-created at Heritage Park.

She is also the little-remembered author of best-selling volumes of fiction and non-fiction that reflected life in Canada’s prairies and the small communities from which so many of our citizens were raised. Her editions included 9 volumes of fiction (Sowing Seeds in Danny (1908); The Second Chance (1910); The Black Creek Stopping House: And Other Stories (1912); Purple Springs. (1922); When Christmas Crossed ‘The Peace’ (1923); Painted Fires (1925, 2014); All We Like Sheep (1926); Be Good to Yourself: A Book of Short Stories (1930) and Flowers for the Living (1931)) and 8 volumes of non-fiction (In Times Like These (1915); The Next of Kin (1917); Three Times and Out: A Canadian Boy’s Experience in Germany (1918); Clearing in the West: My Own Story (1935); Leaves from Lantern Lane (1936); Before They Call … (1937); More Leaves from Lantern Lane (1937); The Stream Runs Fast (1945)). In many ways McClung’s publishing of national best-sellers gave her the social profile to run for public office. McClung died in 1951 in Victoria, B.C.

Nellie McClung Avenue is the only street in Calgary named after an author.

(photo by Shaun Hunter)

mcclung ave

 

NEW from Ma Bibliotheque! L’Echec de Perec by Derek Beaulieu. (28 pages. Edition of 50, signed & numbered, £5.00)
L’Echec de Perec offers a playful visual translation of Georges Perec’s Alphabets (1976), transforming each oulipian poem into a glyph which resembles chessboards and crossword puzzles. Perec’s compositional structure becomes the framework for a new way of writing, treating language as brickwork.

Order your copy of Sam Andreyev’s new CD Music with no Edges … (I wrote the accompanying essay to this fabulous recording)