22 December 2006

the burn

"Poetics is an ethical engagement with the shifting conditions of everyday life."

--Charles Bernstein, "The Poet in the University"

21 December 2006

from Roger Farr's "Surprise, Unpredictability, and Improvisation": An Interview with Fred Wah

Fred Wah: "When I teach creative writing I sometimes say, 'Well, it's a nice poem, but can it make a better world?'"

The Environmental Subject and Oppressive Culturization Practice

Traditional 13 destructive/unjust relationships (in chronological order) to the land:

1) abuser-victim; rage and a will to dominate taken out on an unsuspecting and largely trusting other; wanton destruction of trees and animals with no rationale; a psychotic gain from the pain of others;
2) explorer-adversary; the land made malevolent, perverse, dangerous by the brave and ultimately successful adventurer or tragic hero;
3) spectator-spectacle; a trip to the zoo, an aesthetically pleasing view, watercolour painting from a car; idealized photography;
4) scientist-specimen; a object of the scientific gaze, complete with named categories, an aura of mastery, and cultural bias/blinkers; Eurocentric classification (Linnaeus);
5) controller-controlled; via barriers, boundaries, deterrents, herbicides/pesticides, parks, reserves, population control, the introduction of invader species, etc.; symbolic hedge cutters;
6) user-used; economic opportunism, husbandry, the harvest, agricultural transformation and maintenance; land as avenue to wealth; single-species ecosystems artificially maintained; the road to the good life;
7) desirous-exotic; the mysterious land, wild, romantic, aestheticized, feminized, sexualized;
8) samaritan-pitiful; sympathy, feelings of moral superiority, appeased conscience, token gifts/no shifts in thinking;
9) narrator-stereotype; static images, misinformed myths, useful types/categories, cliché, repetitive scenes, the land as known, stock character;
10) denial-erasure; the city-dweller, the land erased from consciousness; the insulated life; the urban annihilation of natural beings;
11) ‘gone native’-salvation; the ‘wild man’, benevolent/idealized ‘Nature’, always ends badly;
12) politician-obfuscated space; deliberate misinformation, disorder, willful confusion, the evasion of the known for the sake of power;
13) academic-other; knowledge control, authority, identity construction around the mastery of the discourses that stand in for the land; related to 4); see “Environmental Studies” . . .

14 December 2006

It’s Still It’s Still Winter

Barry McKinnon is putting together a new issue of the poetics site It’s Still Winter that has been in hibernation for many years and recently awoken by Greg Lainsbury. The new issue will be devoted to poet Ken Belford and his work. If you would like to contribute to the issue, contact Barry.

07 December 2006

Proposed Anthology

The Writing Tree: Canadian Ecopoetry
Editors Kevin Hutchings and Robert Budde

Writing about the environment involves the construction and contestation over the signs that constitute space, place, nature, and ecologies. The poems collected will question some of the central assumptions of ecocriticism such as the preoccupation with “nature writing,” the predominantly romantic perspective, and the avoidance of issues in cultural ecology and social justice. Ecopoetry recognizes ecological systems and their interdependence across artificial boundaries of natural/social, natural/technological, reality/art, energy/language, etc. It explores the relation between human and nonhuman life, and cultivates skepticism toward the anthropocentric mindset that dominates present-day culture. The anthology will establish a tradition and a movement through that tradition to the present day. Artists making “nature” a strange question that we have yet to answer.

Some of the authors that will be solicited for the collections may include:

Don McKay
Jeannette Armstrong
Tim Lilburn
Jan Zwicky
Louise Halfe
Robert Bringhurst
Daphne Marlatt
Laurie Ricou
Meredith Quartermain
Harold Rhenisch
Sid Marty
Jordan Scott
Ken Belford
Roo Borson
Joe Rosenblatt
Robert Hogg
Christopher Dewdney
Ross Leckie
Jay MillAr
angela rawlings

We would also be looking to reprint poems by such Canadian ecopoetic pioneers as Earle Birney Al Purdy, A.J.M. Smith, Charles G.D. Roberts, and F. R. Scott, and put an open call to writing organizations across Canada. A forward to the collection would summarize the development of ecopoetry and some of the theoretical groundings involved. There is no collection of poetry of this kind in Canada and, given the success and influence of Ecopoetry: A Critical Introduction (edited by J. Scott Bryson), The Eye in the Thicket (edited by Seán Virgo), and Fresh Tracks: Writing the Western Landscape (edited by Pamela Banting), there seems a gap in Canadian letters.

Watch for the open call and suggest any established writers you think should be on the list above.