25 February 2010

In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice At The Edge: A Gathering

February 18, 2010 - February 21, 2010

Prince George Report

Ken Belford and I drove down to this conference at the Banff Center for the Arts. We were headed to Calgary for readings at Mount Royal University and Pages in Kensington and happened to hear about this conference so decided to take it in.

The roads were amazingly clear so driving was easy and chatting with Ken, about everything from types of rivers to poetry composition to cooking techniques, is always a privilege and treat.


The conference’s mission was to “create a context for the demonstration and discussion of cutting-edge literary practice. In a mixture of panels, papers, readings, performances, and more, participants will explore digital literature, interactivity, collaboration, cross-disciplinary work, formal innovation, ‘uncreative’ writing, new modes of dissemination, and literary pedagogy.” It accomplished this in all sorts of ways. I did not connect with all the readings/presentations but could appreciate what many folks were up to. The conference risked becoming a “Boys with Toys” conference with a lack of social engagement. It was disappointing that the conference did not recognize or acknowledge the Nakota-Stoney First Nation and the gathering was very Caucasian by any measure. I do not think this is an accurate reflection of post-avant writing in Canada and the United States. But the work was astounding: from Nick Montford's "ppg" poem producing programs, to Christian Bok's DNA coded poem in a apocalypse-resistant virus, to Jen Bervin's stitch and weaving poetry, to Adeena Karasick's irrepressible and irreverent "I Got a Crush on Osama" video that had the American poets flustered (after she played it, Nick Montford gasped "Holy cow!"). 

Highlights of the conference were readings by Erin Mouré reading from her new book 0 Resplandor,

Larissa Lai reading from Automoton Biographies,

Fred Wah reading from Sentenced to Light,

Wah has a new website with many of his books free in digital format.

Jake Kennedy and his best friend K-Mac talking about their community novel project Death Valley,

and Charles Bernstein reading from his forthcoming book All the Whiskey in Heaven.

Bernstein’s reading was one of the best I have been to in years. He began with a raucous wry reading of “Thank You for Saying Thank You” and ended with the tear-jerking “All the Whiskey in Heaven,” a poem for his daughter Emma Bee Bernstein who passed away last year.

Ken and I went on to read in Calgary. Only challenge: two vegetarian poets on the streets of Calgary on a Sunday night! Luckily we found a magical shisha bar with fabulous fattoush!

More on the conference here

14 February 2010

Josh Massey and the Tree Bomb Band
Cafe Voltaire/Books & Company
Friday, February 26th

04 February 2010

Local artist Phil Morrison and his creative headspace