Wednesday, February 08, 2017

On Writing #122 : Sean Braune

Sean Braune

Writing is a closed system—an autonomous space.

The poet Francis Ponge argues that he admires “writers most of all, because their monument is made of the genuine secretion common to the human mollusk, the thing most proportioned and suited to his body, yet as utterly different from his form as can be imagined: I mean WORDS.”

Words veil our bodies and exhibit our minds.

Words rest upon the landscape and create blizzards.

Speaking and writing are necessarily the result of various processes of selection, permutation, and reassembly.

Speaking and writing are chaotic systems that repeatedly make new chaotic systems.

Therefore, words fall in place like the cogs of a machine or the ways in which leaves collect in patterns on the ground during autumn.

Words permute like blood cells or viruses and they proliferate in our minds—parasites of thought.      

Writing is not a choice—it chooses you.

You can’t run from language.

You can try (I suppose).


“You won’t get far you homo loquens you…”

Even when we are not talking, we are talking.

And the talking postdates an earlier writing—a writing that we are not even conscious of (that constant blather and din that operates in the background). Language is the white noise of consciousness and the general atmosphere from which “selves” and “objects” differentiate themselves as selves or objects.

Therefore, the word “self” selves (Hopkins) itself as a salve for the object’s profound loneliness. For this reason, the word “self” solves the foundational problems of existentialism because it repeatedly resituates itself in relation to the object or Other through a variety of dynamic hierarchies.

This statement is an effect of poststructuralism and certainly we are post-poststructural now, which may perhaps be restructural.

These new structures will be linguistic and they can be captured in writing if we are attuned to the ways in which language is white noise.

We need to engage with language in a langauge. 

We no longer need to write language. We need to measure language.

René Daumal writes that, “although we believe we are addressing a man,” or, I would hope, a human…“it is rather a worm, a pike, a sheep, a wolf to which we are feeding the language that fattens him.” Daumal’s claim—which is certainly ’pataphilological—runs against the linguistic assertions of Abbé Condillac and Rousseau. Language is not the unique invention of human beings. In fact, for Daumal, language is not even spoken for and by humans, but for a variety of other non-human creatures.

Language isn’t ours, but we write it as if it were.

“Ours” lasts hours.

Belonging longs for being.

“To be” being and belonging.

I or you or we or they long for a complete sentence.

The sentence is a sentinel—sometimes frozen.

Freeze the frieze of language.

Stop writing.

Stop writhing.

Op on wry things.

Operate and eat the “E” at the “he.”

Get past pronouns—we don’t need them.

Get past the passed participle—we don’t need it.

Only the presence of Gertrude Stein, or was it the present?

Writing is (a) present.

Even when passed or past.

(The last sentence was incorrect).

The writing should stop, but even when it stops it does not stop.


We’ll be getting here.

To writing.

This is a message to writing.

A writhing.

A writing that is arriving.

Sketch out the shore.

Carve out the waterline.

Right it down.

Own it.


As knowledge.

The edge of know.


Sean Braune’s theoretical work has been published in Postmodern Culture, Journal of Modern Literature, Canadian Literature, symplokē, and elsewhere. His poetry has appeared in ditch, The Puritan, Rampike, Poetry is Dead, and elsewhere. His first chapbook, the vitamins of an alphabet, appeared in 2016 with above/ground press.     

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

We Who Are About To Die : Maria Damon

Maria Damon teaches in the Humanities and Media Studies Department at Pratt Institute of Art. She is the author of two books of poetry scholarship (Dark End of the Street: Margins in American Vanguard Poetry and Postliterary "America": From Bagel Shop Jazz to Micropoetries); co-author (with mIEKAL aND and Jukka-Pekka Kervinen) of several books of poetry; author of two chapbooks of cross-stitch visual poetry; and co-editor (with Ira Livingston) of Poetry and Cultural Studies: A Reader.

Where are you now?
Lying on my bed. When I first got this email, I was lying on the bed in rm 402 of the Madison Hotel, Morristown NJ.

What are you reading?
I am reading this email, and my own responses as they appear on the screen. In rl i've been reading Anne Waldman's Voice's Daughter of a Heart Yet to Be Born for a paper I delivered yesterday. Otherwise I've been slowly working my way through Nathaniel Mackey's beautiful Black Ocean book, Lay Ghost.

What have you discovered lately?
Diced fennel in turkey soup tastes really good, surprisingly.

Where do you write?
Usually at cafés.

What are you working on?
A collaboration with Alan Sondheim and Adeena Karasick, both of whom I've collaborated with individually.

Have you anything forthcoming?
An essay on "Micropoetries" with the online Oxford Research Encyclopedia.

What would you rather be doing?
Eating a great meal with dear friends.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

La Ville d’Ottawa et VERSE OTTAWA instaurent un programme de poètes lauréats / The City of Ottawa and VERSE OTTAWA establish a poet laureate program


La Ville d’Ottawa et VERSE OTTAWA instaurent un programme de poètes lauréats / The City of Ottawa and VERSE OTTAWA establish a poet laureate program

Ottawa, 31 janvier 2017 – VERSE OTTAWA qui est responsable depuis sept ans de l’organisation du VERSEFest – Festival international et bilingue de poésie à Ottawa – annonce qu’elle a conclu une entente pour l’achat de ses services par la Ville d’Ottawa, en vue de la mise en œuvre d’un programme de « poètes lauréats ». En effet, à partir de 2017 VERSE OTTAWA gérera le processus de nomination des poètes francophone et anglophone et supervisera les activités que proposeront les poètes désignés. Ainsi, la Ville d’Ottawa pourra compter sur deux poètes de renom qui seront désignés pour un mandat de deux ans. À ce titre et forts de leurs écrits, ces poètes se feront ambassadeurs de l’art de la poésie ici à Ottawa et partout où ils seront appelés à prendre la parole ; gardant au cœur de leurs préoccupations trois grands aspects des programmes de poète lauréat : nation, population et art.

Financé à hauteur de vingt-cinq mille dollars par année, le programme permettra d’octroyer des honoraires annuels de cinq mille dollars à chacun des poètes. Les sommes restantes couvriront les activités proposées par les poètes sélectionnés ainsi que les frais d’administration du programme.

Les comités francophone et anglophone, qui sont responsables de la désignation des poètes lauréats, sont mis sur pied par VERSE OTTAWA. Le dévoilement des poètes lauréats devrait se faire tous les deux, ans à partir de 2017, lors du festival VERSEfest, dont la prochaine édition se tiendra à Ottawa du 21 au 26 mars 2017 (

Rappelons que la Ville d’Ottawa a été dotée d’un programme de poète-lauréat unilingue anglophone de 1982 à 1990. En 2012, le Conseil municipal d’Ottawa a approuvé un plan culturel sur six ans (2013-2018) comprenant un nouveau programme de poète lauréat. Depuis, le comité de pilotage pour le renouvellement du Plan pour la culture a recommandé la mise en place parallèle de deux poètes lauréats pour Ottawa – un francophone et un anglophone.

Yves Turbide, président de VERSE OTTAWA 613-744-0902 •

Ottawa, January 31st, 2017 – VERSE OTTAWA, which is responsible for the organization of VERSEfest – a bilingual and international poetry festival in Ottawa – announces that the City of Ottawa has reached an agreement to purchase the services of VERSE OTTAWA to facilitate a “poet laureate” program. Starting in 2017, VERSE OTTAWA will manage the nomination process of Francophone and Anglophone poets and supervise the activities that will be suggested by the designated poets. This way, the City of Ottawa will be able to count on two renowned poets who will be designated for a two year mandate. With this title and their writings, the two poets will act as ambassadors of poetry here in Ottawa and anywhere they are asked to speak. At the heart of their concerns, they will keep three important facets of the poet laureate program: nation, population and art.

Financed up to a maximum of twenty-five thousand dollars per year, the program will offer an honorarium of five thousand dollars to each poet. The remaining money will cover activities proposed by the selected poets and the administrative costs of the program.

The Francophone and Anglophone committees responsible for the designation of the poet laureates will be created by VERSE OTTAWA. The announcement of the selected poet laureates should take place every two years, starting in 2017, during VERSEfest which will take place in Ottawa between March 21st and 26th, 2017 (

Let’s be reminded that the City of Ottawa had a unilingual poet laureate program between 1982 and 1990. In 2012, the city council of Ottawa approved a new six year cultural policy (2013-2018) that included a new poet laureate program. Since then, the steering committee for the renewal of the cultural policy has recommended establishing two parallel poet laureates for Ottawa – one Francophone and one Anglophone.

For more information:
Yves Turbide, president of VERSE OTTAWA 613-744-0902 •

Thursday, January 26, 2017

On Writing #121 : Jennifer Baker

On Writing
Jennifer Baker 
Took years                   to fracture
                       this strata        fear of being looked over


trust     out on a limb              
turns lens         on memory's ossuaries

in the bush    where we  tapped trees              the pond my grandfather called          bottomless
its mirror          cradled canopy sway       its silted bottom a warning

once you start swimming                     you have to keep treading forever

drowning     open-mouthed     we tell


one of the men                       
hauled me back           into our tree   
scraped against             street-glow     in public 
petrified          I dropped my Coke

my first thought          my body is against the law

scraped against                        hard light
                                                tell them you're 18
                                    I got you out
scraped      up   worldly
                        over chasm      when the bough

traitor foliage 
                        tricked cover for quiet
                                    night's wide  electrified itch  

now he concedes                     I was the smart one despite his assumptions           at the time                 
I wonder what they were


entire fields     leap skyward

enormous turbine blades rotate     this process
             down     backroad     powerlines

silence is
            the mirror-space between self & self
                         twinned in      repulsion & longing


I don't know why I'd tell
when explanation        fakes out         shelter             

except that justice       is a scrutiny     we step into
& my heels are still dirty
from digging in

bullish between           vulnerability | erasure   
                                              witness | voyeur
                                                 wink & a no  

Jennifer Baker lives, writes, and teaches in Ottawa. Her first chapbook, Abject Lessons, was published by above/ground press in 2014. Her poetry, interviews, and reviews have been published in The Journal of Canadian Poetry, Ottawater, Dusie, The Bird, Philomela, and Illiterissuesixature, with a forthcoming review in The Bull Calf.