More Bite Than Bark Since 2005
Monthly archive October, 2009

Overheard quote of the week

I don’t know, you’d be surprised. Sometimes a fossil is younger than you are.

Comments, who owns comments?

Who owns comments on a blog? Or what is fair use? As some of you may know, a book of selected blog posts from this blog is forthcoming from BookThug. The process of creating the text was intriguing–more complicated than I expected. And what precedent is there for turning a literary blog into a book?...


The day the blood came I was covered in gravel. Sandy in my ears and eyes, all under my jeans where the cuffs rub. Slay and I climbed the rock mounds in the concrete factory and surfed down on cardboard. We got in under the gate where the dogs are chained. Slay threw a bone–not...

Seamus Heaney

What the lyric do: Need I say, well?

Blogs of note

Rachel Zolf’s Tolerance Project. Hilarious and pointed account of the typical MFA workshop. Zolf has entered one, in protest really, and has cleverly crafted a conceptual poetry project around the experience. Kathryn Mockler is gathering fabulous materials for those coming to poetry, or those who need a little direction. I guess if you’re Margaret Atwood...

Strange & Wondrous


As if the wind could lift story. In the night, very late, a dark hoop around a waistline. She peered in. Not unpleasant. History licking up at her. Not with handles though. No instruction. They come at her, quite insistent, as if waiting for communion, their tongues out, awaiting it, the instruction. No, she admonishes,...

Sylvia Plath

That great New England Growl: cashmere and…well Plath’s birthday. The video isn’t great, but the reading is…


Well for one it’s because the avant-garde always has more fun creating the work than its readers do reading it… In fact it is this sheer attention to joy that should make others suspicious. After all poetry lives in the frayed ends of ropes and lashes while on bent knees–my father preferred to use bricks...

Autobiographical novel

A novel in which the author claims to be telling the real and true account of their life. Usually of interest only when hyphenated by such things as a crack, gambling, or sex addiction, or any of several forms of abuse–although the more graphic (but not disturbingly graphic), the better. If you have had a...

Chris Rock: Nicely Done

What is your def of good hair?

For those of you

who are not out dancing tonight…there is, somewhere in the galaxy, a groove going on. Thanks Vanessa

Paul Durcan listening to Christian Bok

Variousness in readings, that’s what interests me. Not four lyric poets all in a row, or four sound poets, or four poets writing the very same angle–unless they’re really, really writing the same angle. Nice to read with Paul Durcan and Christian Bok last night, and Mr. Morton, whom I had not met. Very different...


Is there a pulse? A group of mid-afternoon shoppers, bags offering liberal padding between hip and hip, crowded around the body–is it a body? Yes, it’s a body, black blood pooling at the wrist and behind the ears, a body, or something resembling a body. There’s been an accident, someone said. Two mothers leashed their...

Poetry Cabaret

Thursday, October 22, 2009Coach House poets Sina Queyras (Expressway, Lemon Hound) and Christian Bök (Eunoia, Crystallography) will be joined by Colin Morton (The Hundred Cuts) and Paul Durcan (The Laughter of Mothers) for an evening at the Ottawa International Writers Festival. This event will be hosted by Rob Winger. Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts...


While she waited the ceiling swelled and swayed under the weight of something that seemed equally to press down on her and out from her. She imagined Bishop’s Fish, its skin “packed in like feathers.” She imagined pomegranites inside out and writhing beneath the neighbor’s floorboards. She imagined, for some reason, thousands of tennis balls,...


The new archetype: or the women of the avant-garde. She her self and her shadow took their anima and animus and persona down to the verse trough wherein they slashed, collaged and knit slutty lyrics with uptight dialog and, well, general mayhem ensues. see also: Ubu web

Writers Read at Concordia

WRITERS READ AT CONCORDIA presents a reading by GEORGE SAUNDERS Friday, 23 October 2009 7:30 pm De Sève Cinema J.W. McConnell / Library Building 1400 de Maisonneuve Boulevard West Concordia University One of the most successful writers of recent times, George Saunders has published three volumes of short fiction, an illustrated novella, two children’s books,...

Stage Door, 1937

Who isn’t in this movie?Fabulous, fabulous.


You might think this is simply a grammatical symbol for omitted letters, or a way to mark ownership and relationship which in itself is a neat trick. You might also think it’s a book (and a site) designed/conceived by Toronto Wunderkinds Bill Kennedy and Darren Wershler. You might also think that it refers to an...

Tonight, Montreal Coach House is up to no good

Coach House / Snare Books Montreal LaunchSunday, October 18, 2009 8:00pm featuring readings by David Derry, Sarah Dowling, Ian Christopher Goodman, Kate Hall, Susan Holbrook, Kim Minkus, Jeff Parker and Sina QueyrasThe Green Room, 5386 Blvd. St-LaurentMontreal, QC

why collaborative texts are more good than non-collaborative

From a piece in the New York Times last week about “How Nonsense Sharpens the Intellect,” in which the author offers statistics that support a fact long argued by poets, that disjunction as found in poets as diverse as Emily Dickinson, Lewis Carroll, Rae Armantrout and Erin Moure, is actually a very useful poetic, that...

Harriet’s ongoingness and new blogs

Excellent line up at Harriet including Anselm Berrigan–great post yesterday which was more like a prose poem than a prose post, and lovely. I have yet to read Berrigan’s new book, but I look forward, and it was great to see him on the cover of Poets and Writers Magazine last month. He has a...

Having a Coke with You

A certain era, a certain delivery, a way of making smoking look so benign

1983 was a strange and beautiful year

Strange new moment, Aids was still a whisper, David Bowie was making his move into movies, David Sylvian was there (where is he now?),As was Annie Lennox,and Steve JobsSo was the threat of nuclear annihlation. In fact this was the year many of us saw Helen Caldicott’s film, released in 1982. The film was so...

Robert Smithson

on Spiral Jetty

Early Email

That would be Electronic Mail.

Wild is the wind

Three versions, impossible to choose…CatNinaOr play them all at once. Happy Thanksgiving.

the Jean Genie

Oh David, how you transform for us

Broken Social Scene

Capture the flag

Why poetry matters

Poetry creates nothing, but it might help us break down lazy thinking. More on how nonsense helps sharpen brain function, or why poetry must be more than a confession: When those patterns break down — as when a hiker stumbles across an easy chair sitting deep in the woods, as if dropped from the sky...

I’m still your fag

Just found this again…

Very minor f yous

Poetry showed up in black leather, creaking and swaying, and generally throwing its weight around…


Would the word be more interesting if it was pronounced like synecdoche?  Like conceptual writing the anecdote is often given short shrift, under-valued in literature, where some of the best moments are such asides, the anecdote that makes the reader meander. Relegated to the gutter of newspaper and magazine filler (like poetry?) the anecdote is...

Dueling Influences

In which, well, it’s sort of self-explanatory really. As far as I know that’s the only recording of Woolf. There are a few others of Stein.

best use of whistle

in a film?

My Montreal: Parc Lafontaine

Summer, video number 2


Allegory, what is allegory? This is a contentious point, and not only in relation to conceptual writing which is currently being touted as the new charlatanism. The new old. Poetry might also be thought of as the new charlatanism. If the sonnet is new, or if oulipo is new, or if short fiction is new,...

Gilbert & George

Gilbert & George. The Tuileries. 1974. Like the modernists, the conceptualists tend to literalize things, make art functional even as it tends toward the “uncreative,” “unsoothing,” and “unconsumable.” And of course, it’s stylish. The above room one of the creations of Gilbert & George, whom would certainly be great dinner party guests, though probably better...

I’m not a conceptual writer, but I feel like one

Christine Wertheim, myself (attempting to shrink), Kim Rosenfield and Vanessa Place. Nada Gordon is taking the photo, which I tweaked a little, Nada, hope you don’t mind. For a report on our panel, see Nada’s blog. There are several reports of the conference itself, which was really great, and a reminder that we don’t get...


All writers are aliens. This is what your mother warned you about. That is if you had the kind of mother who warned you about such things. There are mothers who warn about other things, such as the suburbs, marriage, domesticity, nursing school, as if they were pods thick with ooze and entrapment. These are...

Video du jour

Patti Smith reads Woolf


tag und

First efforts…with video


The reason isn’t aim, though it may be aimlessness. Sometimes the plot reveals itself to be a series of gestures, each one less exact than the one before. No promises, no hooks, nothing to navigate your way through, or so it seems; the bark of trees a long directive howl.

If poetry does nothing, neither does design, or architecture

Rem Koolhaas on sustainability. I offer an excerpt here: Against this backdrop came the first Club of Rome meeting, which talked about the limits of growth (15). It was a reasonable and dramatically illustrated argument about the limits of resources, and showed how in the next hundred years we have to be more careful and...


Think of the most unbelievable person you have ever met: leap tall buildings, check, eat charred rattle snake, check, go without sleep for seventy-two hours and still look dashing, check. Now think of something they love very much. Usually this is a woman though sometimes it can be their country, or humanity, or the planet,...

Winnie, Happy Days

Beginning, Act 2.Winnie imbedded up to neck, hat on head, eyes closed. Her head, which she can no longer turn, nor bow, nor raise, faces front motionless throughout act. Movements of eyes as indicated. Bag and parasol as before. Revolver conspicuous to her right on mound. Long pause. Bell rings loudly. She opens her eyes at once. Bell...


Most often refers to the elusive and mythic advance offered an author for a work, usually of prose, or some variety of prose (memoir, novel, biography), involving large-print editions. Apparently the average advance is approximately $100,000 dollars, one third of that in Canada. This is approximately the cost of a good MFA program. Consider the...