Michael Turner / Monads, Lines and Smudges


“Everybody should do geometry,” writes Lisa Robertson in the epigram that kicks off the current issue. As nice as this sounds, I am unsure whether to leave it at that or to suggest that everybody does geometry whether they know it or not. After all, what am I doing when walking down Granville Street and turning right at Broadway but re-inscribing the 90-degree turn that urban planners expected of me when they laid out this city years ago. Had Lisa said, Everybody should do parkour, I might still be making 90-degree turns, but at least I could consider my options.

Ah, but we are living in age of constraint, as Karl Seigler pointed out so nicely when he presided over his last Talon book launch in the late-oughts, and this of course accounts for its own poetry. Not so much Lisa’s work, but the work of Christian Bök, who took Georges Perec’s 1969 A Void (en anglais) and turned it into a party piece (Eunonia) 32 years later.

Geometry is the theme of the current issue, and we see it in unexpected places, such as the opening interview, which, in effect, is a performance of two monads — where one moves towards the other in an attempt to form a dyad, while the other resists. But more so deeper in the issue, with projects like Ruth Scheuing’s GPS drawings of her walks, a project that brings to mind the first short novel in Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy (1987) — City of Glass (first published in 1985 by Sun & Moon Press); and later with Lyndl Hall, who reminds us in “Point, Line and Plane” that “[p]oints gather into lines, project into planes, and emanate out of instruments of delineation: pencil, sundial, compass, sextant, etc.” Here, I find myself saying the words “sextant” and “et cetera” out loud, and more than once, smiling its poetry.

The issue concludes with a new section, “See to See — “, where writers and visual artists contribute small texts of approximately 500 words, texts that might not have seen the light of day if not for this format. In “In Defense of Lost Causes”, Clint Burnham divides the “David Gilmore scandal” (“I am not interested in teaching books by women”) into two issues: “one institutional, one pedagogical.” Another, by Tracy Stefanucci, introduces readers to The Project Space, a non-profit publication site “[s]ituated at the intersection of disciplines — namely the visual arts, literary arts and/or graphic design.” In the middle of the section, Rebecca Brewer and Tiziana La Melia’s “CAPILANO STYLE COLUMN: Not-poetry in Vancouver Or Admonishments On What to Wear and, Sometimes, the Special Occasion On Which to Wear It…”, which includes readings of Charles Atlas’s Hail the New Puritans (1986) and Dan Starling’s remarkable mid-length video The Kidnapper’s Opera (2013), before dissolving into a “Just Missed” and “Don’t Miss” palimpsest.

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