Tag Archives: visual poetry

Two Houseplants, from above nanopamphlet

Hi everyone,

They’re here! I’ve been waiting for my batch of nanopamphlets to arrive in the mail from Penteract Press over in the UK, and I was delighted to find this bundle waiting in my mailbox (along with a few samples of the press’s many other visual, formal, and constrained poetic projects). Two Houseplants, from above is what the press terms a “nanopamphlet” (which means it’s really tiny) containing two small pieces from a series of visual poems depicting my houseplants, from above. I’ve been working on the series for a long time, but it’s incredibly refreshing to see it materialize in such a beautiful and well-thought-out form. My sincere thanks go out to Penteract for accepting the piece–and doing wonders with it.





I only found out about Penteract rather recently, and I’m actually a little sad to hear that they’re transitioning into a small press from a micropress–mostly because it means they’ll no longer be publishing the leaflets and nanopamphlets that have been their hallmark for some time. Still, I wish them the best with their mission to continue raising the profile of experimental visual and formal poetry through book-length publications. In the meantime, I have a whole whack of nanopamphlets to give away, so make sure you ask for one if you run into me!

As always, happy reading. And happy seeing, too!


Tagged , , , , ,

the ratio of an earthworm

Hi all,

I hope everyone’s coming to terms with our descent into fall. I’m sill on a bit of a high after my reading at Shab-e She’r last week, and I wanted to take the chance to celebrate another event from last month.

Back at the beginning of September, artists/curators/friends Larissa Tiggelers and Patrick Cruz were generous enough to include some of my verse and visual poetry in their outdoor art exhibition and gathering, the ratio of an earthworm. The poems include “Exit,” one of the many I’ve written for my houseplants, and some visual pieces depicting my houseplants from above. It’s difficult to tell in the photographs, but these really look fantastic, especially insofar as they’ve been incorporated into the physical environment of the backyard. Being someone whose work is normally only reproduced on paper and computer screens, it blew me away to see my text integrated with the dimensions of concrete space and light.

Many thanks to Larissa for these photographs, and to Hiba Abdallah (another fabulous artist/friend) for helping with the installation!




Although I won’t post any more pictures here, I think it’s also worth highlighting how much I enjoyed the exhibition/gathering itself. To my understanding, Larissa and Patrick imagined the ratio of an earthworm as a chance for artists to show their work in a one-day, no-strings-attached celebration of creativity and community, without the hassle of dealing with the fine art institution. In this pursuit, they absolutely succeeded. Perhaps more importantly, though, I was overwhelmed by the experience of seeing everyone’s art (and there was a lot of it) in a garden setting that integrated each piece with the earth and plant life in its environs. Having that kind of aesthetic experience in a setting that differed intensely from the conventional white cube opened my eyes to the truly innumerable ways art can impact the mind and soul.

If any of this interests you, Larissa also produced an excellent exhibition text for the event that you should check out; you can find it on her website here. Hopefully, there will be more events like this in the months and years to come!


Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

The Toronto Zine Off and Epistolary Shapes

Hey all,

I had to post a little bit about the fabulous first (with hopefully more to come) Toronto Zine Off, which I attended last night at The Steady (a well loved venue that will unfortunately be closing at the end of the month–it will be missed!). Organized, in part, by friend and fellow poet JM Francheteau on the model of his Ottawa zine offs, the event was intended as a deadline to create a new zine to trade with fellow zine makers. In short, I took up the challenge, had a blast, and came home with a bunch of zines to thumb through! I’d say the night was quite a success, and I’m looking forward to follow-ups being announced on the new Toronto Zine Off facebook group.


Here’s my and Miles Forrester’s zine, Epistolary Shapes, next to some promo copies of Carousel generously provided by Mark Laliberte:


And here’s JM’s photo of all the zines he collected last night (my haul was pretty much the same):


Epistolary Shapes came out of a collaborative project Miles and I started this past summer, before he moved out to Montreal to study at Concordia. The two of us wrote short poems by responding to each other line by line, ensuring each line fit a pre-established length constraint. Although we had always had the intention of transforming the resulting source texts into visual pieces, it took the zine off to finally push us into realizing our vision: after a marathon bout of editing and visualization (all of the final products were put together over about 24 hours), we came up with eight visual poems for the zine. Here are two:


Overall, the past few days have been a pretty exciting way to jump back into zine culture. It’s been a while since I did anything more than gawk at all the tables at Canzine (which I’m not even sure I’ll get to do this year, with IFOA events looming large on my schedule), but last night really reminded me that it’s zine people who make zines such a valuable part of culture. I met and chatted with a lot of fine folks last night, from old friends to new, and I hope to see more of them soon!


Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Peripheral Review Instagram residency, June 26 – July 1

Hi all,

I’d like to take a moment to announce something I’m pretty excited about this week: Lauren Lavery (artist, art critic, editor, &, collective poet, exemplary human) has been kind enough to invite me to do an Instagram residency with Peripheral Review, which means I’ll be stocking the publication’s Instagram feed with whatever I desire for the next six days. I feel especially honoured to be invited, since Peripheral Review‘s network runs mostly through the visual arts, and most of the folks who have done the residency are legit artists. So, I’ve chosen to take the invitation as a kind of provocation, to see how and how well the work I’ve done with visual and experimental poetry fits in the art world. I’ll be bringing my best (including new works in progress, some old projects, and other relevant things I stumble across during the week), so you should definitely give the Peripheral Review Instagram a follow and stay tuned for more of my posts!



I should point out that Peripheral Review itself is a pretty awesome endeavour, existing mostly online but also in a (beautiful) print anthology that recently made its way to the Vancouver Photo Book Fair. The publication includes reviews of art exhibitions and other art events with a special focus on creative approaches to criticism; they even encourage ‘reviewers’ to respond to artwork with their own artwork, including poetry, sound, and visual forms. It’s a great place to check out if you’re looking for some innovative and in-depth engagements with the Canadian art scene.


Tagged , , , , ,

&, 2 and XAGGERA launches this week!

The very tail end of this week will be a pretty big one for me! First up, this Thursday I and the other amazing members of Guelph’s &, collective will be launching the collective’s second chap/book, this happened to one of us. The book’s been in the works for a while, and I think it’s pretty exciting: the project came from writing and workshopping we did together around the theme of confessional poetry, where one of us would come up with a confessional-style prompt and everyone else in the group would write a poem as if they’d actually had that experience themselves. The result is a bunch of poems about things like getting a flat tire, cheap motels, drunken teenage birthday parties, coffee dates, and (of course) sex. We’ll even be filling up this week’s launch with prizes for audience members who correctly guess which poet actually wrote the prompt for each set. Several of us in the collective have been working with Publication Studio Guelph to plan the launch and actually make our own books (see photo evidence below), and the book layout (wickedly designed by yours truly) also includes illustrations by the Guelph-based artist group SADSADDERDAZE, which will be hand-coloured for the launch editions–so, the whole thing definitely feels like a community effort. Which is why you should come celebrate with us: 7pm at Boarding House Arts (6 Dublin St. South) this Thursday, September 29! Check out the facebook event. Or look for the book (which, as per PS’s amazing distribution model, promises to be pretty damn cheap) over at the PS web store.




Second, and the very next day, I’ll be hanging out with David Knight and friends of Fenylalanine Publishing and Ed Video to celebrate Ed Video’s 40th anniversary and launch FP’s new art magazine, XAGGERA (which will be on sale for $10 a copy). I’m definitely not as in-the-know about this project, but a quick look at the event’s facebook page promises a series of probably insane visuals and music that’ll be nowhere close to ordinary. I can also let you in on the fact that my contribution to the magazine is a bizarre pseudo-advertisement for the special erasure/asemic font I created for The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-analysis: A Selection, which I’ve been uploading in parts over at my new instagram account. In short, the magazine is something to watch out for. And if you’re up for something on the weirder side of normal, come join us at the ANAF Club (32 Gordon St.), 9:15pm this Friday, September 30.


Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Group Huddle reading and chapbook

Hi all,

I’ve been fairly busy these last few weeks travelling through various parts of the planet, although most recently I’ve been hanging out at Cornell University in upstate New York. Nonetheless, I wanted to take a minute to highlight the newly founded Group Huddle reading at Topos bookstore cafe in Queens, New York, which I performed at last Thursday. At the invitation of the incomparably generous Parker Menzimer, I had the opportunity to read from Players alongside Madeleine Braun, Michael Anzuoni, and Tom Haviv, all of whom have been working on some incredibly fresh and urgent writing. I really can’t do justice to how thankful I am: it was a great room full of great people, and there was plenty of enlightening conversation afterwards. I should thank Zane Koss especially, both for his irreplaceable help setting up the reading (even though he’d never met me before!) and for being such a generous host in Brooklyn.

As if all this wasn’t enough, I also managed to take home a souvenir from the reading: a limited edition chapbook featuring work from all four of the evening’s presenters. I especially love the design on the cover, and the use of translucent paper (something I’ve dabbled with quite a bit). Moreover, I was pretty excited to have the opportunity to include a small excerpt from a visual/conceptual project I’ve been working on since last fall: a re-setting of Jacques Lacan’s The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-analysis using a custom font composed of partially erased letters. Overall, I also love the idea of creating limited edition printed ephemera for a reading…not only because I’ll jump at any opportunity to make a chapbook, but because it showcases an otherwise inaccessible visual and spatial dimension of the readers’ work without sacrificing the particular spirit and energy of the reading-as-event. The format definitely gives me some ideas for the future.

In any case, the chapbook also looks spectacular (this picture isn’t mine, though it’s probably better than any I would have taken).


Group Huddle 4


Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

O Our Ism erasures/artist’s book now available on the Publications page!

Hi everyone,

Presenting some of my work at the fabulous Facilitate event Seeing Poetry last week inspired me to make one of my major visual poetic projects more readily available online. Different forms of O Our Ism have accompanied me through much of my development as a writer: after completing the first few entries of the project for a class assignment in third year (specifically, in my poetry class with the wonderful David Goldstein), I went on to print further spreads as glossy, broadsheet-style posters, many of which are now in the hands or on the walls of poetically-minded friends and acquaintances. Finally, last summer, I compiled the pages into an artist’s book designed to mimic the source material in size and layout (although, admittedly, not thickness). Over the past few years I have brought versions of the project to countless readings and assembled parts of it into wall displays for exhibitions such as the T E X T ual A R T ivity show in Coburg, Ontario this spring.

For reference, I’ve included below a brief note that accompanied O Our Ism on the walls of The Academy of the Impossible during the latter’s brief stay at 231 Wallace Avenue in Toronto. You can access my complete pdf e-book of the project here, or by finding it near the top of the Publications page. Of course, you can also get in touch with me to look at (or potentially own) a physical copy of the book–it’s quite striking in person!

A note on the work:

O Our Ism is a series of erasures developed out of two-page spreads from the book Photojournalism, edited by Nick Yapp and Amanda Hopkinson and published by Könemann (2006) using photographs from Getty Images. The book’s original captions, which provide the textual source for the erasures, appear in English, French and German. O Our Ism is a realistically endless project, as its source material will only be exhausted once its nearly 400 spreads are rendered into poems.





Tagged , , , , , ,

Visual poetry and performance at Facilitate Presents: Seeing Poetry

Hi everyone!

I’ve been traveling lately, and so I’ve been a bit lax with my promoting game, but I’m nonetheless overjoyed to announce my participation in an event just days away! This Monday night, the wonderful folks at Facilitate will host Seeing Poetry, the second in a promising lineup of performance nights that kicked off last month. I’ll be performing as one of the featured presenters alongside highly-recommended friends Miles Forrester, Jay Gobuty, and Eric Schmaltz, and probably-awesome people I haven’t met Kasia Smuga and Katarina Mücke. The event takes place Monday July 13 at 7:30pm at No One Writers to the Colonel, 460 College St, and you can check out the Facebook page here.

Facilitate’s events are vaguely poetry readings, but Monday’s event especially will feature a wide variety of artistic media including sound, video, discussion, and all kinds of label-bending happenings whose generic aftermaths I can’t even begin to predict. For my own part, I’ll be presenting visual pieces including chapbooks and a poetic card game between performances. I’ll let my plans for my own set remain a bit of a mystery…however, after randomly running into Facilitate facilitator Joe Ianni today and chatting about them at length, I’m looking forward to some unique and exciting results.

See you there!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

A few more photos from T E X T ual A R T ivity

Hi all,

This post is several weeks delayed, but since the T E X T ual A R T ivity exhibition in Coburg, Ontario had already been over for some time when I received the prompt to write it, I figured some final documentation of my role in the exhibition wouldn’t be urgent.

I’ve already spoken in detail about T E X T ual A R T ivity and the amazing people who run it in a previous post. Since my first visit to the show, however, I’ve gotten word of some significant changes to the presentation of some of my pieces that I think is worth sharing. Based on suggestions from attendees of the exhibition last month, James Pickersgill took the initiative to reframe two pieces I’d printed on translucent paper, “Space” and “Spring Mattress,” and hang them as a window display viewable from either inside or outside The Human Bean cafe, where the exhibition was held. Some photographs are included below. (You can also see/read “Space” at high resolution at Angel House Press’s National Poetry Month 2015 blog here.)

In short, I think James’s is a spectacular presentation that amplifies the themes and energy of the pieces, while also taking their execution much farther than I had imagined. On this latter point, I’ve found that my experience submitting these artworks to the show (and witnessing the creative efforts of Poetry in Coburg Spaces and especially James, who deserves at least co-authorship for the “poems” displayed here) has exemplified the strength of collaboration in poetic and artistic work. It’s worth noting, too, that such collaborative efforts are especially important in genres (or perhaps they’re more like dispersed social experiments) like concrete poetry that demand critical attention from a multiplicity of contexts including semantic language and poetics, visual aesthetics, and institutional presentation. At the same time, collaborations like these are by no means hampered by separations in space, time, and creative vision (at least not by necessity). In fact, what I’ve seen this past month suggests that such separations may in fact bolster the motivation for and results of artistic collaboration.


“Space” and “Spring Mattress” in the front window of The Human Bean:

John's 2 pieces installed in the front window of The Human Bean - from outside c


“Space” from inside and outside:

Space - John's piece installed in the front window - close-up from inside The Human Bean (2)

Space - John's piece installed in the front window of The Human Bean - from outside b


“Spring Mattress” from inside and outside:

Spring Mattress - John's piece installed in the front window - close-up from inside The Human Bean

Spring Mattress - John's piece installed in the front window of The Human Bean - from outside

(photos courtesy of James Pickersgill)

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

“Space” on NationalPoetryMonth.ca

Hi everyone,

I’ve had the opportunity to post lots of updates about my visual poetry lately–it seems like National Poetry Month has really brought it into the spotlight! This time, I’m happy to announce that my visual/conceptual poem/paper object “Space” has just appeared on Angel House Press’s NationalPoetryMonth.ca as today’s installment of their month-long celebration of visual poetry. The website will feature a new vispo image by a different artist for every day in April, so you can keep checking back throughout the month for more (along with browsing the images that have already been posted). You can also access a permanent link (well, at least until National Poetry Month arrives again next year) to my piece here.

A brief note on the piece: “Space” includes text appropriated from the first few pages of the “Space” chapter of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception. Parts of the text are printed on three pages of translucent vellum paper; the rest of the piece is composed of cardstock and bookbinding thread.

Thanks for reading!

Tagged , , , , ,