more Alternative Poetics
Christian Bök (b. 1966)
Born in Toronto, Bök now resides in Calgary where he is a professor in the University of
Calgary’s English Department. He received his PhD from York University after
completing his BA and MA at Carleton.
He has worked with Paul Dutton and Steve McCaffrey, two of the Four Horsemen, and as
he notes in his discussion with the PennSound students and Charles Bernstein, he is one
of few contemporary sound poets to have learned this older repertoire. He has also
written a book on “the poetics of an imaginary science” Pataphysics and an invented
language for Gene Rodenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict in addition to poetry. Obviously
his interests lie in invention, science and language. Part of both Pataphysics and
Chrystallography engage in using pseudo-science, or the language of science, to defend
his poetic experimentation. In “Virtually Nontoxic” he writes, has not the act of writing
simply become another complex polymer by stringing together syllables instead of
molecules?” and suggests we need explosive innovation to reinvigorate poetry.
Eunoia is a “constraint-based” book of poetry, involving seven years of effort after
reading the dictionary five times for material. Each chapter uses only one vowel with
four scenarios for thematic consistency: the culinary banquet, the prurient debauch, the
pastoral tableau, and the nautical voyage. All of the chapters discuss writing, albeit not
the writing of the chapters themselves.
Bök has claimed that his poetry is not elitist. Is his claim as strong as Nichol’s? What do
you think and why?
Lillian Allen (b. 1951)
Lillian Allen is a writer who moves easily from one artistic discipline to another,
emerging with new work transformed and transforming. Allen moved from
Spanish Town, Jamaica, to North America in 1969. She studied at the City
University of New York, and has a B.A. from York University in Toronto. She
is a leading exponent of dub poetry, a highly politicized form of poetry that has
been set to music, including jazz, reggae, rock, and more. She has spent over a
decade writing, publishing, and performing her work in Canada, the U.S. and
Lillian is known internationally as a pioneer of dub-poetry, and as a ground
breaker for women in the field. Her first album of poetry with music, Revolutionary Tea Party (1986), was proclaimed a Landmark Album of The
Past 20 Years by Ms. Magazine in 1991. She won a Juno award for that album
and a second in 1988 for Conditions Critical. (We Shall Take Our) Freedom &
Dance, her third album, was released in 1999 by Vancouver's Festival Records.
Lillian has published 2 books of poetry, Rhythm An' Hardtimes(1983), and
more recently, Women Do This Everyday (Women's Press, 1994). Her work for
young people includes three books: Why Me, Nothing But A Hero (for which
she also released a recording) and If You See Truth.
As a playwright she has produced One Bedroom With Dignity (1987), Love &
Other Strange Things(1991 and 1993), and the radio p