which seems to undercut all that I’ve been on at up above

Stephanie Bolster: In “Someone Has Stayed in Stockholm” you write : “Although you can fall into places deeper than language,/ can’t you? Yes. He has.” Obviously you have, too. What is deeper than language, for a writer? And - the key question, I think - what is insufficient about language?

Don Coles: I think that almost anything we think about closely is deeper than language. Both the world and our thoughts flow/flows outside and beyond our language capabilities. Language tries to keep up, and its success can appear huge (in art, in good writing, etc.) - huge in that is does something, it slows the flow, it stops at least small parts of that flow and allows us to watch it or wade into it, stand in it. But it fails, inevitably, in terms of the totality of any moment…

“Deeper than language,” though, means many things. It can make the so-called artist (poet, etc.) aware in every step of what he’s doing that it’s at best a simulacrum of the reality he senses, notices, fails to rival. It can on the other hand intensify his commitment, because the knowledge of that gap stimulates the desire to bridge it. And of course, finally (well, probably not “finally” - what can be “final” about this?), I haven’t even touched the other argument, which loiters hereabouts keeping its mouth shut but knowing what it knows: and which is, of course, the certainty that language can lead us beyond the speechless word and deeper than formless thought. Which seems to undercut all that I’ve been on at up above. Well, that’s the way it is. Elusive, paradoxical, colliding with itself, endless.

- from Where the Words Come From: Canadian Poets in Conversation, Ed. Tim Bowling, 2002.


nothing against art garfunkel

nothing against art garfunkel
but i’d sucker punch the guy
if i ever got the chance,
really rattle his skull and
send what’s left of his
ridiculous, frizzy hair
skittering into the air

and even though some say
he is nothing more than
a tick engorged with
paul simon’s blood, he
wouldn’t deserve the
beating, not in the least

i mean, all he did was
move his lips a little after
paul’s and in so doing
created the greatest harmony
the world’s ever heard
which hardly makes him
a parasite, instead the
lesser half of a symbiotic
relationship, few of which
are entirely equal (long-
beaked birds tirelessly
picking bugs off the
backs of hippopotami –
suction-lipped fish clinging
to the underbellies of
indifferent sharks)

perhaps talent arrives
bloated and lumbering
at birth, the birds swarming
to sustain themselves
off of it, or instead talent
is found in the toiling
and it is the primeval rhythms
that we shape our mouths
to consume

but it hardly matters
either way, symbiosis
being a crutch of the
beasts, the animals that
cannot sustain themselves
inside themselves

and art garfunkel’s
career is the echo of
someone else’s song –
ringo banging pots and
pans in his basement –
it is a reminder of
something primitive
and pure and vital that
we muffle deep inside

a voice which echoes
our joys and sorrows –
repeats them, one octave higher –
asks us to listen

a thing which i cannot
mute with my fists so
instead i dream of punching
art garfunkel square in
the face and watching
him fall helplessly
to the ground.

- from the 2007/2008 issue of Acta Victoriana


a theatre of special interests

As soon as powerful new methods began to dominate English departments, the poet-critic gig lost its prestige. Literary criticism for the general reader — the sort championed by poet-critics — took on a belletristic odor; no matter how formidable the close reading, it would now exist on the margins of a more sophisticated cogitating...
Standing on postmodern ground for their higher surmises, academia outgrew aesthetic evaluations; artistic merit, as a concept, became an ideological fairy tale. What eventually filtered down to street level — if the industry-wide outbreaks of shock at negative reviews are any guide — was a hypersensitivity to strong opinions and the taste-correcting urge lurking inside. Show us somebody dedicated to sifting out the best from the merely good, and we’ll show you somebody with a hidden motive. As a result, the poet-critic lost the gig altogether. Criticism by poets, once the conscience of the art, is now exposed as a theatre of special interests...

-Carmine Starnino, from "The Plight of the Poet-Critic" in the May 2008 issue of Poetry.


new mag

Fellow HAP volunteer Taryn Hubbard, whose work was recently featured on the Antigonish Review's website, is branching out and co-founding her own print lit mag: Hacksaw.

Their first submission deadline is June 15th, and you should send them something.

They have this really classy looking .pdf ad with all the details, but I have no way of posting that here. Instead, here's the not-so-classy-looking blog link and a picture of a retired pro wrestler.

This lit mag is Jim Duggan approved!!!