BC Poetry 2016: "Pound @ Guantánamo" by Clint Burhham (Talonbooks)

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Laß die heilgen Parabolen,
Laß die frommen Hypothesen –
Suche die verdammten Fragen
Ohne Umschweif uns zu lösen.
Warum schleppt sich blutend, elend,
Unter Kreuzlast der Gerechte,
Während glücklich als ein Sieger
Trabt auf hohem Roß der Schlechte?
Woran liegt die Schuld? Ist etwa
Unser Herr nicht ganz allmächtig?
Oder treibt er selbst den Unfug?
Ach, das wäre niederträchtig.
Also fragen wir beständig,
Bis man uns mit einer Handvoll
Erde endlich stopft die Mäuler –
Aber ist das eine Antwort?

Soon Lather Us


lass D hi! I’ll goin’ pair of bowling shoes
last Dief men hype oh! S. Thesen
zouk divers Dump ten-forkin’
own oom’s fife undo’s lo! Sin
warm schlepped sick blue Ellen S. end
interred cries last M. Doerksen wrecked
4 end glue click Alzheimer B. Seger
trapped off homie’s ohm Ross dirt select?
Warren league’d Dee scold? Liszt oof-duh
Answer hair nicked cans all muh tick?
odour tribe to her sell-by then unfucked?
Act, that’s far need ’er track Tigg
Also fraggin’ fur best and dig
peace man unsmitten eyin’ her handful
err de end lick stopped fit to die mauler
hey Ray Burr pissed Dasein ant forth?


Clint Burnham is widely published as a critical theorist, poet, and author of books on digital culture. He is the author of book-length studies of Steve McCaffery and Fredric Jameson, a novel titled Smoke Show (2005), and several books of poetry, including The Benjamin Sonnets (2009). His most recent critical book is The Only Poetry that Matters: Reading the Kootenay School of Writing (2012). His most recent art writing includes a catalogue essay on Canadian photographer Kelly Wood; an essay on Edward Burtynsky is in the forthcoming Petrocultures collection from McGill-Queens. During a residency at the Urban Subjects Collective in Vienna in 2014–15, he wrote books on Slavoj Žižek and digital culture, and on Fredric Jameson and Wolf of Wall Street.

Burnham is an associate member of the SFU Department of Geography and a member of SFU’s Centre for Global Political Economy. He is a founding member of the Vancouver Lacan Salon.


Throughout these poems is a meeting of obscene or politically charged material, as well as commentary on language usage under extreme circumstances of duress such as the Arab Spring. This is poetry written in conditions of wartime. The title implies an analogy between Ezra Pound, imprisoned at Pisa after World War II, and the inhabitants of the military or CIA prisons at Guantánamo Bay.

Poems cross the page or are more architectural, in tight columns, or curve like a cyberpunk office tower. Entire continents are leaped across in a line or two: “from Burquitlam Plaza to Redondo Beach metro stop/Bush with Burqas for the B.U.” but written in a city where bus drivers fix their trolley lines, and Squamish is a place you drive to, in your imagination, during a job interview conducted over the phone.

Place, in this poetry, is both a name (but whose name? the colonizer? First Nation? mall developer?) and a root grows in one’s popular culture as the only way to recognize the war machine (“why cadence weapon left Friendster/why the Flava Flav transformer twins’re buck-toothed”). A final word on style: Burnham’s language is compressed like an MP3 file (one of the worst music files, notoriously).


Arriving April 21st, 2016.


Book Launches: April 26th, Pyatt Hall (Vancouver).

Purchases: The Talonbooks website, or at your local bookstore. $17.95.


Curving like a cyberpunk office tower.

The copyrights of all poems included in the series remain with their authors, and are reprinted with the permission of the publishers.

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