John Nyman will be one of two poets featured at the April 1st National Poetry Month reading at London Open Mic Poetry Night. The other will be Penn Kemp.
John Nyman types, speaks, and constructs poetries ranging from lyric verse through to visual and conceptual forms. His poems and short fiction have been featured in a variety of print and online journals and collections—most recently including Rampike, (parenthetical), ditch, and Cordite Poetry Review—and he has performed at and/or co-hosted several prominent reading series. Since summer 2014 he has also designed and self-published innovative, small-scale chapbooks featuring visual and experimental poetry.
Originally from Toronto (where he often still appears at barroom open mics and house-readings), John is currently studying towards a PhD in Theory and Criticism at Western University with a focus on postmodern theories of language and contemporary conceptual writing. In the past he has served as Senior Fiction Editor of Existere, a biannual art and literature journal published out of York University’s Vanier College, and Arts Editor of Excalibur, York’s campus newspaper. John is also a graduate of York University’s undergraduate program in Creative Writing.
John Nyman lives in the body, the body lives in the world, and the world lives in the text.
More information and links to past publications can be found at https://johnnymanwriting.wordpress.com/.
One of the Four Poems by John Nyman
I saw a pregnant woman on the bus
collect a blonde-haired, red-tied ponytail.
I read a sign that advertised a sale
for men’s suits, catching troughs of sun glow
in its gloss and spitting it back out into
the sky. I watched a music video
that sang: seventy millions of people
do this, do that, keeping the number hallowed,
the notes shivering with the strength of the sum
of all those unique humans, differences swallowed
together. The best numbers are not one,
though you say we have that many minds and souls.
I’d dissolve if I argued, guarding thoughts too much
like zebra mussels or flocks of white seagulls.
[originally published in The Quilliad 1]
(Interview by Kevin Heslop for London Open Mic Poetry Night)
KH: I’m trying to be aware that the poems you’ve chosen for the interview are ripe for projection in the psychoanalytic sense, and the possible danger of some lurid showmanship on my part in the responding; they feel sparse and porous and somehow like a rapid kind of complex Frogger ballet during which at a certain point a three-dimensional helicopter appears above the busy street to unfurl a rope ladder for the dancer who takes it and is carried off, and that that. And I’m feeling infantile with attempts to derive patterns or linearity: that awful phrase “and what was the poet trying to say?”, as if he had somehow failed to say exactly what was to be said, and for the experience of reading the poem to have been full and unswerving like watching a candleflame which loses dimension at the moment of photographing. Anyway, a throat-clearing to encourage digressions and any suitable restructuring of the questions to follow. I’m just trying to push first dominoes.
JN: Combining Frogger and ballet as fluidly as you do should probably seem strange. But strangely, it doesn’t to me. Characterizing a poem as a dance is tried and true, but I think a videogame is at least as apt a metaphor. Because if a poem is a dance, it’s one I dance with my body only as much as I also dance it with the technologies of language, culture, keyboards and pixels.
A brief note on “what the poet was trying to say”: I once heard a poet (I’m monstrously ashamed to admit I forget who it was) introduce one of her readings by saying, “If it’s aboutness that you need, this poem is about….” I loved it because it reminded me that aboutness is only one thing among many. At the same time, sometimes we do need it.
KH:: To sound maybe plebby, the concluding images in Not One–“I’d dissolve if I argued, guarding thoughts too much / like zebra mussels or flocks of white seagulls”– preceded by a meditation on modern monolithic culture “the sum / of all those unique humans, differences swallowed / together”, seem so intuited as to be almost dream-inspired.
The question, then, would be, I think: (1) how and to what degree do you feel your work is intuited rather than bound to linearity, (2) how for you does intuition relate to experimentation and (3) does your process of composition ever feel contiguous with, for example, the dream world, the poem in the writing an exploration of synaptic terrain?
JN: Definitely not linear, but I don’t believe in intuition. To be more specific: “intuition,” I think, is an easy out, usually invoked to explain away the need to draw connections. Now, connections may not always be direct, obvious, or logical—i.e. “linear”—they might not even be the same connections tomorrow. But they are always possible, and poetry demands them.
Connections are often described in terms of lines, so maybe I shouldn’t be so down on “linearity” after all. As long as it doesn’t mean “unilinearity,” since there are many possible lines. “Polylinearity,” or even “demi-linearity,” might suit me better.
Let’s pretend that by “intuition” in (2) you meant “polylinearity” (now I’m scrambling all kinds of lines): then I’d answer, it has everything to do with it. For me, experimentation means looking at all the possible connections (variables), precisely selecting a few to test, then registering the experience of how they play out. Experimentation is about making something happen, preferably in such a way that you can watch it happen.
To be more generous to your third question: even if I’m skeptical about “intuition,” what I’m trying to talk about has everything to do with the dream world. My dreams (and yours too, I hope!) are full of logics and narratives that would never fly in waking life. Your idea of “synaptic terrain” is especially appropriate since “synapse” refers to a junction or linkage: dreams are overstuffed with words and events that “click” or rhyme, ultimately in more ways than you’ll ever fully realize (Freud would tell you this). What’s important to me is that what happens in dreams still “happens,” even if nobody else (or not even you, yourself) can make sense of it. Dreams contain possible connections; they can be experimented with.
Read the rest of the interview and 4 poems by John Nyman
BetweenTwoRadios Pencil work by London artist James Wood See James Wood's blog. _____________________________________________________________________________________
Featured poets to come
London Open Mic Poetry Night has its roster of features filled part way into the fourth season.
April 1st, our National Poetry Month event, as previously advertised, will feature two of London‘s “experimental” poets, John Nyman and Penn Kemp. And of course, after the intermission, there will be our third and most important feature--the full slate of open mic readers. The event is expected to be packed, so anyone wanting a chair would be advised not to come late. The venue, Mykonos Restaurant, holds 65 comfortably.
May 6, 2015, will feature Laurie D. Graham, a fairly new resident of London and a well-known Canadian poet.
June 3, 2015, will feature John B Lee, who has long workshopped in London with Londoners, and is the lifetime Poet Laureate of Brantford.
Season 4: 2015-2016
Oct. 7, 2015, will feature Madeline Bassnett, who teaches English at Western.
Nov. 4, 2015, will feature Charles Mountford, a Stratford poet and humourist.
THE APRIL 1ST EVENT
WHERE: The Mykonos Restaurant at 572 Adelaide St. North, London, Ontario. The restaurant has a large, covered terrace just behind the main restaurant, which comfortably holds 60 poetry lovers. Mediterranean food and drinks are available. Except for the coldest months, the terrace is open to the parking lot behind. Overflow parking is available across the side street and in the large lot one block north, in front of Trad’s Furniture.
WHEN: Doors: 6:00 to 6:30 (It's a restaurant.) Event begins at 7:00
THE FEATURED POET: John Nyman, followed by Penn Kemp, will open the poetry portion of the event at 7:00, followed by a Q&A. See John's bio.
OPEN MIC: Following the featured poet, open mic poets will read, the first 15 before a break at about 9:00 pm, and any more poets reading until 10:30. Each poet has five minutes (which is about two good pages of poetry, but it should be timed at home). Sign up on the reader`s list, which is on the book table at the back. It's first come, first served.
COVER: By donation (in donation jar on back table, or use Donate Button on website Donate Page).
RAFFLE PRIZES: Anyone who donates at the event receives a ticket for a raffle prize, three of which will be picked after the intermission. The prizes consist of poetry books donated by Brick Books and The Ontario Poetry Society. Donations are our only source of income.
Scroll down for:
PENN KEMP FEATURING WITH JOHN NYMAN, APRIL 1
Penn Kemp will be joining John Nyman to feature at out April 1st event at Mykonos.
April is National Poetry Month. As in the past, London Open Mic will feature two poets, but this time it will also include its regular contingent of about 15 open mic readers. John Nyman and Penn Kemp will feature during the first hour, followed by a Q&A for both of them, and the open mic section after the intermission.
Penn: "I’m delighted to celebrate National Poetry Month through the League of Canadian Poets with London Open Mic and John Nyman at Mykonos. Our topic this year is, very appropriately, FOOD!"
FIFTY YEARS of Writing and Publishing in London… and Away
Activist poet, performer and playwright Penn Kemp is Creative Age London’s Writer-in-Residence. She is the inaugural Poet Laureate for London Ontario (2010-12), a Life Member of the League of Canadian Poets, and a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee medal. For Creative Age London, Penn has curated a series of four free reading/workshops to be held Saturday mornings in May at Landon Library.
Penn’s poetry was first published fifty years ago in Western’s literary magazine, FOLIO, when she was an Honours English student. Before that, she was the editor of the Masonville Gazette and the Medway Magnet! Since her first book was published by Coach House Press in 1972, she has been pushing textual and aural boundaries, often in participatory performance work. Penn has published twenty-six books of poetry and drama, had six plays and ten CDs produced as well as several award-winning videopoems.
As Writer-in-Residence for Western, her project was the DVD, Luminous Entrance: a Sound Opera for Climate Change Action, Pendas Productions. For seven years, Penn has presented an eclectic literary show, Gathering Voices, on Radio Western: see http://chrwradio.ca/content/upcoming-episodes-gathering-voices. Her essays have been widely anthologized in such Canadian works as the League of Canadian Poets Feminist Caucus archives, Windsor Review: special Alice Munro issue; Untying The Apron; Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace; and Poetry London’s Possessions. Having performed in festivals around the world, most recently in Britain, Brazil and India, Penn lives in the house she grew up in here in London, where she edits poetry for Pendas Productions with her husband Gavin Stairs. She has been heralded by the Writers’ Union as a “one woman literary industry”. Updates and poems are on http://mytown.ca/pennletter and https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/, https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/, linkedin.com/pennkemp,twitter.com/pennkemp.
Penn Kemp: Interview and Five Poems, From London Open Mic, April, 2014
Click here to read five of Penn's poems on food and for the event info
Penn Kemp's specialty, sound poetry, goes back to the early 20th century
For those of you unsure of where sound poetry came from, here is Wikipedia's version of events:
The writing of pure sound texts, that downplay the roles of meaning and structure in poetry, had it's beginning in the early 20th century. The Futurist and Dadaist movements of the beginning of the century were the pioneers in creating the first sound poetry forms. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti discovered that onomatopoeias were useful to describe a battle in Tripoli where he was a soldier, creating a sound text that became a sort of a spoken photograph of the battle. Dadaists were more involved in sound poetry and they invented different categories:
Zang Tumb Tumb (1914) is a sound poem and concrete poem by Italian futurist F. T. Marinetti.
Hugo Ball performed a piece of sound poetry in a reading at Cabaret Voltaire in 1916:
"I created a new species of verse, 'verse without words,' or sound poems....I recited the following: gadji beri bimbaglandridi lauli lonni cadori..."(Albright, 2004)
For many dadaists, such as Hugo Ball, sound poetry also presented a language of trauma, a cacophony used to protest the sound of the cannons of World War I. It was as T. J. Demos writes, "a telling stutter, a nervous echolalia."
Kurt Schwitters' Ursonate (1922–32, "Primal Sonata") is a particularly well known early example:
The first movement rondo's principal theme being a word, "fmsbwtözäu" pronounced Fümms bö wö tää zää Uu, from a 1918 poem by Raoul Hausmann, apparently also a sound poem. Schwitters also wrote a less well-known sound poem consisting of the sound of the letter W. (Albright, 2004)
Chilean Vicente Huidobro's explores phonetic mutations of words in his book "Altazor"(1931).
In his story The Poet at Home, William Saroyan refers to a character who practices a form of pure poetry, composing verse of her own made up words.
Sound poetry evolved into visual poetry and concrete poetry, two forms based in visual arts issues although the sound images are always very compelling in them. Later on, with the development of the magnetic tape recorder, sound poetry evolved thanks to the upcoming of the concrete music movement at the end of the 1940s. Some sound poetics were used by later poetry movements like the beat generation in the fifties or the spoken word movement in the 80's, and by other art and music movements that brought up new forms such as text sound art that may be used for sound poems which more closely resemble "fiction or even essays, as traditionally defined, than poetry".
It has been argued that “there is a paucity of information on women's involvement in sound poetry, whether as practitioners, theorists, or even simply as listeners.” Among the earliest female practitioners are Berlin poet Else Lasker-Schüler, who experimented in what she called “Ursprache” (Ur-language), and the New York Dada poet and performer Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. The Baroness’s poem “Klink-Hratzvenga (Death-wail)” was published in The Little Review in March 1920 to great controversy. Written in response to her husband Leopold von Freytag-Loringhoven’s suicide, the sound poem was “a mourning song in nonsense sounds that transcended national boundaries”. The Baroness was also known for her sexually charged sound poetry, as seen in “Teke Heart (Beating of Heart),” only recently published.
The poet Edith Sitwell coined the term Abstract poetry to describe some of her own poems which possessed more aural than literary qualities, rendering them essentially meaningless: "The poems in Façade are abstract poems--that is, they are patterns of sound. They are...virtuoso exercises in technique of extreme difficulty, in the same sense as that in which certain studies by Liszt are studies in transcendental technique in music." (Sitwell, 1949)
Theories of sound poetry:
In their essay “Harpsichords Metallic Howl—", Irene Gammel and Suzanne Zelazo review the theories of sound by Charles Bernstein, Gerald Bruns, Min-Quian Ma, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Jeffrey McCaffery and others to argue that sonic poetry foregrounds its own corporality. Thus “the Baroness's sound poems let her body speak[;] through her expansive use of sound, the Baroness conveys the fluidity of gender as a constantly changing, polysemous signifier.” In this way, somatic art becomes the poet’s own “space-sound.”
Later prominent sound poets:
include Henri Chopin, Bob Cobbing, Ada Verdun Howell, Allen Ginsberg, bpNichol, William S. Burroughs, Giovanni Fontana, Bernard Heidsieck, Enzo Minarelli, François Dufrene, Mathias Goeritz, Maurizio Nannucci,Andras Petocz, and Jaap Blonk, a Dutch sound poet who often works with improvising musicians.
London's Penn Kemp has created the term "sound opera" for her version of sound poetry. The following is from London Open Mic Poetry Night's interview with Penn Kemp:
LOMPN: You refer to your poetry now as “sound opera” instead of “sound poetry”. What do you mean by “sound opera”, and how do you differentiate it from “sound poetry”?
PK: A sound poem is for me performed by a single voice, even though Canada fostered marvellous sound poetry groups. I’ve enjoyed pushing textual and aural boundaries, often in participatory performance work, working across a variety of poetic practices to engage the audience. Since I often work in collaboration with musicians, theatre folks, videographers and other multimedia/ visual artists, I looked for a term that was less focussed on a specific literary tradition, even one like Dada. So the sound poem naturally developed into “Sound Operas": poetic narratives that weave sound, imagery and music in a contemporary counterpoint of many voices and different forms. My writing life is divided between poetry and theatre: Sound Opera jumps that gap and allows for both. Seven of my Sound Operas have been performed at London’s glorious Aeolian Hall. Poetry in performance is the way I spread the word for the arts and inspire action to support them! It's a great joy to collaborate with artists from different media: they expand my sense of possibility.
Organizer's Report on the Mar. 4th event and the future
From Frank Davey Blog:
The Hart House Story of Canadian Art
A Story of Canadian Art: As Told by the Hart House Collection, ed. Barbara Fischer. Toronto: Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, 2014. 124 pp. $32.00.
A Story of Canadian Art is the catalogue that accompanies the currently touring exhibition of the same name, to be hosted next by the Kelowna Art Gallery (May 2 - July 4, 2015) and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston (August 15-November 29, 2015). It presents 41 paintings from the permanent collection assembled by the faculty, students, and artist-advisors of the University of Toronto’s Hart House between 1920 and 1950 and now usually stored at Hart House’s relatively new Justina M. Barnicke Galley. The catalogue is in a small format (9.8" x 6.7") but well printed, with 45 colour plates, and is much more an art book than an exhibition guide.
Its editor and her four assistants who write the one-page commentaries on the paintings rightly insist that this is indeed “a” story of Canadian art – a regional Toronto-centered story among many other possible stories. But this is of course also a story that has enjoyed some privileges. Hart House was a gift to the university by Vincent Massey, heir to the Massey-Ferguson and Massey-Harris farm implement fortunes, and eventual Governor-General and chair of the 1949-51 Massey Commission on the national development of the arts, letters and sciences in Canada. Massey endowed Hart House with funds to make annual purchases of paintings, gifted some, and influenced the principles that guided acquisitions. He was also an early patron of the Group of Seven, and through the Massey-Harris connection a friend of painter Lawren Harris. Not surprisingly 18 of the impressive 41 works in the exhibition are by members of the Group, and another 12 by artists who were Ontario-based.
One fascinating alternative story here is what non-Ontario artists during this period were known in Toronto. Emily Carr, William Percy Weston, E.J. Hughes, and B.C. Binning are the Read More
If you want to know what this is all about,
check out this Yodeller interview with organizer Stan Burfield
Interview for The London Yodeller (Jan. 31, 2014 issue) by Jason Dickson, writer, novelist (three novels published to date), and bookseller at Attic Books.
J.D. What inspired you to start a reading series?
S.B. Shyness! That may sound contradictory, but it’s not. My wife and I sold our flower shop and moved to London in 2008. I decided it was finally time to do something about my shyness, which had caused me endless problems all my life. I had tried to deal with it before by going on extremely difficult adventures by myself, to toughen up, so to speak, but I eventually realized that did more harm than good. So now, being semi-retired and having more time, I started going in a social direction. I joined a poetry workshop, then tried to read my poems in front of others when I had the chance, which wasn’t easy, to say the least. Anyway, I accumulated a couple poetry friends and we went to an open mic reading in Sarnia. On the way home I wondered why they could have a monthly open mic in the town of Sarnia and there wasn’t one in London, which is so much larger. The answer was simply that someone had to organize it. My two friends didn’t have the time, And I thought there was no way I could do it because of my shyness. But then, on second thought, what the heck, if I don’t do something drastic now, at 61 years of age, I never will. So I took the bit between my teeth. How did it work out for me as therapy? Well, now, after our first one and a half seasons, I can get in the elevator in our building and CALMLY chat with people as we go up. For the first time in my life.
J.D. Where was the first night held?
S.B. They’ve always been at Mykonos Restaurant. A local poet, Frank Beltrano, showed it to me as a possible venue. I had been searching through dingy bars and so on, and as soon as I saw this place I knew it was perfect. It couldn’t be improved upon. In good weather it’s a large square terrace open to the outside at the back. In winter it’s enclosed and well-heated. Beautiful Greek atmosphere. The tables hold up to 65. (We’ve been averaging about 45 lately.) Read more....
For a more-detailed bio, see: "Stan Burfield, poetic journeyman"....by Susan McElroy for Your Old South Magazine