Writing on the Cusp of Becoming Something Else

As an artist and author of both print and digital literature I have made extensive use of archival materials over the past twenty years, incorporating ‘found’ images from old text books and ‘borrowing’ source code from dusty corners of the Web. I will aim to frame these acts of appropriation as contributions to a larger cultural project during Friction and Fiction: IP, Copyright and Digital Futures, a one day symposium taking place at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London 26 September 2015.

The Songs of Maldoror (1869)
Lautréamont, The Songs of Maldoror (1869)

In 1870 Le Compte de Lautréamont famously wrote: “Plagiarism is necessary. It is implied in the idea of progress. It clasps the author’s sentence tight, uses his expressions, eliminates a false idea, replaces it with the right idea.” In The Beach Beneath the Street: The Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International, McKenzie Wark observes that Lautréamont “corrects, not back to a lost purity or some ideal form, but toward to a new possibility” (2011 34). In this spirit, let’s use Lautréamont’s expression, but eliminate the false idea of an assumed male author:

“Plagiarism is necessary. It is implied in the idea of progress. It clasps the author’s sentence tight, uses her expressions, eliminates a false idea, replaces it with the right idea.” J. R. Carpenter

In the 1920s Lautréamont was re-discovered by the Surrealists, who hailed him as a patron saint. In the early 1950s news broke that some of the most poetic passages of Lautréamont’s most well-known work, The Songs of Maldoror (1869), had been plagiarised from text books. I’d love to say this is where I got the idea from, but I’d been plagiarising text books long before I’d ever heard of Lautréamont.

Hannah Hoch, Bourgeois Wedding Couple (1919)
Hannah Hoch, Bourgeois Wedding Couple (1919)

The Letterist International credited Lautréamont with the discovery of a method they termed détournement. To détourne is to detour, to lead astray, to appropriate — not a literary form, as in a style, a poetics, or a genre, but rather a material form, as in a sentence, a book, a film, a canvas. In this material approach the Letterists lagged decades behind the Dadaist, Constructivist, and Surrealist collage and photomontage artists of the 1920s.

Joseph Cornell, Untitled (1934)
Joseph Cornell, Untitled (1934)

I went to art school. I came to writing through the material practices of photographing, photocopying, cutting with scissors, and pasting with glue. Hannah Hoch was my hero. Her lover Raoul Hausmann was pretty great too. I was mesmerised by the strange relations between image and text in the collage novels of Max Ernst (1891–1976), as was another of my art school icons, Joseph Cornell. At the recent exhibition of Cornell‘s work at the Royal Academy in London I was delighted to discover that Cornell had appropriated a black and white image of a girl balancing a stack of suitcases on her head from the front page of my website.

J. R. Carpenter, Luckysoap.com
J. R. Carpenter, Luckysoap.com

One of my earliest web-based works, Mythologies of Landforms and Little Girls was first published in a literary journal in 1995, but I remained unsatisfied with the fixed order of the story. In 1996 I made a non-linear HTML version in which readers could move through the story their own way. Most of the images and subtexts come from a civil engineering handbook. The deadpan technical descriptions of dikes, groins and mattress work add perverse sexual overtones to the otherwise chaste first-person narrative. Between the diagrammatic images and the enigmatic texts, a meta-narrative emerges wherein the absurd and the inarticulate, desire and loss may finally co-exist.

Environmental Geologic Guide to Cape Cod National Seashore (1979)
Environmental Geologic Guide to Cape Cod National Seashore (1979)

I built The Cape in 2005, but some of the sentences had been kicking around in my brain since the early 1990s. I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with them until came across a used copy of an Environmental Geologic Guide to Cape Cod National Seashore published by the University of Massachusetts in 1979, around the time of my one and only trip to Cape Cod to visit a grandmother I barely remember. I used photographs, charts, graphs and maps from the Geologic Guide as stand-ins for non-existent family photos — a surrogate family album. I used DHTML timelines produce a silent, jumpy, staggering effect reminiscent of the Super-8 home movies in which I’d always longed to star. The Cape has since been published in the Electronic Literature Collection Volume One, under a Creative Commons licence, and as a zine, in which images from the Geologic Guide mingle with diagrams appropriated from children’s text books.

Zine iterations of web-based works by J. R. Carpenter
Zine iterations of web-based works by J. R. Carpenter

In more recent works, I have turned my acquisitive attention toward the appropriation of literary texts.

In …and by islands I mean paragraphs (2013), small paragraphs generated by JavaScript draw upon variable strings containing fragments of literary texts harvested from a vast corpus of essays, plays, poems, novels, and travel writing on the topic of islands, including a number of works which have already borrowed from each other. My aim is not to claim these fragments of literary works as my own, but rather, to make their inner workings more overt. For example, whilst the title of Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “Crusoe in England” (1971) makes clear reference to Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe (1719), nowhere within the poem does Bishop acknowledge that the textual topography of her Crusoe’s island borrows heavily from Charles Darwin’s descriptions of the Galapagos Islands in The Voyage of the Beagle (1838), a book which Bishop admired. And why should she?

J. R. Carpenter, ...and by islands I mean paragraphs (2013)
J. R. Carpenter, …and by islands I mean paragraphs (2013)

McKenzie Wark argues: “For past works to become resources for the present requires… their appropriation as a collective inheritance, not as private property” (2011: 37). In …and by islands I mean paragraphs I have clasped the authors’ sentences tight. I have used expressions from both Bishop and Darwin. I have eliminated the false idea that either text is fixed, advocating instead for the bright idea that literature is our and we should use it however we want.

Incorporation of appropriation, variation, and transformation into the process of composition results in writing that is always on the cusp of becoming something else.

Introducing the Adventures of WEBGIRL

Introducing the adventures of WEBGIRL, an original comic drawn entirely by girl genius Aphra Kennedy Fletcher, in which it is revealed that J. R. is actually the secret cover of the electrically charged superhero WEBGIRL… not to be confused with Spiderwoman.

WEBGIRL

In this episode, I travel by fibre optic route to fight viral villain MEGABYTE. And I win!!!!!

Check out Aphra’s Film Factory on YouTube.

Next Stop, SappyFest!

Literary types of all stripes will invade SappyFest this year. Thursday, July 30, I’ll pack a suitcase full of zines and novels and join the migration eastward.

SappyFest is a little independent music festival produced annually in partnership with the Ok.Quoi?! Contemporary Arts Festival, Struts Gallery & Faucet Media Arts Centre. The festival takes place July 31 – August 2, 2009, in Sackville, New Brunswick, the centre of the universe.

If you happen to be in the centre of the universe that weekend, come visit me at the Zine Fair, Saturday August 1, 12 to 4 PM at the United Church. There will be participants from across Canada, a kids workshop, a presentation by Andy Brown (Conundrum Press) and readings by Jeffrey Makie, Jaime Forsthythe and Dawn-Aeron Wason.

Sunday, August 2, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, check out the The Vogue Writers Block, a multi-media event at The Vogue Theater (Sackville’s art deco movie theater) featuring The Joe, Catherine Kidd, J.R. Carpenter, Lezlie Lowe, Andrea Dorfman, Ian Roy, and Thesis. I’ll reading a section of my novel, Words the Dog Knows, that traverses three different electronic literature projects (How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome, Entre Ville, and in absentia).

Now a registered non-profit organization, SappyFest Incorporated, the festival was founded in 2006 by the good people of Sappy Records, Julie Doiron, Jon Claytor and Paul Henderson.

Ok.Quoi?! is an interdisciplinary festival of contemporary art, focusing on video, audio, new and independent music produced by Struts Gallery & Faucet Media Arts Centre in partnership with SappyFest. The works of over 50 artists will be presented over 6 days in a variety of screenings, installations, concerts, broadcasts and performances. Alongside exciting international and national work, Ok.Quoi?! features new and innovative projects from local and regional artists. All events save for the Last Chance for Summer Romance concert and barbecue are free, and open to all ages.

More info: SappyFest & Ok.Quoi?!


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A Semiotics of Public Speaking

If folk wisdom and the Internet are to be believed, a surprisingly high number of people fear public speaking more than they fear death. And unless Wikipedia is pulling my leg, the official term for the fear of public speaking is Glossophobia, from the Greek words glōssa, meaning tongue, and phobos, fear or dread. I have never been afraid of public speaking. Or private speaking. Talking is one of my favourite things to do. Rumour has it my first words were a whole sentence. As a toddler I kept up a constant commentary on every single thing I saw, heard, thought, ingested or excreted. In elementary school, Show & Tell was my best subject. In art school I lived for Critiques. It would have made sense to become a Professor, fond as I am of oration and debate. But I took a more independent route. And a quieter one. Most days I sit at home writing, speaking only occasionally to pose rhetorical questions to my dog. But every now and then I feel a bout of Show & Tell coming on. I get an overwhelming urge to talk to a whole room full of people at once and then there’s nothing for it but to start planning PowerPoint presentations in my head. If there is a Greek word for that, I don’t know what it is.

Around this time last year I decided I wanted to revisit some places in Nova Scotia, where I grew up, and that the best way to get there would be to get invited to give an artist’s talk. It seemed like a straightforward plan at the time. I spent most of 2007 pestering and cajoling professors and gallery directors at universities across Nova Scotia to hook me up. By mid-fall I’d talked my way into speaking engagements at Acadia University, Dalhousie Art gallery and NSCAD. But, as the title of this blog may suggest, non-stop talking leads to slip-ups sometimes. Lapsus Linguae is Latin: lapsus, meaning a lapse or a slip, and linguae, meaning tongue. Just days before embarking on this Show & Tell Tour of Atlantic Canada, I came down with a vicious sore throat and promptly lost my voice. I’m pretty sure the Greek word for that is ironia, meaning irony.

I immediately started reading way too much into the situation. Was this loss of voice a premonition of failure to come? Or was it an echo of the voiceless past reasserting itself? Acadia University is in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where I went to Elementary School for grades four and five. I was regularly shushed in and out of class and however much I loved Show & Tell, my exhaustive focus on Tell over Show won me few fans and continues to plague my fiction writing to this day. Either way, I was going to get my voice back.

I stayed in bed for two days. I ate so much raw garlic that I was apologizing for my breath even in emails. Through sheer force of will I refrained from talking. The date of my departure dawned sunny and clear, which I took as a good sign. My chronically late mother-in-law arrived on time to drive me to the airport. Another good sign. I decided that if I could explain the topic of my upcoming talks to her – in French, on the Metropolitan Autoroute, in between divining directions and watching for hidden highway signs – then there was some hope that the talks would go over well. I don’t know if she understood exactly what the talks would be about, but she got it loud and clear that I would be paid for them and this impressed her. We only almost died three times during the twenty-five minute drive, which I took as a blessing from on high as usually her old-lady driving statistics average out much nearer the near-death side. We arrived at the airport early and in one piece. I had no problems at security and the flight was uneventful. I recommend to anyone with a fear of flying, or aerophobia, to get a lift to the airport with my mother-in-law. That will put things into perspective.

My first hour in Nova Scotia was spent in the airport waiting for Jon Saklofske, my colleague from Acadia; his carpool schedule and Air Canada’s did not quite correspond. I bought a coffee from a grim Arrivals area café for the free wireless Internet access with every purchase, but no matter how many times I entered the network key (long as my arm) I could not connect. I took this to be a very bad sign (as I had just been flown in to present Internet-based work) until I realized that no one else in the café could connect either. That cheered me right up. I went to sit near the exit where Jon would soon (fingers crossed) miraculously appear. A spectacularly fuchsia sunset ensued. Beautiful, but vaguely post-apocalyptic. Unsure how to read this sign I decided: When in the Maritimes, aphorize as the Maritimers do. Red at night, sailor’s delight. All good.

Jon showed up right on time – yet another good sign – but there was a funky smell in his van – not good at all. I promised not to post any information on the Internet about this smell, a promise I aim to keep in deference to how much driving me around he and his wife did in the few days I stayed with them. Besides, the smell quickly abated once we ganged up on it and accused it of being a burnt smell rather than a rotten one, thus mechanical in nature rather than satanical as initially suspected. Whoops! I guess I’ve gone and written about the smell after all. Sorry Jon, lapsus linguae.

We drove through the dark. Each green highway sign we passed inducing a wave of place-name nostalgia in me: Hammonds Plains, Bog Road, Nesbitt Street! Jon loves to talk just as much as I do and we had a lot of catching up to do. What little voice I had was soon gone. That night I dreamt I was teaching Jon’s six-year-old son sign language. In the morning Jon’s wife informed that their son already knew sign language, which was a huge relief.

I spent a day wandering around Wolfville, my old hometown, scanning for signs of recognition and scrutinizing signifiers of change, all the while worrying over my voice worse than an opera singer’s understudy. Some things were more exactly the same than others. Somehow I’d completely forgotten about a store called The Market where I used to hang out as a semi-delinquent teen. Walking in I had the closest thing to an acid flashback possible for someone who’s never done acid.

No wonder the secretary at the Wolfville Elementary School seemed highly suspicious of me. I said I wanted to take a look at my old classrooms. She quizzed me: What years were you here? What her skepticism a sign that people never leave here, or that they never come back? Who were your teachers, she wanted to know? I’m so bad with names for a moment I drew a blank, which didn’t help my case. Mr. Thompson? I was guessing. Yes, he’s still here, she said, and grudgingly granted me a visitor’s pass.

I never went to Acadia but when I was about ten my mother did a stint there. As far as all parties were concerned, the vending machines in the Acadia Student Association Building made a perfectly good babysitter. In grade eleven my best friend Dana Cole and I split the cost of a library card at Acadia’s Vaughn Library. We used to drive in regularly from Windsor to check out books. What a bunch of dorks. Paid off though, I guess. She’s a PharmD now and Acadia had just flown me in to give an artist’s talk.

The day of my talk dawned incredibly early. Due to Jon’s cruel and unusual teaching schedule we were at Acadia by 8:30AM. I spent most of the day holed up in his office in the English Department doing my best impersonation of a Romantics Professor. I broke character for about an hour to go speak to Andrea Schwenke Wyile’s Graduate Honours English class, Beyond Words: Graphic Literary Art & The Representation of Ideas. It’s always a bit of an ontological struggle to lecture to a class I wish I were taking, but the students asked good questions and as far as I could tell it went well. I was tuckered out afterward. I had yet to develop a fear of public speaking but was beginning to worry about public sleeping. Narcolepsy, that’s a Greek word too, isn’t it? To be on the safe side I took a power nap on Jon’s office floor.

My talk was scheduled for 7PM in a state of the art auditorium in the K. C. Irving Building, which certainly wasn’t around back in the day. I wonder if my life would have turned out differently if, instead of being left to fend for myself over by the ASA vending machines, I’d been brought up by the K. C. Irving’s fireplace, brass lamps and leather couches. In the upstairs atrium the water falling into stone fountains recessed into the Naples Yellow walls sounded exactly like hundreds of fingers racing over laptop keyboards in the quiet of a darkened lecture hall. Downstairs the auditorium soon reached a respectable capacity and my talk was underway.

For all my worrying over losing my voice, and despite a slight fever and a horribly painful patch of eczema blossoming on my right eyelid, once I got going everything was fine. Did my bit about how I couldn’t wait to get out of rural Nova Scotia and then the minute I got to Montreal I started making work about rural Nova Scotia and everyone laughed. Phew. Said how the interface of The Mythologies of Landforms and Little Girls was inspired by those tourist restaurant placemats with maps of Nova Scotia on them and everyone nodded knowingly. All right then. Moved on to the more recent work. The videos in How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome were loading deadly slowly, but whatever, it kind of fit with the ancient themes in the work so I talked around it. I was in full swing, right smack dab in the middle of Entre Ville, when the projector conked out. The screen went black and my mind went blank. What the hell’s the Greek word for that?

A conversation is a journey, and what gives it value is fear. You come to understand travel because you have had conversations, not vice versa. What is the fear inside language? No accident of the body can make it stop burning.
Anne Carson, The Anthropology of Water

You never really know what your worst nightmare is until you’re in it. I’d been so worried about not being able to speak that it never occurred to me I’d wind up with nothing to show for myself. I tried imagining the audience in their underwear. That was no help. Jon and I pushed all the buttons on the lectern’s consol to no avail. You’d better go call someone, I said. He bounded out of the auditorium. I just stood there. Deer in the headlights, only there was no headlight. Think, I told my brain. Think.

For reasons never previously clear to me I’ve always traveled with printouts of the full texts my electronic literature projects are based on. So, I said to the audience. We were just looking at Entre Ville… I happen to have the poem it’s based on here… How about I read it? And then all of a sudden we had a good old-fashioned poetry reading on our hands. Which was fairly ironic considering it was the English Department that had brought me in. And if there were any sceptics of electronic literature in the room, all their most firmly held conviction had just been proven true.

By the time I’d finished reading Entre Ville Jon had gained access to the control room in the back of the auditorium. I could see him in there frantically talking on his cell phone. Look, I said to the audience, when what I really meant was listen. If anyone wants to storm out right now that’s fine with me. I won’t take it personally. I’ll just blame the projector. But if anyone’s interested in staying, I have some more stories here… No one left. So I started reading Sniffing for Stories and tried not to look toward the control booth where Jon was still on the phone, gesturing frantically, and pushing buttons all over the place in a manner reminiscent of Chewbacca co-piloting the Millennium Falcon. At some point the main projector screen rose up into the ceiling. Okay. A minute later another smaller screen descended. A television show came on briefly – it seemed to be about home renovation – and then that too disappeared. Then – boom – we were back to my web site. I was still reading Sniffing for Stories so I got that text up on screen and kept right on reading.

All things considered, the rest of the talk went exceptionally well considering how horribly wrong that wrong patch went. People stayed and asked questions and came up after and bought mini-books as if nothing humiliating at all had happened. Between the auditorium and Jon’s office he filled me in on the phone conversation he’d been having in the control room. Turns out the one night I’m giving a talk on web-based electronic literature they’re doing maintenance on the bandwidth. No wonder my Quicktimes were loading stone-slow. During the taxi ride home we had elaborated the catastrophic parts into the stuff of legend. And speaking of the Stuff of Legend, our taxi driver was a grizzled old dude with long hair and a long beard and he was playing the most awesome music so finally Jon said, Man! I’ve got to ask, what have you got on in here? The driver smiled beatifically: The Essential Chaka Khan, man. The Essential Chaka Khan.

Okay, so I guess now we know what the soundtrack will be in the scene where Jon and I meet up again twenty years from now in a hotel bar at a conference somewhere and start reminiscing about the time we convinced Acadia to fly me in for a talk and then the Internet went down and the projector bulb blew and a small fire started in the lectern consol and the control room filled with smoke and porn started playing on the big screen and the police came and raided the joint cause the whole audience was in their underwear and then a woman gave birth in the isle.

But at least I didn’t lose my voice.
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The Evolution of the Mini-Book

When I was about six I had a subscription to Owl magazine. In one issue they had a page you cut out, cut up and collated into a mini-book about birds. In 32 pint-sized panels The Owl Mini-Book of Birds introduced twenty-seven orders of birds beginning with the most primitive, flightless birds, and ending with the most advanced, perching birds. I’ve moved house at least 12 times since I was six, but somehow that wee book never got lost in the shuffle. I still have it.

When I was in high school I was painting horrible abstracts in acrylics on canvas board, writing excruciating poetry and studying classical guitar. I can sight-read music, but I’m completely tone deaf so a career in music was out. It was a toss-up between writing and visual arts until, when I was fifteen going on sixteen, I spent a summer in New York studying life drawing and anatomy at the Art Student’s League. There under the tutelage of Nicki Orbach I became simultaneously addicted to drawing and anatomical drawings and decided to apply to art school. If you’ve just Googled yourself and are reading this now Nicki Orbach, know that you changed my life.

When I was seventeen I got into Concordia Fine Arts and soon after got a job at the Concordia Fine Arts Library. There I became simultaneously addicted to the disordered stacks of the now defunct Norris Library and the Fine Arts Slide Library photocopy machine. I used the hell out of that photocopy machine. I carried obscure anatomy books out the library by the armload, photocopied all the diagrams and returned the books unread. There were complaints. I almost got fired a number of times. For more on my tawdry affair with the photocopier, read: A Little Talk About Reproduction.

This was in the early nineties, I should mention, before personal computers came along and made themselves accessible. The drawing classes at Concordia were not quite on par with those at the Art Students’ League. I took a collage class with David Moore. There were photos I didn’t want to cut up. So I photocopied them. There were books I didn’t want to cut up, with anatomical diagrams in them more beautiful than anything I could draw, and there were also diagrams for all my other favourite things: botany, embroidery, analytical geometry, you name it. So I photocopied them, called them “found drawings” and found uses for them.

The first mini-book I made as an adult bore the slightly adult title, Bound For Pleasure. It was based on a poem of the same name and was illustrated with an erratum of diagrams ranging from a garter belt to a bandaged foot. The poems got better over time. The collection of found drawings grew. In art school I made four mini-books: Bound for Pleasure, The Confrontation, The Probability of Mummification, and The Basement Family Pharmacy. They’re no longer in print. Mostly I just gave them all away.

In the fall of 1993 I discovered the Internet, got a Unix shell account and set out to learn everything there was to know about computers. By the fall of 1994 I was no longer working at the Slide Library and thus no longer had illicit access to an after-hours photocopy machine. In the fall of 1995 I did a 10-week thematic residency at the Banff Centre, which was call the Banff Centre for the Arts back then. It turns out that all the big things in life happen in the fall.

The theme of the Banff residency was: Telling Stories, Telling Tales. The first story I told them was that I was a writer, which, as far as I knew, I was not, but they let me in anyway. At Banff I attempted to make a number of mid-sized mini-books using the computer, but they never went anywhere. I made this one book based on a circular story. Because it was a book, when people got to the end they just stopped, because that’s what you’re supposed to do with a book. Then the guy in the next studio over pointed out that if I made it into a web page I could link the last page to the first page so the reader could keep going around and around. So I did. My first ever electronic literature project was designed for Netscape 1.1 and it still works: Fishes & Flying Things. The guy in the next studio over was Velcrow Ripper. If you’ve just Googled yourself and are reading this now Velcrow Ripper, know that you changed my life.

I didn’t even think about making another mini-book for years. Too busy paying off my student loan. Luckily web art led to a few marketable skills. I’ve worked in every aspect of the Internet industry, as artist, designer, programmer, teacher, consultant, and even, once, a three-year stint as the manager of a multi-national web development team. I quit that job in the fall of 2001. Yes, in the fall.

After three years in the corporate world I never wanted to look at the web again. So I began writing a novel. About eight months into that as yet unfinished project I realized how long it would take. Needing to finish something immediately in order to sustain my sanity, all of a sudden I found myself making a mini-book. Not surprisingly, that book, Down the Garden Path was all about how incredibly long it takes to “make a thing which then exists and maybe it is beautiful.”

I’m still working on the novel. And a collection of short stories. Or two. The post-corporate traumatic stress disorder has worn off and I’m back to making electronic literature again. Sometimes I do these things separately, more often all at once. Each new mini-book begins with a piece of writing, a short piece that I can’t get out of my head. Images accrue around it. Sometimes other texts attach themselves to my text and sometimes there are videos too. Three of the most recent mini-books are based on web projects: Entre Ville, The Cape, and How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome. The web is nice, but nothing beats cutting stuff up with scissors.

Look for these and other mini-books in DISTROBOTO machines around town. Or just ask me next time you see me – there are usually some in my purse.
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Expozine Sunday

Expozine Sunday was only slightly less insane than Expozine Saturday. Plenty insane for six hours sitting in a church basement selling mini-books.

A mini-book is one-sixteenth of 8.5 x 11. I had six. I laid them out in a grid to make it look like I had more. That’s what I like, lots of small things. Five rows of six and every time someone bought a book, I replaced it. Nature hates a gaping hole. I’m not obsessive compulsive, I’m not obsessive compulsive, I kept saying. At first I thought I wasn’t selling very many. Because I was sitting next to Sherwin Tija’s wildly popular Scrabble pins. So many people leaning over my table to look at his. What the heck, I figured. It’s a good day to study belt buckles. There were some very cool ones. My favourite: a monogrammed painting of a tractor. Only two zippers spotted down.

By my initial calculations, by the end of the day I’d sold 35 mini-books. Not bad. On closer inspection my cash tally indicated I’d sold 42 mini-books. So much for my careful record keeping. I must not be obsessive compulsive after all. 42 books in 6 hours works out to 7 books an hour, one every 8.5 minutes. Insert Count Dracula laughter please.

Of course the best part of Expozine is running into people, hanging out with friends, having random semi-profound and/or silly encounters, drinking beer and of course buying zines. I bought a zine called The Last Thumbnail Picture Show by a guy named Adam Thomlison for this line in it: “Ignoramus. (that’s French for regret).” I bought a zine called Bela Lugosi is Speaking from The Unkindness of Ravens Press because the drawings are as relentlessly beautiful as the text is wry: “if you look long enough it becomes hard to tell vampires from unicorns and unicorns from vampires.” Unicorns hardly ever come up in vampire-themed stuff. Impressive. I bought a bunch of nudie postcards from Textanuedes and a zine called Culture and Other Shocks from All Thumbs Press because the girls at the table were drinking a fifth of Canadian Club in a self-professed attempt to buy local. I’d tell you about this other zine I bought called My First Trip to Florida, Which Was Mostly Spent in a Boatyard, by Michelle Sayer, but it’s going to be a present for someone who reads this blog regularly.

My friend Freda Gutman gave me a beautiful little book about her recent exhibition, Notes From the 20th, which was at the Cambridge Galleries earlier this year. My friend Howard gave me some zines cause last time I saw him I gave him a zines. I quite liked his Farmer Farmerstein explanation of the origin of the expression “Fuck the Earth” but, he complained, some find his stuff offensive. Everything’s relative. One guy sat at a table across from me for five hours and then came over to tell me I made my shirt look good. Whatever. I refrained from telling him to fuck the earth. On a way more hopeful note, I traded two copies of my How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome mini-book for two copies of Ms. Elisabeth Belliveau’s lovely Italy zine, Draw Around you and Hope because those two go so well together. Elisabeth’s new book-book, The Great Hopeful Someday, is launching at the amazing-but-true new Drawn & Quarterly bookstore on Sunday, December 2 at 7PM. 211 rue Bernard ouest, Montreal.
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Mini-Books at Expozine

I spent the better part of the afternoon zine shopping and socializing at the 6th annual Expozine. It was PACKED. Kind of overwhelming. In a good way. Glad I got my browsing in today ’cause I’m going to have a table tomorrow and won’t be able to wander aimlessly around and around and around. I’ll be selling mini-books. Including such favorites as:

Entre Ville
The Cape
How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome
Down the Garden Path
Evening
Searching for Volcanoes
and The Amazing Real Life Adventures of Auntie V and Isaac the Retorical Wonder Dog

$2 each. Come on down.

Expozine
Sunday, November 25, 2007, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
5035 St-Dominique (Église Saint-Enfant Jésus, between St-Joseph and Laurier, near Laurier Métro).
Free admission.
. . . . .

ANNOUNCING EXPOZINE 2007

Expozine annual small press, comic and zine fair has been running in Montreal for six years now. I’ve missed it for the past two years in a row, for very good but not very interesting reasons mostly related to not being in the country. This year’s event is still two months away, but registration is already open and I have booked a table for Sunday, November 25, 2007, mostly just so I make sure remember to stay in town that weekend.

This year Expozine will take place on Saturday, November 24 and Sunday, November 25, 2007, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 5035 St-Dominique (Église Saint-Enfant Jésus, between St-Joseph and Laurier, near Laurier Métro). Free admission.

This incredible event brings together over 250 creators of all kinds of printed matter – from books to zines to visual art and comics – in both English and French. In the past six years, Expozine has become one of North America’s largest small press fairs, attracting thousands of visitors as well as exhibitors from as far afield as Chicago, Toronto, Ottawa, and Quebec City! It is one of the city’s cultural success stories, and due to its ever-increasing growth, this year’s edition will be expanded to two days.

Expozine brings together a multitude of publications and printed works that are often difficult to find in the first place, much less altogether in the same room! The result is a rare opportunity to peruse the work of hundreds of young and emerging authors, publishers and artists, and to see what the winners of last year’s Expozine Alternative Press Awards are up to. Not to be missed!

To reserve a table at Expozine, register before November 12, 2007 http://www.expozine.ca/en/index.php

For information on becoming a sponsor, and thus gaining good karma and great indi-street cred, contact expozine at archivemontreal dot org or call 514-282-0146.
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Deleted Zines in Broken Pencil


My friend Nathaniel G. Moore wrote an article all about the mini-books I used to make before I stopped making mini-books for a while and then started again. Isn’t that awesome? Nathaniel really is irrepressible. Don’t even try repressing him. No, instead what you should do is go out and buy the new issue of Broken Pencil. You know, the magazine of culture and the independent arts. Issue 33. In his feature article – Deleted Zines: Digging the Dirt on Ex-Zinesters – Mr. N. G. Moore asks: Where Are They Now? Why Are They Now? Where For Art They Now? I know the answer to some of these questions, but I’m not dishing. Go buy the magazine. And look for my un-deleted and totally twenty-first century mini-books from a Distroboto machine near you.

Nathaniel G. Moore: http://www.notho.net

BROKEN PENCIL: http://www.brokenpencil.com

DISTROBOTO: http://www.distroboto.archivemontreal.org/

EXPOZINE: http://http://www.expozine.ca/
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Expozine 2006

Expozine – Montreal’s annual small press, comic and zine fair – is now in it’s fifth year! This year’s edition will take place on Saturday November 25, 2006 from 11 am to 6 pm, at 5035 St-Dominique, between St-Joseph and Laurier.

This incredible event brings together over 200 creators of all kinds of printed matter in both English and French. In the past five years, Expozine has grown to become one of North America’s largest small press fairs, attracting thousands of visitors as well as exhibitors from as far afield as Chicago, Toronto, Ottawa, and Quebec City! This year’s edition promises to be the biggest yet!

To reserve a table at Expozine, fill out the online registration form before November 1, 2006: http://www.expozine.ca. You may also register by phone by calling 514-278-4879, or in person at Monastiraki, 5478 St-Laurent corner St-Viateur, from Wednesday to Sunday from 11-5 p.m.

Expozine is also looking for sponsors. For information on becoming a sponsor: expozine [at] archivemontreal.org or call 514-282-0146.
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