Touring Newfoundland with The March Hare

As West Country folks have done for centuries, I’m preparing to depart from balmy Plymouth for blustery Newfoundland for a week on the road with The March Hare, Atlantic Canada’s largest and certainly most eclectic poetry festival, in which:

Traditional stories alternate with contemporary poems, emerging writers appear alongside established writers, local performers share the stage with performers from all over the world, and all of them are accorded the same courtesy. While long-term achievement may be given the nod of respect in the form of an extra two or three minutes at the podium, the time allotments are tight and more or less equal. There are no stars at the March Hare.

I’ve been timing various pieces and it turns out everything I’ve ever written can be read aloud in eight minutes and thirty seconds. I’ll be reading a mix of new and old work, including Air Holes, Notes on the Voyage of Owl and Girl, and Once Upon a Tide, a print iteration of which will appear in Arc Poetry Magazine this month.

Mostly I’m just looking forward to listening, meeting new people, and getting to see more of this wonderfully wild island.

Here are my dates:

Tuesday, March 7th, 8:00
Chidley’s Place, Renews

Wednesday, March 8th, 8:00
St. Patrick’s Parish Hall, Tilting, Fogo Island

Thursday, March 9th, 7:30
Gander Hotel, Gander

Friday, March 10th, 8:00
Swirsky’s, Corner Brook

The full program is online here:

WordFest: Banff Distinguished Author Reading

I’ll be reading from Words the Dog Knows at WordFest Saturday, October 17, 2009, at The Banff Centre’s Eric Harvie Theatre at 7:00pm, with Emily St. John Mandel and The Distinguished Banff Author, Douglas Coupland. Renowned for his wit and honesty, Douglas Coupland presents his latest work Generation A, once again capturing the spirit of a generation with a social commentary on ever-evolving pop culture. Coupland is joined by debut novelists and online experts J.R. Carpenter and Emily St. John Mandel. This event is sponsored by The Banff Centre.

Tickets are $20.00, $10.00 for students and seniors. Enter to win tickets – call WordFest at 403.237.9068 or click here for more information.

WordFest is an annual readers and writers Festival featuring a broad range of events enhances the interests of the communities WordFest serves. The Festival is complemented by supplementary events throughout the year. WordFest is further committed to an extensive youth engagement program, Book Rapport, as well as to various community outreach activities.
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E-Poetry Festival – Barcelona 2009

Next week I will present in absentia at the 5th edition of the E-Poetry Festival, which will take place in Barcelona May 24th-27, 2009. Artistic and academic events will take place at key Barcelona venues such as the the University of Barcelona, the Barcelona Center for Contemporary Culture (CCCB) and the Caixaforum, providing authors the opportunity to present their works to a public curious about new poetry and artistic trends employing technology and communication during the Setmana de la Poesia.

The event is organized by UOC’s research group Hermeneia, with the collaboration of Electronic Poetry Center (University of Buffalo) and the Laboratoire Paragraph (Univ. Paris VIII). Keynote speakers will include Roberto Simanowski (Brown University) and Jean Clément (Université Paris 8).

E-Poetry is an international biennial conference and festival of digital poetry. It is the most significant digital literary gathering in the field, bringing together an impressive roster of Electronic Literature’s most influential practitioners from around the world. Authors and researchers will present the latest research and the newest, most important works of electronic literature will be presented. Presenting at E-Poetry will bring my work to the attention of an influential international audience of critics, academics, practitioners and the public.

For more information or to register, please visit:

in absentia is a web-based project that uses fiction, digital images, historical maps HTML, javascript and the Google Maps API to address issues of gentrification and its erasures in the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal. The result is an interactive non-linear narrative map of interconnected “postcard” stories written from the point of view of former tenants of Mile End. In recent years many long-time low-income immigrant and elderly neighbours have been forced out of their homes by economic decisions made in their absence. The neighbourhood is haunted now, with their stories. Our stories. My building was sold during the production of in absentia. Faced with imminent eviction I began to write as if I was no longer here, about a Mile End that is no longer here. The Mile End depicted in in absentia is a slightly fantastical world, a shared memory of the neighbourhood as it never really was but as it could have been. The sterile and slightly sinister “developer’s-eye-view” of the neighbourhood offered by Google Maps satellite imaging has been populated with stories, interrupted with silhouette voids, intimate traces of the sudden disappearances of characters (fictional or otherwise) from the places (real or imagined) where they once lived.

At E-Poetry I will present the piece by giving a brief contextual overview of the work and then read aloud from a number of the stories contained in the work.
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Interrupt IRQ

Interrupt is a festival celebrating writing and performance in digital media in Providence, Rhode Island, Friday October 17th – Sunday the 19th. Events are hosted by Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. Participating artists will share work that in some way addresses the theme of the festival: Interrupt.

Why “Interrupt”? In computing, a hardware interrupt request or IRQ is used to prioritize the execution of certain processes over others. It is a command sent to the processor to get its attention, signaling the need to initiate a new operation. A series of IRQ roundtables will promote the maximum possible open discussion amongst all those attending. There will be a number of prominent, named critics, theorists, and artists who will have been asked to speak, but they will not give papers or even ‘panel-style’ presentations. Instead they will prepare an IRQ. I have been asked to speak. Being invited to interrupt is a rare opportunity. Here is my IRQ:

When I first heard the theme of the Interrupt festival I thought: Perfect! I’m a champion interrupter; everyone says so.

One of my earliest memories is of my mother telling me to stop interrupting. I remember standing next to her, waiting for it to be my turn to speak. There was never a break in the conversation. At first I thought this was because my mother was loquacious, from the Latin: loqu, to speak. But interlocution is speech between two or more persons, I reasoned. Surely, eventually, my turn would come.

An interlocutor is someone who takes part in a conversation. An interloper, in my experience, is someone who would like to take part in a conversation but who is unable to interpret the complex laws of interlocution.

Gradually I realized that my mother’s imperative that I stop interrupting arose from her disavowal of the interruption inherent in interlocution. The word “interlocution” is the past participle of interloqu.

inter + loqu = to interrupt + to speak.

My mother’s preferred modus loqui was the soliloquy.

solus + loqu = alone + to speak.

It was never going to be my turn to speak. So I learned to write instead.

My most recent electronic literature project, in absentia, hacks the Google Maps API to interrupt a sterile satellite view of my neighbourhood with short stories of displacement written from multiple points of view, by multiple authors, in multiple languages. In recent years many of my long-time, low-income neighbours have been forced out by gentrification. The neighbourhood is haunted now, with their stories. Our stories. Our building is for sale; we may be next. Faced with imminent eviction, and once again excluded from the official conversation, my only recourse is to interrupt. With silhouette voids, cryptic signage and quick glimpses. Some one has to say something. These small details of our daily lives are not visible from space and are all too soon to be erased.

Here is one excerpt from in absentia:

Our building is for sale. Our landlord has been making us crazy with renovations that we don’t want, superficial fixes that surely won’t fool anyone. Last weekend he decided he didn’t need to warn us in advance that he’d be replacing the front steps to our second-floor apartment because, technically, the repairs weren’t inside our apartment. Likewise, this week he didn’t warn us that he’d be painting the new steps, and the cast-iron fence out front, and all day we were trapped inside while the rust-proof-paint fumes wafted through our rooms. Yesterday morning he over-heard me calling him a fucking moron. I’m warning you, he shook his fist like a sitcom villain. This morning he affixed a NO BIKES sign to the freshly painted front fence in the exact same spot where I’ve been locking my bike for the past ten years. I guess he means business. I guess this means war.
J. R. Carpenter || in absentia

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Interrupt Festival at Brown – October 17-19, 2008

Early next week I’ll interrupt my Words the Dog Knows book tour before it’s even started by heading down to Providence, Rhode Island to participate in Interrupt at Brown.

Interrupt is a festival celebrating writing and performance in digital media, busting onto the scene in Providence from Friday October 17th through Sunday the 19th. Events are hosted by Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. The festival is continuing in the tradition of Brown’s E-Fest, but is expanding/augmenting it, and also streamlining into Pixilerations.

Participating artists will share work that in some way addresses the theme of the festival: Interrupt. In computing, an interrupt is a command sent to the processor to get its attention, and indicates a need for change. We understand “interruption” as a useful metaphor for imagining the role of digital arts practices in contemporary society. The festival is being organized with the aim of showcasing arts practices hybridized not only by digital mediation, but by a spectrum of cultural practices including electronic poetry, information design, net art, video art, interactive music, and performance art.

On Friday October 17th at 1:30 pm in the McCormack Family Theatre, I’ll present in absentia – an electronic literature project that hacks the Google Maps API to haunt the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal with postcard stories to and from tenants (past or present, fictional or otherwise) who have been effected by gentrification and it’s erasures.

On Friday October 17th at 4:30 pm in the McCormack Family Theatre, I’ll be one of four named speakers in an IRQ ROUNDTABLE. Here, in theory, is how the IRQ ROUNDTABLE sessions will work: At each roundtable session, four or five of the named speakers will have the right – using their IRQ – to interrupt the discussion, at any time, and hold the floor for a maximum of five minutes (no minimum). All attendant-participants will together choose one of the named speakers to either begin the roundtable discussions with an intervention – thus using up their IRQ – or to nominate another speaker to begin. Once a speaker has completed their interruption, discussion is open to all attendant-participants, including IRQs. Discussion will be strictly chaired: all interruptions of all kinds must pass through the CPU. The remaining speakers with IRQs are asked to attend carefully to the discussion and, rather in the manner of an old-school, no-ritual Quaker meeting, listen for the moment when their prepared IRQ would be most beneficial to the discussion processes. A named speaker will begin the roundtable discussions with an intervention, and so use up their IRQ. They will be chosen either by a straw-poll of all attendant-participants or by chance operation. If the chosen IRQ does not wish to begin discussions, they may nominate another IRQ.

Of Interrupt, one of the festival’s organizers, John Cayley, writes:

The Pounding neo-Beat of Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries and their Flash-languaged jazz world; Alan Sondheim’s misdirections of abject ‘second life’ languaging into the avatar dance of Foofwa d’Imobilité; Laetitia Sonami’s alternative controller sculpted music theatre; Eugenio Tisselli’s web-based hacks, cutting and pasting, plugging and hiding gobbets of real life and death into our glossy Facebooks; Marko Niemi coding Concrete for the screen. These are the initial provocations that we will interrupt and ask to interrupt us. Interrupt chooses to present digital art work that is, in some sense, language-driven. While in active cooperation with other disciplines — music, cultural studies, performance — Interrupt’s organization and curation emanates from Brown University’s Literary Arts Program. For some time now we have been confronted with questions of where ‘the literary’ will be found in practices of digital art. Now we ask, “Can we interrupt these practices in ways that will leave us with forms in which the literary can live and die? Can we create events to formally interrupt practices that we already value as art, and allow them to reveal their necessary forms, but do so without harm to new cultures that these practices offer?” We no longer want to bring them to book, but to see whether on not they hold out forms for a book to come.

After Interrupt, I’ll head down to New York City to launch Words the Dog Knows on Thursday, October 23, 2008 at KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, 7-9 pm (free). I’ll be joined on stage and possibly interrupted by my dear friends. Karen Russell, Nora Maynard and Corey Frost. For more information on this event, view the KGB Bar Calendar.
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Out of the Box: Adventures in Electronic Literature

Since the computer was invented, writers have been using it to forge new literary forms. This year the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival moves into the cutting-edge field of Electronic Literature. Join us for an exploration of topics ranging from the early days of hypertext fiction to the latest in narrative gaming with an all-star panel of authors who write beyond the book and way outside the box:

J. R. Carpenter’is a two-time winner of the CBC Quebec Short Story Competition and a Web Art Finalist in the Drunken Boat PanLiterary Awards 2006. Her novel Words the Dog Knows is forthcoming from Conundrum in the fall of 2008. Her short fiction and electronic literature have been published and exhibited internationally and can be found on

Jeff Parker is the author of the novel Ovenman and the short story collection The Back of the Line, a collaboration with artist William Powhida. His work in and on hypertext has appeared in The Electronic Book Review, The Iowa Review Web, The Believer, and other publications. He is the Acting Director of the M.A. Program in English in the Field of Creative Writing at the University of Toronto.

Jason E. Lewis is a poet, digital media artist and software designer. His creative work has been featured in exhibitions internationally. He conducts experiments in visual language, text and typography at his research studio

Alice van der Klei holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature on hypertext as a site of memory practices. She hypothesized that hypermedia because of its rhizomatic nature allows the reader to become aware of the workings of memory and of cultural institutionalisation better than any other cultural practice. She is currently working at the NT2 Laboratory and a lecturer in Études littéraires at the Université du Québec à Montréal.

This event will be hosted by Nora Young of Spark, CBC Radio’s audio blog of smart and unexpected trendwatching:

Saturday, May 3 at 7PM
Room: Régence A.
Delta Centre-ville Hotel, 777 University Street (metro Square Victoria).
You can buy tickets at ADMISSION by telephone at 514-790-7245 or 1 800 361-4595 or on their website,

The 10th Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival will take place April 30 to May 4, 2008. For more information visit
Blue Metropolis Foundation is a non-profit organization located in Montreal. Its core purpose is to bring people of different cultures together to share the pleasures of reading and writing in English, French and other languages. To this end it produces a range of literary activities, educational and literacy programmes, including the multilingual Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival. Blue Metropolis Foundation plays a leadership role in the literary, educational and literacy community in the Montreal area as well as nationally and internationally.
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