|I am keen to introduce the poets: photo by Ryan Fitzpatrick
|Daniel Zomparelli and David McGimpsey read at Green College yesterday, as the third pairing in this year’s series of Play Chthonics: New Canadian Readings at the University of British Columbia. Here is an audio capture of the reading, which includes their responses to questions after the reading. Daniel read new work from his iPad, including a poem about Kimmy Gibbler that he had written that day, dedicated, he said, to David McGimpsey. McGimpsey read from his recent collections: Li’l Bastard (2012), which he describes as a sequence of “chubby sonnets,“ and Sitcom (2007), some of which he noted involved re-casting text from Timon of Athens. Both poets engaged in their own versions of what I think is a kind of pop-culture code-switching, coaxing and inverting lyric from pulverized mass media language and image flows. Zomparelli read a pair of poetic synopses of gay porn films. His poems and McGimpsey’s play with the ways in which, as viewers, we’re alienated from experience by screen or headset and, as participants, we’re thoroughly immersed in and seduced by the variegated and empty textures of spectacle, of hubbub: “That Taylor Swift song is not about you,” McGimpsey writes in sonnet 11, “David McGimpsey likes – then unlikes – this.” The reflexive play, the give and take of mass culture that interpellates us (making us feel as if a song were about you, were calling you) even as it refuses us any shared humanity, informs McGimpsey’s poetics, and lends them something of a pathos of misrecognition: “I tried / to recall lyrics to a pop song once loved.” An “I” – like a dropped syllable – feels as if it’s missing from that last line, which is already metrically slightly ungainly, one syllable over its normal count: a spectre of subjectivity, of a self that wants to call itself into existence amid the tangle and meshes of discourse swirling from phones and pads and pods; but trying is not recalling, and recalling is not reanimating. Words, for both of these poets, seem to act as placeholders, markers of wanting, of what – remaindered and unrealized – might still despite everything get to be called human love.
Sincere thanks to Green College for their ongoing and generous support of this reading series, and to the Improvisation, Community and Social Practice research initiative for helping to sustain the series this year. Copyright for this work remains with the artists.