Events coming up…

HI! It’s been a while, and I need to update some of the pages and doings on here, but for now I have few things I should mention:

  1. I’m in this anthology! Come on out to the launch: “It’s The PAC’N HEAT Launch Party! Come celebrate with us at See-Scape on Thursday Nov. 10th from 7 PM to 10 PM! Check out the video games! Drink some drinks! Buy some books!”



2. I’m teaching an Uncreative Writing Workshop at Naked Heart Festival (Saturday, November 12th at 10:30am):


Info on my uncreative writing stuffs:

3. I’ll be presenting a paper/on a panel for the Diasporic Joyce: the 2017 James Joyce Conference in Toronto:


4. I’ll be reading at words(on)stages on January 19 at The Central


And still working on my novel manuscript. It’s been an adventure.


On the state of poetry.

Frida Kahlo’s prosthetic leg

I keep wondering how I’m going to start this. Do I rehash everything that has happened in the last few months in poetry or do I just dive in? What can I impart that will illuminate a new thought to someone for a change for the better? I can’t really add much more than what I feel. I am person full emotions. They cloud me sometimes.

For now here are a few pieces I’ve already enjoyed and empathize with:

* Vanessa Place, The Mongrel Coalition and Sector 17: Notes on Poetry, Violence and Community

* On Being-Hated: Conceptualism, the Mongrel Coalition, the House That Built Me by Trisha Low: 

* On Vanessa Place, Gone With the Wind, and the Limit Point of Certain Conceptual Aesthetics by John K:


The first time I wrote about the poetry world was when I had finished reading Kenneth Goldsmith’s Uncreative Writing. It prompted me to start my James Joyce projects. A new world had opened up to me in writing. Soon afterward I met Goldsmith and he introduced me to some of my local poetry heroes. I was so taken aback. He introduced me like I was “a very interesting and important poet.” I was overwhelmed with his kindness. Around the same time frame, I met Vanessa Place at an art show here in Toronto that featured conceptual poets and artists. We were both in line for the washroom and she asked me if I was a poet too. She suggested I should visit Los Angeles and take in the poetry scene there. I started reading on her work and it inspired me greatly.

I took on my lyrical and conceptual projects with fervour I hadn’t had since I was a teenager. A combination of writer’s block, a desk job, and then becoming a mother put all my writing on the back burner. It’s still very exciting to me to be in a world where I can produce work for myself and have others critique it, let alone be interested in it. I really haven’t done much, but film and literary criticism help me practice and expand my avenues. I would never have thought of turning my nerdy pursuits into a career. It’s a career I feel very passionate for and drives me. Words mean so much to me and I am very protective of them. Letting them go is cathartic and I’ve since learned it’s important for me to keep writing.


Then in April this happened:

Not only had that happened (I can’t even bring myself to appropriate that child’s name on this post. He’s suffered enough.), but conceptual poetry was to blame for all the problems of the poetry world which included racism, sexism, elitism, and add all the -isms you want here. Conceptual poetry had to be abolished because it was the platform of the rich, white, and privileged. Not only that, but somehow my words ended up in different news media platforms. Some of them had misconstrued and cut up my writing to suit their opinion and agenda, misidentified me as a Goldsmith student (I looked up to him as if he was mentor), or black (I’m mixed Hispanic and I don’t appreciate that a paper took it upon themselves to identify as they saw fit without consulting me first), while entirely dismissing my reasoned defence for conceptualism. I got a lot of support for it, but it didn’t feel right.

The one person that could have answered my confusion ran away because their work was being continually questioned and he was being continually burned. I still wait for an answer. Not that I’m owed one. I may have a lost a friend/mentor in the process.

I have no regrets.


I’d known about the @VanessaPlace twitter account and added it on because I was interested in reactions to it. I was surprised no one had already. I wasn’t offended by it because Gone With The Wind is already so offensive. I also didn’t see it as my place to say anything because as a woman of mixed heritage, I’m still navigating that part of my identity with an awareness of my own privilege. I live in mixed girl limbo and that has it’s own problems that most don’t concern themselves with. No one speaks for me and I don’t speak for everyone. The outrage against Vanessa Place’s piece is right and I understand it. Everyone has the right to react the way they want to against racism or if they feel an injustice. No one wants to hear the art behind it (you can read the art behind in those links above). No one wants to hear what VP or KG were thinking and why they did what they did. They just want to condone and abolish.

That’s well within their rights to condone and call for action. Abolish? I’m not sure of that yet.

I am very grateful for the discourse this has provoked. My eyes were partially closed and now they’re wide open. Decolonize language. Decolonize your soul. But only against conceptualism? Really? So which poets of colour are being taught in school? Are we positive that no lyrical poets have ever been racist, sexist, or elitist? It’s all the same boiling pot of vanilla and we have a giant problem all around with this right now. Poetry has always had their cliques, it still doesn’t make it right. Decolonize all of it. Restructure all of it. No holds barred and no excuses. I demand you decolonize your own worlds for you.

No one prepared me for the onslaught of hate against a creative/uncreative process. For years I’ve been hearing the death of poetry, the death of lyricism, or the death of conceptualism. Pick a side and kill the other. Denounce and silence the brand of poetry that you hate. The “I” of lyricism will fall at the hands of conceptualists and the robots of conceptualism will be beheaded at the hands of the lyricists. Poetry right now is filled with feuding families pointing smug fingers at one another. At first I was amused, now everyone is hurting. Guess what? Poetry is personal again now.

The thing I’ve always loved about poetry is that I get to play with words. I get to experiment despite the colour of my skin or the constraints or traditions I utilize. I want to use both English and Spanish to explore the languages I grew up with and add a new one: Chibcha (the extinct native language of Colombia). Whether that be creatively or un-creatively, I have every right to do what I want.

Is conceptualism stained by racism? Yeah, it is, but so is lyricism. All of it is stained. I grew up speaking Spanish at home and learning English at school. These are two languages brought by conquerors that eradicated my ancestral people and their native tongue along with it. We use English every day on social media. At least most of us do.


I’m still very confused and hurt by all the things said against all the camps. Seriously, poetry camps and coteries! Not that I matter in all of this any way. But Poetry (with a capital P) matters to me. It’s where all my forms of expression originate. It comes from a mind that aspires to be a poet; one that still has problems saying, “I am a poet,” because to say that means you earned a mastery of words. It’s an audacious claim. I don’t not hold a mastery of words. I’m a writer and deciphering the world with writing poetry and reading poetry is part of my learning process. It fulfills me and delights me. It will continue to do so. But now I’ve got this anger. This angering energy empowers me to make a deep change in how I use lyricism and conceptualism. I mean, look at this awesome work!:

I love the idea of decolonizing language with conceptualism. You can do it lyrically, but the possibilities become limitless in a cut up and paste world. KG and VP have offended and I hope that more poets offend and provoke. I don’t believe in art that’s sole purpose is to offend. I believe in art that opens eyes, changes perspectives, or makes people see things they were once blind to. As it is, these controversies have made me think about the world of criticism, how it must change and how it must start proving its worth. But that’s another world altogether.

You will not repress me because I have a voice. You may judge my methods of expression, but I have a strong voice, and I will use it as I see fit. You may critique me or condone me, but no one will silence me.

I come from people that matter, my parents, my family, my chosen family, my teachers, my mentors, but I follow no one. And I continue to learn. Full heart, clear eyes, and pen at the ready.

Learn to know thyself.

Poetry is freedom. There is freedom in speech. The poet is the world’s unpaid politician.

Some random thoughts after Avant-Canada 2014.


We use the term Conceptual Writing in the broadest sense, so that it intersects other terms such as: allegory, appropriation, piracy, flarf, identity theft, sampling, constraint and others. Conceptual Writing, in fact, might be best defined not by the strategies used but by the expectations of the readership or thinkership.” – Place, Vanessa, and Robert Fitterman. Notes on Conceptualisms. Brooklyn, NY: Ugly Duckling Presse ;, 2009. Foreword..

I should really entitle this “After Avant-Canada 2014 and finally watching Jorodowsky’s Dune.” I’m a little discombobulated after watching the film. The overall theme of it being of opening the mind, but most of all, an artist’s passion for bringing their vision to fruition. Therefore, if I am set apart like puzzle pieces at the moment, like puzzle pieces this piece will be. This is also my blog and thus I can write in whatever form I want within whatever structures I chose. I am free to say anything, even if it comes across as nothing. It is the concept that matters and the lack of delineation that defines me as whatever it is that I am in what I do. Honestly, I don’t know what I do, but more on that later.


My starting point is taken from Vanessa Place and Robert Fitterman’s book, Notes on Conceptualisms. The book, blue and pocket-sized, reads like a manifesto manufactured from a conversation which metamorphosed stream of consciousness.  It’s a manifesto of nothing and everything in what is popularly termed as “avant-garde” writing.

Ideas stem from various seeds labelled archetypes, experience, DNA, nature, nurture, and all the things that make up a sentient being. The seeds are dominoes set up to fall forward, eventually gaining momentum in their falls until the last domino releases an energy spark in its culmination, setting a toy rocket free in the end. The toy rocket is the idea in its full form. The idea/toy rocket also goes through a similar sequence of events that are less theoretical and are more material based. The reason for this is that the person who has the idea must realize it in order to give justice to the idea’s formation. The seed must flower to pollinate in other minds.This last part, the materialization of the idea, is not as important as the processes by which the idea is first formed and is not as imperative as the idea itself. The idea is all.


Last month, I was invited by Gregory Betts to chair the panel entitled, “The Thinkership of Conceptual Literature.” I immediately (albeit very enthusiastically) accepted. Those on the panel:

Christian Bök (Calgary)—“To Ward Off a Diabolical Poetry.”
Darren Wershler (Concordia)—“Everyday Conceptualism.”
Derek Beaulieu (Alberta College of Art and Design)—“Words to be looked at but not read / Music to be heard but not listened to.”
Helen Hajnozky (Independent Poet)—“Lyric Conceptual Writing: A Study of Contemporary Canadian Women Poets.”
Natalie Simpson (Independent Poet)—“ TAKE WHAT YOU CAN AND LEAVE THE REST: Women Writers and Conceptualism.”

I introduced them as a coterie of scientists, thinkers, poets, writers, and artists. I would say that all of the panels and attendees could be defined as such. To me, it was an important event in a critical time where many seek out definition where there might not be one to be found yet. At least, I don’t believe it’s something available to us or are we given that power to label it at this conjecture. Definition is valuable mostly for the purpose of constraint. Nevertheless, in order speak about the experimental we must give it a name.

I’ve been writing poetry since I was a kid, and conceptualism didn’t really enter the fray in my writing until I was in my thirties. However, conceptualism and the avant-garde has always been a big influence. My appropriation, remixing, and re-writing projects were influenced by the bellicose writing movements of my time. Uncreative writing and conceptual writing is nothing new. In fact, the quality that drives me to these movements isn’t their rebellious textures, but its their nature, that which is closest the “idea;” the word “idea,” the thought “idea,” “idea,” fascinates me.

The conceptual writer writes out of the formation of a concept. A conference like Avant-Canada is a world plenteous of idea manufacturers whose experiments and alternative perspectives are birthed in the universe of ideas. We’re like Dr. Frankenstein’s creating gallimaufries of monsters because we can. We live in a world of “we can.” The internet and social media has given us that freedom and we must frequently stop and ask ourselves, “What are we doing here?”

Taking the analogy of the dominoes, are we the person setting up the dominoes? Are we the dominoes? Are we the spark, or are we the rocket? Looking beyond that, are we gear or cod in that machinery, or, when it is set in motion, are we even part of it at all?

These are all thoughts and questions that come to my mind after a conference like this. As I was watching Jorodowsky elucidate his vision for Dune, his passion for the project was so palpable that it became all encompassing. For a few moments, he becomes so expressive that his eyes take over the screen and I wondered if Herbert’s Dune was even a part of that vision, or if the vision itself was bigger than the director himself (I believe it was, considering the amount of everything the director had envisioned for it). In various parts of the film, his Dune is termed as “ahead of its time.”

If you look back at the films, books, and art of the seventies and eighties, a lot of what was predicted aesthetically and artistically, never came to be. There are no polygon hats at art shows, flying cars, teleportation devices…ok, I could go on. Also, these things might exist, but they’re not in the form that we predicted them to be. This has led to a surge of retro-futuristic art (8 bit, and Killian Eng comes to mind), music (Lazerhawk, and Drive soundtrack), and in a small way film (Beyond The Black Rainbow – but also this viewed from that film’s aesthetics and soundtrack, of which similar can be seen in Under The Skin, as well.). I believe popular culture aims to recapture the aesthetics of seventies and eighties futurism because it is still trying to catch up with the overwhelming amount of quick technological growth it has put itself through. In many ways, conceptual writing is trying to catch up with the amount of growth or overwhelming output its manufactured with the ease because of technology. We find ourselves trying to argue against or in favour of conceptual writing’s existence because we can’t stop to define it. The assembly line or idea factory is just too fast. When we attempt to define it, we stagnate, the assembly line slows down. Don’t let it slow down! It’s not in our natures! Like Frankenstein’s monster there are so many components we don’t know what to do next.

“Conceptual Writing, in fact, might be best defined not by the strategies used but by the expectations of the readership or thinkership.” 

While a person appreciates art, the art piece is taken from the artist and becomes an entirely new piece in the viewer’s mind.  The reader owns the text after it is written and it becomes a new piece in the reader’s mind. By viewing, appreciating, and listening, we are stealing. Never mind that the artist has gifted us their materialization of an idea, we are stealing for a universal comprehension through interpretation. Retro futurism, a taking of old ideas and making them new for now, is a symptom of schema created for the modern thinker’s survival. We own ideas, but no idea is original. Yet, the process by which the idea is formed is unique to its owner. Beyond that, it’s interpretation and reformation.


I met many women on this trip to St. Catharines. Within in the conceptual writing movement, within poetry, there’s a very powerful undercurrent of female poets with activist voices. I mean, by being anything female these days, we are speaking out against thousands of years of ingrained oppression. It was a heavy week of being reminded we are women writers within Can-Lit. So it was healing and rejuvenating to converse and exchange thoughts with these women.

“Radical mimesis is original sin.” – Place, Vanessa, and Robert Fitterman. Notes on Conceptualisms. Brooklyn, NY: Ugly Duckling Presse ;, 2009. 20.

I experiment with words. I remix, remodel, rewrite, and reform what already exists. My basis point has always been from a lyrical point, a creative view because this my nature. However, even when I assemble a work in an “uncreative” place in my mind, the end result reads as an innovation for myself. The only way I can classify that work as is from a poetic mind, thus the label “poet.” But even that label carries connotations with it that do not define most of my work. It’s kind of like I’ve rode with my processes and didn’t stop to think, “What am I doing?”

After watching Jorodowsky’s visions I can only assume that he didn’t care what he was doing. He tried to do it, failed to make it so, but in the end, the world of film ended up making many versions of his idea. His creation. His monster. His concept. His idea.

What did he do? He watched the dominoes fall.


P.S. I will always regret not being able to dance with Fraggles on the last day of the conference.

Also, no one told me Magma was going to be in Dune.


You can find more structured thoughts over at EDITING MODERNISM-

All the processes and thoughts afterward give great pause for the experiences there. I particularily enjoyed: “EVERYTHINGS TOO FUCKD UP TODAY” & THE REVOLUTION CANNOT WAIT: A BRIEF REFLECTION ON THE POLITICAL AT AVANT-CANADA by Eric Schmaltz

Avant Canada in St. Catharines this week.

I’ve been so busy that I’ve forgotten to post here that I’ll be chairing a panel at Avant Canada: Artists, Prophets, Revolutionaries in St. Catharines on Wednesday, November 5th. The panel is:

The Thinkership of Conceptual Literature– The Studio Gallery

Panel Chair: Jacqueline Valencia (Independent Poet)
Christian Bök (Calgary)—“To Ward Off a Diabolical Poetry.”
Darren Wershler (Concordia)—“Everyday Conceptualism.”
Derek Beaulieu (Alberta College of Art and Design)—“Words to be looked at but not read / Music to be heard but not listened to.”
Helen Hajnozky (Independent Poet)—“Lyric Conceptual Writing: A Study of Contemporary Canadian Women Poets.”
Natalie Simpson (Independent Poet)—“ TAKE WHAT YOU CAN AND LEAVE THE REST: Women Writers and Conceptualism.””
I’ll be at the conference for most of the day, but please do check it out for the 5th-7th if you happen to be in the area.
Here’s the poster:
And more info on the schedule can be found here: