One of the standout poetry projects for me this year (beside the BookThug sweep of the Canadian Governor General’s award for poetry shortlist and ultimately the winner of said prize) is Sachiko Murakami’s Project Rebuild (Read about the project here) which is an experiment in radical collaboration. The project is created out of the compelling question: “Can you inhabit a poem?” You can go and “renovate” poems on this site and I invite you, specifically, to renovate mine. The multiple iterations of the poems show how language can move from one idea to another, while still maintaining a trace of the original, almost like an elaborate game of telephone.
The project is connected to her second book of poetry, Rebuild which I reviewed here. Her book asks us to look at the ridiculousness of the structures we inhabit and the identities we attempt to derive from them. She looks closely at the city of Vancouver (where I live – think Sydney) where the architectural splendour signifies “Enough failed attempts at beauty” to “Let the home stand for us,” even though “There’s nowhere to hang a metaphor.” The repetition of the structure indicates a civic reliance on sameness built into the visible history of the city. She uses a housing type called the “Vancouver Special” to show how this “sameness” comes to represent the identity of this Canadian city while at the same time showing that change isn’t just always possible, change is the thing itself. In the end she asks, “What is poetry but a rental unit of language?”
Jacqueline Turner has published three books with ECW Press: Seven into Even (2006), Careful (2003), and Into the Fold (2000). She writes poetry reviews for The Georgia Straight, and is on the board of Artspeak. She teaches creative and critical writing at Simon Fraser University and Emily Carr University of Art + Design. She was Queensland’s inaugural poet-in-residence at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Brisbane, Australia in 2005, a poet-in-residence in Tasmania in 2006, and a guest writer at the Queensland Poetry Festival in 2007 and the Tasmanian Poetry Festitval in 2010. Last year she read at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York. Her most recent publication was from Nomados, called The Ends of the Earth. Her work has appeared in anthologies —How the Light Gets In (2009), Companions and Horizons, (2005), and The Small Cities Anthology (2005).