#IFOA36 Promo Day

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#IFOA36 Promo Day: October 20, 2015


Celebrate IFOA by tweeting or instagraming your best IFOA photo with our Festival Book Cam, available on our new app! Download the app on Blackberry (Z10 and Legacy), Android or iOS platforms.

The photo could be of one of our IFOA authors, you reading your favourite IFOA 36 book or something else–the more creative, the better. Tweet or instagram your photos throughout the day on Tuesday, October 20 for a chance to win the ultimate IFOA Golden Ticket: 2 tickets to an IFOA event of your choice (excluding the PEN Benefit) + an invitation to our exclusive Welcome Party, where you can rub elbows with some of today’s coolest authors.

Be sure to hashtag your tweets on Tuesday and throughout the Festival using #IFOA36. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and on Instagram!

Five Questions with… Tim Conley

Tim Conley, author of Dance Moves of the Near Future and an upcoming IFOA participant, answered our five questions!

Share this article via Twitter or Facebook for your chance to win two tickets to his event on October 24. Don’t forget to tag @IFOA!

IFOA: Tell us a bit about your new collection of 24 short stories, Dance Moves of the Near Future.Conley, Tim (c) TK

Tim Conley: I’m never entirely comfortable using the word “stories” to characterize much of what’s in Dance Moves, and generally find “fiction” a more elastic term, but readers may and will call these things what they like. However, I am interested in storytelling, and at least a few of the items in Dance Moves are, I think, studies of how stories get shaped and transmitted. Apart from that I can say the book has a commencement address to a graduating class, an inter-dimensional abduction, a security guard who likes to pass his nights naked before the paintings in the art gallery where he works, some questionable flame rites and a levitating egg.

IFOA: The stories in this collection all share a sense of dark humour. Where does this come from?

Conley: At the time of this writing, the Doomsday Clock (created and maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists) is set at three minutes to midnight. Party hats on, everybody, and noise-makers at the ready.

IFOA: Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

Conley: If I felt unqualified to answer the previous question, at this one I must declare outright incompetence. And too there is the magician’s wariness at the possibility of revealing the rabbit’s pedigree. But another way of not exactly answering this question is to say I write because I have to, I write because the voices at night keep talking and I don’t know what else to do at this point but write it all down.

IFOA: How do your collections first take shape?

Conley: Slowly. Individual fictions may come very quickly indeed but a collection, as an architecture, always very gradually. Variety and variation (not at all the same thing) are my point and counterpoint. And I have to surprise myself, on some level, otherwise it’s no fun.

IFOA: What is the best thing you’ve read in the past six months?

Conley: “Best” is too hard to determine. Ali Smith’s How to Be Both and Graham Greene’s In Search of a Character were both memorable, each in their own way. Recently I’ve been reading The Tale of the Heike, in Helen McCullough’s translation. As dense with historical detail (especially matters of royal lineage) as it is with those glancing metaphors of so much Japanese song and poetry, it is told in discreet sections, tasty little scenes and vignettes. A yet longer reading pleasure that I have just begun: Count Harry Kessler’s diaries. Well read and well travelled, this cosmopolitan sans pareil does not merely have a social circle but a wildly unconfined social vector, whose trajectory manages to connect with just about anybody one might dream about knowing from the late 19th century through the rise of modernism. Cocteau, Rilke, Matisse, Sarah Bernhardt, Nietzsche, Degas, Josephine Baker, Ravel, Granville-Barker, Virginia Woolf, Renoir, Stravinsky, Thomas Mann, holy smokes already, holy smokes! And his prose, his perceptions are both acute, both delightful.

Tim Conley is the author of the poetry collections One False Move and Burning City: Poems of Metropolitan Modernity and the short story collection Nothing Could be Further: Thirty Stories. He has also published widely on Joyce, Nabokov and other topics in 20th-century literature. He teaches English at Brock University. Conley presents his latest collection,Dance Moves of the Near Future, with stories marked by precise and engaging prose, dark humour and a demented imagination.

Christian Bök on The Xenotext

Share this post via Twitter or Facebook for your chance to win two tickets to Christian Bök’s IFOA event on October 25. Don’t forget to tag @IFOA!

The Xenotext is a kind of experiment—a literary exercise that explores the aesthetic potential of genetics in the modern milieu, doing so in order to make literal the renowned aphorism of William S. Burroughs, who has declared that “the word is now a virus.” Such an experiment strives to address some of the sociological implications of biotechnology by manufacturing a “xenotext”—a beautiful, anomalous poem, whose “alien words” might subsist, like a harmless parasite, inside the cell of another life form. Bök, Christian

Futurists have already begun to speculate that even now we might store data by encoding textual information into genetic nucleotides, thereby creating “messages” made from DNA, messages that we can implant, like genes, inside cells, where such data might persist, undamaged and unaltered through myriad cycles of mitosis, all the while preserved for recovery and decoding. Genetics has thus endowed biology with a possible literary use, granting every geneticist the power to become a poet in the medium of life.

I have composed my own example of “living poetry” so that, when translated into a gene and then integrated into the cell, the text nevertheless gets “expressed” by the organism, which, in response to this grafted, genetic sequence, begins to manufacture a viable, benign protein—one that, according to the original, chemical alphabet, is itself yet another text. I am thus engineering a primitive bacterium so that it becomes not only a durable archive for storing a poem, but also an operant machine for writing a poem.

I have selected a microbe called Deinococcus radiodurans to be the proposed symbiote for my “xenotext,” since this extremophile resists mutation (scorch it, freeze it, wither it—and still the microbe endures). It can survive exposure to the vacuum of outer space. It can even withstand dosages of gamma rays, 1000 times more lethal than the dosage needed to obliterate a human being. A group of biologists have even gone so far as to suggest that the ancestor of this organism might, in fact, be extraterrestrial in origin.Bok, Xenotext

I believe that such a poem might begin to demonstrate that, through the use of nanoscopic, biological emissaries, we might begin to transmit messages across stellar distances or even epochal intervals—so that, unlike any other cultural artifact so far produced (except perhaps for the Pioneer probes or the Voyager probes), such a poem, stored inside the genome of a bacterium, might conceivably outlast terrestrial civilization itself, persisting like a secret message in a bottle flung at random into a giant ocean.

Even though poets may pay due homage to the “immortality” of their heritage, few have ever imagined that we might actually create a literary artifact capable of outliving the existence of our species—an artifact that might testify to our cultural presence upon the planet until the very hour when the Sun itself explodes. I hope that, by fulfilling this experiment, we might encourage other poets to consider the long-term timeline of our aesthetic evolution—to think beyond the formal limits of our own inevitable extinction.

Christian Bök is a poet, conceptual artist and professor of English at the University of Calgary. He is the author of Crystallography, a pataphysical encyclopedia nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and of Eunoia, a bestselling work of experimental literature awarded the Griffin Prize for Poetic Excellence. He has also earned many accolades for his virtuoso performances of sound poetry, particularly the Ursonate by Kurt Schwitters. Bök presents The Xenotext, a scientific and literary study that combines the principles of DNA mutation and poetry.

Five Questions with… Oana Avasilichioaei

Oana Avasilichioaei, author of Limbinal and an upcoming IFOA participant, answered our five questions!

Share this article via Twitter or Facebook for your chance to win two tickets to her event on October 25. Don’t forget to tag @IFOA!

IFOA: Can you tell us a bit about Limbinal?
Avasilichioaei, Oana

Oana Avasilichioaei: Limbinal is a hybrid poetic book that intersects prose fragments with incantatory dialogues, poetic footnotes with photographic phrases, rebellious translations with liquid transpositions. In it, I explore various possibilities of what a “border” might mean, whether geographically, linguistically, culturally, nationally, bodily, textually, etc. As ultimately I believe that a border is a space rather than a line, the book spills out of itself and cannot be contained within one form or within its covers. One of its overflows is THRESHOLDS (2015), an audio-visual performance I have composed out of it, and which I’ll be performing at the Festival.

IFOA: In the book, you place yourself in dialogue with poet Paul Celan and Nobel Laureate Nelly Sachs. How did you get into their heads?

Avasilichioaei: I wouldn’t say that I got into their heads, but rather that I dove into their published words. I’ve admired the work of Celan for a long time, and had read works by some of his interlocutors as well, such as Sachs and Bachman, but had always read the work in translation until I came across Celan’s Romanian poems. It was so exciting to read his words in the original that I felt compelled to translate them into English poems (only one previous translation into English existed), and then to take this work even further in various ways in Limbinal. In part, I crossed the borders of translation and language, and created dialogues between my work and Sachs and Celan’s work, because some of Celan’s personal borders approximate my own: he was a German Jew born in Romania, who survived the war and eventually settled in France to write mostly in German, and was a man of linguistic and cultural borders, borders that kept shifting around him and which he had to cross and re-cross. I was born in Romania, spent my adolescence in Western Canada in English and now inhabit Montreal in French, English and Romanian.

IFOA: How does your translation work inform your poetry?

Avasilichioaei: Translation constantly teaches me a great deal about languages and expands the possibilities of my English. Because I switch back and forth between at least two languages when translating, this has also encouraged me to explore a bilingual and multilingual approach to writing poetry. I am curious about how the syntax, structure, sound, rhythm of one language can impact the syntax, structure, etc. of another language. I am also fascinated by the following questions: When faced with a word or phrase in a language we don’t understand, at least not its denotational meaning, what happens to understanding? What other ways do we find to “understand”?Avasilichioaei, Limbinal

In THRESHOLDS, for instance, I read across the frontiers of my translations of Paul Celan’s early Romanian poems, looking at the translations as a “territory” of vocabulary. I then composed new lines across their English territory, infiltrating them with other phrases and sounds, imagining various definitions of political, linguistic and bodily borders, both within his lexicon and moving beyond it. In composing poems out of a limited lexicon, the poems themselves become sites with more permeable boundaries, as some phrases or vocabulary move across various poems, yet take on different meanings because of their shifting contexts.

IFOA: Can you tell us about the visual text-works you created for galleries in Montreal and Vancouver?

Avasilichioaei: Some of the textual installations I have created came out of my writings and books, especially feria: a poempark (2008) and We, Beasts (2012). For instance, Gallerypark (2008), which was part of the exhibition Less is More: The Poetics of Erasure, Simon Fraser University Gallery, Vancouver, was an installation of several texts in vinyl lettering throughout the gallery space. The texts transformed to follow the contours of this new terrain, from the park’s wild industry to the gallery’s constructed nature. On exhibit, the texts became a sculptural landscape.

THRESHOLDS also involves the transformation of text into image, this time through video projection. The poems, which act like scores, were transformed from the architectural spatial environment of the page into the aural and visual architecture of a room’s environment. I collaborated with multimedia artist Jessie Altura to create a textual visual projection that accompanies and interacts with the performance. By simultaneously offering a contrasting, competing and sparse projection of the poem’s textual score (consisting of white text that is manipulated in various ways and is in constant movement against a blue-black screen), audiences can be in a space of in-between, immersed in the spatialized words and sounds.

IFOA: Which author do you most hope to bump into at the IFOA?

Avasilichioaei: Anne Carson.

Oana Avasilichioaei is a poet, translator and editor whose poetry collections include We, Beasts (winner of the Quebec Writers’ Federation’s A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry) and feria: a poempark. In recent years, Avasilichioaei has also been mapping poetry into performative sound work (oanalab.com) and translates poetry and prose from Romanian and French. She has also edited several magazine issues, including Poetry in Translation. Avasilichiaei presents the collection Limbinal, which intersects prose fragments with incantatory dialogues, poetic footnotes with photographic phrases and rebellious translations with liquid transpositions.


October 23 to October 27

Get to know Catalonia’s diverse, original and unpredictable literary scene. With programming partner Institut Ramon Llull, we invite Canadian audiences to delve into the literature of this region, represented at the Festival by some of the best Catalan novelists, poets, translators and crime-fiction writers.

See authors Anna Aguilar-Amat, Flavia Company, Marc Pastor, Jordi Puntí, Toni Sala, Martí Sales, Francesc Serés and Teresa Solana in a number of events from October 23 to October 27.

On Friday, October 23 at 8:30pmMeet the Catalans! While enjoying traditional Catalan food, drink and music, mix and mingle with all eight authors and become better acquainted with their fascinating works. Journalist Bert Archer acts as MC. This event is free and will take place in the Pub Hub.

On Saturday, October 24 at 2pm in the Brigantine Room, three of Catalan’s hottest writers (Flavia Company, Jordi Puntí and Martí Sales) and Canadian translator Elisabet Ràfols will discuss translation and contemporary Catalan literature. BookThug publisher, Jay MillAr, will moderate their discussion.



International Crime Watch – Round Table
Sara Blaedel, Paul Cleave, Denise Mina, Marc Pastor. Moderator: Ben McNally

Giuseppe Catozzella, Flavia Company, Mitsuyo Kakuta, Matt Lennox, Jacinto Lucas Pires, Eric Reinhardt. Host: Jessica Moore

Death in Translation – Round Table
Sara Blaedel, Marc Pastor, Teresa Solana, Ovidia Yu. Moderator: Susan Glickman

At Language’s Edge: Poetry in Translation – Round Table
Anna Aguilar-Amat, Erín Moure, Martí Sales. Author/Moderator: Oana Avasilichioaei

A Celebration of Bookthug
Kate Hargreaves, Martí Sales, Mike Steeves, Jess Taylor, Liz Worth. Moderator: Emily M. Keeler.

See you there!

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