Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Random Posts, Matrix, Brossard, Ian Curtis, 24 Hour Party People, Wayde Compton, Zolf, Bachinsky, Beaulieu, Goodwin, Carson, Joy Division and more

Apologies for the increasingly random posts. For some reason deadlines seem like magnets for other deadlines which seem like magnets for upstart combustions and implosion of various natures, expenses and irritations. I will say that some reading highlights include the collection of essays on Nicole Brossard, edited by Louise Forsyth and published last year by Guernica, as well as The Blue Book, published by Coach House the year before. I'm thinking about autobiographical writing and musing about the kind of autobiographical writing we find in Canadian women...more on that later.

Meanwhile, I also received a few issues of Matrix in the mail. Matrix Magazine is somehow tied to Concordia University in Montreal. I say somehow, because I'm not sure how. These allegiances are always mysterious. The Malahat Review, which I am partial to, is at the University of Victoria, but not part of their Creative Writing Program, while Prism, is an active part of the MFA program at UBC. I'm partial to having these journals tied to MFA programs, although I suppose there are problems with that approach. When I was at Concordia I barked loudly about what I perceived as a lack of opportunity for students of creative writing but Matrix arrived a year later.

And what of the magazine? Well, it has a smart design courtesy of Andy Brown, whom I believe is also publisher of Conundrum (which was just getting started in my day). Matrix has a light, airy feel to it, an Indie, cool-neighbourhood-boys in a basement kind of energy. Not to say it isn't smart, it's plenty smart. Smart everywhere. And aimed at a very particular crowd--one that crosses over with graphic novels and sound-track-of-my-life compilations. It's not an academic journal--say like Prism, the journal attached to the UBC MFA Creative Writing Program--but it is a literary journal, and has reviews. And this issue has a review of Teeth Marks, which is nice. Other highlights of recent issues include a great interview between editor Jon Paul Fiorentino and Rachel Zolf, and an interview by Wayde Compton. I also enjoyed poetry by Elizabeth Bachinsky & Derek Beaulieu, and an excerpt from Portable Alatamont which I keep hearing about and now know why...great stuff. There is also a great response to the work of Betty Goodwin (who Anne Carson writes about in Decreation), by Jason Camlot--another poet I'm looking forward to reading soon.

For me, rock n roll and poetry aren't as closely aligned as for some, but I do admire the energy. I was flipping through recent issues, watching Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People and remembering (fondly) when the night didn't start until midnight (and on the weekends we'd have to move out of our loft so bands could come in...) but you see, that was a long time ago. Still those songs are definitely part of my sound track--just one part of one soundtrack, but a good slice.

If you haven't seen 24 Hour Party People you should--before we're inundated. I hear there is a movie in the works featuring Jude Law as Ian Curtis from Joy Division. How he'll do a better job than the guy who plays Curtis in Winterbottom's tale I don't know...and you know there won't be much joy in it. But Winterbottom's take is amazing. Really.

And if you're curious about the Montreal writing scene--and I know you are--check out Matrix. You won't find any of that Manchester angst. (I guess Bush isn't as bad as the Reagan Thatcher era after all?) But now that Canada has gone conservative on us perhaps we'll see some of that simmer again? Here's me hoping what we don't see is a Harper-Bush alliance any time soon. I know I wouldn't like that soundtrack...it would be a kind of hell.

Oh, and speaking of hell. I have to add a final note about an upcoming film from the director of Fast Runner--another movie I highly recommend. Here's an interview with director Zacharias Kunuk about the making of the first movie. Folks are interested in Iceland, in the Arctic, those last bastions of wild that are melting and assimilating faster than the polar ice cap: cultures going from hunting and gathering to filmmaking in a lifetime (if they're lucky in some cases). The perspective is rich. Not to romanticize it, but I'm fascinated by the odd disjunctions--those of us in the west have had a long time to adjust to the madness we're immersed in. This was one of my favourites bits:

MS: What’s your ultimate goal to come out of video making?

ZK: Just the truth of what happened, because we were really damaged by Christianity. Before Christianity we didn’t know hell existed. We all knew that people went down below, but after they’ve refreshed they would return up to the day. Day-heaven. Everybody went to the day-heaven. But now, Christianity came and ‘snap,’ ‘you’re going to burn in hell if you’re bad.’ We don’t believe that. So, a lot of our cultural ways that survived for thousands of years have been interrupted and completely changed in the last fifty years. Doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t make sense. So, just trying to prove that it doesn’t make sense. That’s my job.

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