Monday, November 28, 2011

A poem I read last night: Christian Bök

I don’t know whether to be excited or terrified. Adrenalin. For the first time I understand why some people get excited rather than terrified by doing terrifying things. Like jumping out of a plane. Being in this poem is how you must feel on the way down. Excited but still terrified. Terrified but still exhilarated. I like the lists I like the action I like the language I like the sudden swerve into specificity. An address: Level 104 of the Mponeng Mine in Johannesberg.  On endurance: … pressures equivalent to 45 tons of force per square inch, six times greater … Another residence: … Reactor No. 4 at Chernobyl.  Eternity: 500 millennia in the core of a snowflake… Evasion: … in the firmware of the Intel Pentium 3 microchip. I like the boil and roil. I like the scare. Even though the poet states elsewhere: … my attempt to build a literary parasite in the form of a “word-germ” has only the most miniscule, most negligible, chance whatsoever of producing any dangerous contagion … (Bök 2008)

I am reading the extremophile by Canadian poet Christian Bök published in Australian Poetry Journal Vol. 1, # 1 (Australian Poetry Ltd 2011). In her editorial, Bronwyn Lea refers to The Xenotext Experiment where Bök uses a ‘chemical alphabet’ to translate his poetry into sequences of DNA. His essay on this (including Bök’s quote above) can be found here.

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