Gary Barwin is a writer, composer, multimedia artist, and the author of 18 books of poetry and fiction as well as books for kids. His most recent book is the short fiction collection, I, Dr Greenblatt, Orthodontist, 251-1457 and the visual poetry collection, The Wild and Unfathomable Always. He was 2014-2015 Writer-in-Residence at Western University and has taught creative writing at a number of colleges and universities. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario with vague and unsettling feelings about nature.
Where are you now?
On my phone. In my bed. 100 years after the publication of Kafka's The Metamorphosis.
What are you reading?
Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle. The Compleat Flea by Brendan Lehane. If by Inger Christensen. A Complete Guide to Heraldry by A.C. Fox-Davies.
What have you discovered lately?
I discovered a Great Horned Owl in a tree. Migrating turtles crossing a local road. The medieval “Charter of the Forest.” A recording of autotuned 31-toned Renaissance music. My brother sent me a picture of a local Ottawa funeral home booth at Westfest which featured a hearse bedecked with balloons. You could put on the driver’s cap and pretend to drive. “Cast a cold eye/On Life, on Death.”
Where do you write?
See picture. At least when I don’t feel the need to slump over my desk blasting Coffeeshop sounds https://coffitivity.com or Jordi Savall https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6yTc9ggG-Y or Anthony Braxton https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8OWAFbFGbA
I’m almost sure I have untold wealth on the way. And happiness. But also, Yiddish for Pirates (a novel, Random House Canada, spring 2016) and Sonosyntactics: Selected and New Poetry of Paul Dutton (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, Summer 2016.) Also I’m very excited that Amanda Earl and her AngelHouse Press is going to be reprinting my first chapbook (phases of the harpsichordmoon) from 30 years ago (30 years!) this fall.
What would you rather be doing?
Much of me wants to be beside myself, doing many other things while simultaneously being present in the moment doing just this one thing.
Can you include, also, a recent poem or two, as well as a bio and photo? The poems don’t need to be unpublished, and we could cite book or chapbook (if that is what you send), as long as you have permission to reprint.
I’ve a new book just out, I, Dr. Greenblatt, Orthodontist, 251-1457 (short fiction, Anvil). Here’s recordings of two stories from the book. “The Hand” (a video made by Jenna Mariash) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAn8ZW9jdYk and “Tart Sweet Crunchy Crisp” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3bU-GYRef0
And here’s a new poem from a series that I’m working on where I populate and modify other poems with creatures from an inventory of living things in the city where I live. There’s a remarkable diversity of species here, many of which I’m just learning about and discovering while hiking or kayaking.
The Snakes of Hamilton, Ontario
for Safia Elhillo
ring-necked the milk snake
oh what the garter
ring-necked the milk snake
is mudpuppy redbelly
yes blue-spotted oh all smooth green
oh what the ring-necked
all redbelly garter
oh ribboned mudpuppy
oh all smooth green
Also, see the attached visual poems.