In the archive of sensuality

In the archive of sensuality: no pastoral whining,
no lyricism of the frigid, no partitioning of alembic,
no unbridled treasury, no teething, no filament, no
sebaceous mist, no corollary, no acerbic awning, no
yapping, no earnestness, no dust bin, no blimp heads,
no brain surgeons, no dactyls, no asymptotes, no
lusciousness, no crannies, no frittering, no bleach, no
crumpets, no high noon airing, no smoke, no cup sizes,
no meters, no hijinks, no ammonite, no dukedom, no
cellophane, no drainage, no cardstock, no debt-setter, no
tepidness, no smokiness, no ingots, no monochromatic,
no distillery, no vestibular, no sinking toe, no arc shot,
no bauble, no heron, no pleather wing, no necromancy,
no anvil, no tinkered frost, no brackish seed, no
ploughing hornet, no ox cut, no fetidness, no adjectival,
no sipping, no aleatory range, no calculus, no impish
crudity, no ::

Questions and Answers

What poetic techniques did you use in this poem? How much attention do you pay to form and metre?

Form is really important to me. But I think I have a backwards sense of it. The poems I end up with are the result of a practice I see as akin to music or sculpting. Something emerges, or is revealed to me, from formlessness or pure potential. When I write I’m not really writing but listening and following the train of my own voice such that tenor, contour, and lusciousness override any initial sense of expression in a rather conventional narrative way. What I’m left with is trying to pierce the thread or lace that binds one thought to the next however incomplete or distant it may seemingly be.


What did you find particularly challenging in writing this poem?

I think knowing when to stop is hard. Maurice Blanchot has written about the “infinite nature of the work” and it registers for me as nothing other than some kind of benevolent spectre. It’s also something I see in the work of Wilson Harris, whose revisionary potential and infinitesimal return to some primordial node of inscription and encounter speak to some kind of drive that is, of course, not satisfied in any work, but pierces one from one to the next. To that end, I listen for the cadences in language and listen for how one poem might speak and be listening to another.

This poem “In the archive of sensuality” originally appeared in 60th Anniversary Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 239 (2019): 10.

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