Written with four hands, by Tom Prime and the Giller Prize and Governor General's Award shortlisted Gary Barwin, Bird Arsonist is avant-garde, tragicomic poetry at its most arresting.
They say the language of birds is the closest to that of the divine. They also say poetry is the unacknowledged legislator of the world. In Bird Arsonist, Tom Prime and Gary Barwin — like all good avant-gardists — flip these commonplaces on their heads, showing that poetry sets alight any transparent, easy, lawful language, or is precisely what language spits out as it turns to ash.
Compressed to the point of implosion, the poems that make up this volume are contorted descendants of Dadaism, Surrealism, and every other -ism. Prime and Barwin confront poetry's contemporary preference for confession and today's digitization of reality not only by — as they are two — using a doubled “I,” but also by letting language elide the human-all-too-human hand of authorship tout court. The author of Bird Arsonist is language itself, sonorous and fragmentary. Prime and Barwin have merely done the job of giving it the room to speak, of keeping it infected, of making visible the outline of its splinters and its cuts. Shake gently!
About the authors
Tom Prime is in the PhD program at Western University in English. He has an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Victoria (Specializing in Poetry). He has a BA at Western University. He has been published in Brave New Word, Carousel, Ditch, Fjords Review, The Rusty Toque, Lana Turner, Vallum, Watch Your Head, and others. His first chapbook, A Strange Hospital, was published on Proper Tales Press. His chapbook, Gravitynipplemilkplanet Anthroposcenesters, was published on above/ground press. This along with the two Serif of Nottingham chapbooks (Birds are the birthmarks of flight and Throat Fixtures: The Almanack of Dazzle) are collaborations with Gary Barwin. His most recent pamphlet, Common Stock, is on Blasted Tree Press. His collaborative collection of poems written with Gary Barwin, A Cemetery for Holes, is available from Gordon Hill Press. His debut solo collection, Mouthfuls of Space, is scheduled for publication on the Feed Dog imprint of Anvil Press this coming September.
Gary Barwin is a writer, composer, and performer. He is the author of numerous books and chapbooks of poetry and fiction including the poetry collections frogments from the frag pool: haiku after basho (written with derek beaulieu) and Raising Eyebrows and Outside the Hat (Coach House Books) and the fiction collections Doctor Weep and other strange teeth, Big Red Baby (The Mercury Press), and Cruelty to Fabulous Animals (Moonstone Press). He is the author of The Mud Game, a novel written with Stuart Ross (The Mercury Press). Barwin is also the author of several books for children including Seeing Stars, a young adult novel (Stoddart Kids) nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award and the CLA YA Book of the Year, and Killer Poodle Made Me Island King (Fox Meadow), co-winner of the Muskoka Novel Marathon 2003. Barwin received a PhD in Music Composition and currently teaches music at Hillfield-Strathallan College and creative writing at McMaster University. Barwin lives in Hamilton, where he has cultivated vague but colourful illusions about his writing. Please don’t tell him.
Other titles by Tom Prime
Other titles by Gary Barwin
Essays on Language, Identity and Infinity
duck eats yeast, quacks, explodes; man loses eye
The Most Charming Creatures
Laurier Poetry Pack #5
Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted
The Ballad of Motl the Cowboy
Laurier Poetry Pack #4
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
For It Is a Pleasure and a Surprise to Breathe
New and Selected Poems