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category: Poetry
published: Oct 2015
ISBN:9781770564343
publisher: Coach House Books

The Xenotext: Book 1

by Christian Bök

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canadian, biotechnology, experiments & projects
0 of 5
0 ratings
rated!
rated!
list price: $9.99
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
category: Poetry
published: Oct 2015
ISBN:9781770564343
publisher: Coach House Books
Description

The first work of 'living poetry' in the world, by the author of the bestselling book Eunoia

Shortlisted for the 2016 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry (Alberta Literary Awards)

Internationally renowned poet Christian Bök has encoded a poem (called ‘Orpheus’) into the genome of a germ so that, in reply, the cell builds a protein that encodesyet another poem (called ‘Eurydice’). After having illustrated this idea in E. coli, Bök is planning to insert his poem into a deathless bacterium (D. radiodurans), thereby writing a text able to outlive every apocalypse, enduring till the Sun itself expires.

Book 1 of The Xenotext is an ‘infernal grimoire’ that introduces readers to the conceptual groundwork for this project. The book offers a primer in genetics, even as it revisits the pastoral heritage of poetry, updating the orphic idylls of Virgil for a new age of mythic danger – be it in the beauty of artful biogenesis, if not in the terror of global extinction.

‘The cellular “rules?* that govern this extraordinary text allow Bök to create one of the most beautiful poems of our time – a poem in which the georgics of Virgil join forces with the double helix of Watson and Crick.’

– Marjorie Perloff

‘If Human reverence was slanted more toward Nature and less toward the exaltation of gods, our scriptures might have looked something like The Xenotext.’

– Peter Watts

‘Many artists seek to attain immortality through their art, but few would expect their work to outlast the human race and live on for billions of years. As Canadian poet Christian Bök has realized, it all comes down to the durability of your materials.’

The Guardian

About the Author
Christian Bök won the Griffin Poetry Prize for his book Eunoia. He is currently working on The Xenotext, a project that requires him to encode a poem into the genome of a microbe capable of thriving in any inhospitable environment. Bök is a Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada, and he teaches at Charles Darwin University.
Author profile page >
Awards
  • Short-listed, Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry (Alberta Literary Awards)
Editorial Reviews

‘Christian Bok’s The Xenotext, a poem in DNA mutation, continues his attempts to redefine what poetry even is.’

National Post


In a recent review of Christian Bök's new book, The Xenotext: Book 1, The Found Poetry Review's Douglas Luman gushes:

'With a writer like Bök (and it is fair to say that there are not many – if any – truly like him), the expectation is that whatever comes of the massive amounts of research and investigation will be delightfully confusing, simultaneously illustrative, and altogether new.'

And Luman is not left disappointed; he writes: 'Bök provides a new way into creation, by entering into the very language and vocabulary of the canvas of life itself.'


Writing about The Xenotext: Book 1, Rob McClennan writes: 'It becomes fascinating how [Christian] Bök has managed to construct poetry, let alone a multiple-volume project, around such an experiment, extending, exploring and capturing the connections between science and poetry dozens of times beyond what anyone has achieved up to this point, proving yet again just how far ahead he is of his peers.'

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