USEREVIEW 049: A Bespoke Respoke

Staff/ September 15, 2021/ Book Review

Gary Barwin uses the medium of sound poetry to respond to visual poetry, in this sensory-blurring experimental review of Kate Siklosi and psw’s collaborative artists’ book, Reply (2021).

ISBN n/a | 40pp | €22.00

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Print is synaesthetic. Its shapes and textures, papers and colours make the inner fingers tingle, the brainskin prickle. Looking is tactile, kinesthetic. Reading is musical, evokes sound. And collaboration, such as between Kate Siklosi and psw in this marvellous book, is all of these things and inspires joining in. Participation as a reader, looker, puzzler, page turner. It’s a duet (“two womxn sat down to create”) — as an audience member, it’s hard not to want to respond. Yes, respond synaptically, synoptically, semantically, but one also wants to read by moving the lips, by moving one’s body, haptically, chapbooktically. I saw these visual poems and the duet of their making as a pas de deux, as a musical score, a sonic map, as a choreographic diagram for the mouth. Upon opening the book, I immediately had the impulse to make sound, to follow the prompting of the visuals, to speak what I saw, to utter my delighted puzzlement, to make a running commentary of / for these walking papers for pedestrian meaning-making.

To review is to look again. Reply encouraged me to respeak. Not to restate but to essay what I had inspected, to réessaie (as it roll-up-the-rim says), to respect & thus did I spake in a panoply of polyphonic spokes from the hubbub of my reading and thus recorded this orastory. Reply’s energizing author space language caused this utter space langbridge, these unplannedatory sounds.

Respeak to Reply (11m42s)

Gary Barwin is a writer, composer, musician and multidisciplinary artist and has published 25 books of fiction, poetry and numerous chapbooks. His latest books include the novel, Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted: The Ballad of Motl the Cowboy (Penguin Random House, 2021). His writing, music, media works and visuals have been presented and broadcast internationally and can be found on Bandcamp and YouTube. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario. More: garybarwin.com

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