Time-Sensitive Material

There’s a new poetry blog in town: Toronto poet David Dowker’s Time-Sensitive Material.

David edited The Alterran Poetry Assemblage, a literary magazine published from 2000-2005—it’s a treasure trove, and David has taken the trouble to have the contents archived by the National Library of Canada Electronic Collection.

A recent post on his blog consists of links to contributions to The Alterran Poetry Assemblage from Lise Downe, Chris Stroffolino, Lisa Robertson, Charles Alexander, David Dowker, Fiona Templeton, and many more (I’m in there somewhere).

I look forward to future postings!



Camille Martin

2 responses to “Time-Sensitive Material

  1. Delighted to see discussion of my friend Scott Thurston’s polyphony, and wanted to complicate matters further by pointing you towards the Scots poet Rob MacKenzie’s first books (“Kirk Interiors” from Ankle Press, and “The Tune Kilmarnock” from Form Books; both o/p, alas). Here’s my favourite poem of Rob MacKenzie’s [the poem’s title *follows the poem]:

    – – – – – –

    ’Se jazz a’ bhaile bh’ann an’ the old rebellion began
    snug i’ the cusp ‘tween Union Jack thalla’s cac

    Cold War chaos an’ the ceilidh two fingers to NATO, the cuiream
    Jahweh brickbat ballets agus pompous American Rock

    on the Castle’s appropriate lawn just three chopped chords an’
    the sad day gone we left the croft unavoidable lilt le clachan ur

    Lewis Punk bands of the early 1980s

    > http://www.soton.ac.uk/~bepc/poems/mackenzie_1.htm

    – – – – – –

    Gaelic glosses:

    agus = and

    cuiream = born-again Christianity

    le clachan ur = with new stones (Gaelic, like English, puns on ‘balls’)

    ‘Se jazz a’bhaile bh’ann = it was township jazz

    thalla’s cac = go shit

    The poem can be read as a matrix of possibilities, the reader controlling the arrival of fresh linguistic input (I hesitate to say ‘information’).

    Rob was raised on Lewis, the ear-shaped island in the Hebrides to the NW of Scotland. They speak Received-Pronunciation English on formal occasions, Lallans-inflected Scots ‘English’ informally [as “i'” for “in”, “an'” for “and”, above]; many, but not all, also speak (Scots) Gaelic. Rob mixes all three languages in his poem, as well as allowing for switching directions!

    The ‘Castle’ (a nineteenth-century fake in a landscaped park made by a rich businessman with aristocratic pretensions) is on the outskirts of the largest town on Lewis, Stornoway; it was is – the site for rock gigs. Punk arrived late on Lewis, but with some force; “Union Jack, thalla’s cac” is a line from “Union Jack” by a band called “The Rong”, you can hear it at

    > http://www.myspace.com/saddayweleftthecroft

    A croft is a detached cottage with agricultural land around it, historically lived in by the poor; “Sad Day We Left The Croft” was a 1981 compilation album of punk bands from Lewis, re-released in 2007 by Honcho. (A lot of it still rocks!)

    If you want to know more about Rob MacKenzie, there’s a selected poems called “Off Ardglas” from Invisible Books in the UK; and you can find my (now rather elderly) introduction to a reading he gave in London at

    Harry Gilonis


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