Walter Ong, orality & literacy

Walter-ongFor Patrick Roesle’s curated month on media and technology over at the Town Crier, I wrote about Walter Ong‘s Orality and Literacy and its relevance for new communications media.

Read the piece here, if you (like me) are a bit of an Ong fangirl/boy slash former Rhetoric & Communications major. And if that’s you, leave a comment, too.


Mental minefield

I reviewed Anakana Schofield’s Martin John for the Winnipeg Free Press this weekend.

The novel has been short-listed for the Giller Prize and has been positively reviewed pretty well everywhere.

My review online is missing its opening paragraph due to a text/image mixup, so if you’re willing to spend $.27 to buy the piece, head on over to the Free Press after reading the intro here:

Martin John is one of those books that demands a great deal from its readers: namely, sustained attention to an unattractive character, the kind of person that is generally met with revulsion and rejection. But such is Irish-Canadian author Anakana Schofield’s talent—that she not only gains the reader’s interest but their investment in this figure’s motivations and wellbeing.

Update: the post has been fixed on the Free Press site.

Sigh-sound of lament for C. K. Williams

C.K. Williams has died at 78.

I heard Williams read at Newcastle University in 2008, and his presence as much as his poetry evoked contained force, passion, love for the world. He was an intellectual; he asked questions about what it is to live. And he was a true poet; he pitched his being into words.

Here is my favourite Williams poem in full:

I hate how this unsummoned sigh-sound, sob-sound,
not sound really, feeling, sigh-feeling, sob-feeling,
keeps rising in me, rasping in me, not in its old disguise
as nostalgia, sweet crazed call of the blackbird;
not as remembrance, grief for so many gone,
nor either that other tangle of recall, regret
for unredeemed wrongs, errors, omissions,
petrified roots too deep to ever excise;
a mingling rather, a melding, inextricable mesh
of delight in astonishing being, of being in being,
with a fear of and fear for I can barely think what,
not non-existence, of self, loved ones, love;
not even war, fuck war, sighing for war,
sobbing for war, for no war, peace, surcease;
more than all that, some ground-sound, ground-note,
sown in us now, that swells in us, all of us,
echo of love we had, have, for world, for our world,
on which we seem finally mere swarm, mere deluge,
mere matter self-altered to tumult, to noise,
cacophonous blitz of destruction, despoilment,
din from which every emotion henceforth emerges,
and into which falters, slides, sinks, and subsides:
sigh-sound of lament, of remorse; sob-sound of rue,
of, still, always, ever sadder and sadder sad joy.