Future: Letter from the Poetry Is Dead team

Future: Letter from the Poetry Is Dead team

From Daniel Zomparelli, Editor-in-Chief and Founder


When Vancouver had a poetry conference a few years back; before the final panel (on the future of Canadian poetry) began, we were sitting in the Goldcorp Theatre while Jen Currin and Christine Leclerc handed out slips of paper with short statements on them. The short statements were collected from things poets had said during the rest of the conference. Each of us with slips of paper were to yell out these statements at the beginning of the panel.


When we finished yelling, Carmine Starnino asked if we could start; Jen replied, “We already have.” As the panel continued, two distinct voices emerged in opposition to each other: those of Jen Currin and Christian Bök. Currin’s future was a return to nature, born out of necessity from the failure of our society to deal with pollution and global warming. Bök’s future was like the Jetsons, machines and computers taking care of our every need, including poetry. I left the panel wondering what the future looked like for poems. What will poems be in ten years, 30 years, 100 years? I felt compelled to call on poets to interpret the future. For this issue, I commissioned projects by a spectrum of poets to see where they might land. What you will see is a series of poems touching, to different degrees, both futures—the ones laid out by Currin and Bök.


I commissioned Eric schmaltz, Gary Barwin and Gregory Betts to produce visual poems in response to the future. after that, I dispersed their initial creations to them at random, so that they could further respond—creating some of the weirdest and most delightful answers. We are also including poems from a project in which we collaborated with the Vancouver Art Gallery. The poems are responses from Amy De’Ath, ryan fitzpatrick and Rita Wong on the work of Edward Burtynsky’s exhibition, A Terrible Beauty. Finally, I commissioned a programmer and a poet, long-term partners Michael Joyce and Ben Rawluk, to produce something to see where poetry and programming collide.


We ask robots to answer a lot of life’s questions now, whether querying Google about how to solve a problem or for a map to show us the way home, bugging siri about who the famous star was in that movie. For this issue’s interview, Jordan Abel and I sought out robots online to interrogate about poetry. If there is anything to say about the poetry in this issue, it’s that it is fucking weird, and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.


From Easton West, Art Director


The tenth issue of Poetry Is Dead is special to me. I never thought it could come this far even though I always knew it would. The two artists featured in this issue are dear friends of mine, and two extremely talented artists I look up to. Marijn Degenaar is a designer I have spent the past few years working extremely closely with in my studio. We work together, jam together and share our life stories. You can see more of his photo work at invisible-eyes.tumblr.com and his design work at awesomemountain.com. Michael Tan is a visionary 3D artist. He creates landscapes that appear plastic and organic, futuristic and primeval, metropolitan and mystical. We’ve been friends ever since he first moved to the city while I was working on issue 3. since then we’ve shared many late nights and great ideas. You can see his commercial animation reel, art and experiments at michaeltan.name.




Poetry Is Dead is coming up on its 5th year anniversary and our tenth issue is a return to the start for both of us. A reminder that poetry and art should be fucking weird. We will be moving into a new generation of Poetry Is Dead, prepare for the re-up. Subscribe to join along.