Christian Bök's Eunoia is available online at
Coach House Books.
Winner of the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize
Over five years in the making, poet, 'pataphysican, performer and artist Christian Bök's much-anticipated second book Eunoia is about to change your perception of your own language forever.
The word 'eunoia', which literally means 'beautiful thinking', is the shortest word in English that contains all five vowels. Directly inspired by the Oulipo (l'Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle), a French writers' group interested in experimenting with different forms of literary constraint, Eunoia is a five-chapter book in which each chapter is a univocal lipogram (the first chapter has A as its only vowel, the second chapter only E, etc.). Each vowel takes on a distinct personality - the I is egotistical and romantic, the O jocular and obscene, the E elegaic and epic (Bök actually retells the entire Iliad in Chapter E; you have to read it to believe it). Stunning in its implications and masterful in its execution, Eunoia is one of the most unusual and important books of any year.
On Printing Out the Internet by Kathryn Mockler, July 26, 2013
“…capitalism has a knack for devouring and absorbing everything in its path—including any critique of capitalism.” (from Notes on Conceptualisms)
When I taught an experimental writing course to undergraduates this past winter my students and I were most surprised to discover, through some of the class exercises, the extent to which we are not free to express ourselves. There is a disconnection between our perception of our rights and freedoms and what we are actually allowed to do and say. Unless we are trying to push these boundaries, it is often something that goes unnoticed.
I adapted an assignment from Kenneth Goldsmith’s book Uncreative Writing and asked the students to do a non-permanent graffiti project in which they were to put an outdated slogan or old quote in a public place and document it with a photograph. One student tried to put up a sticky note in a lingerie store with the Picasso quote: “What is beauty anyway? There’s no such thing.” She tried to put the note “among all the sparkly bras” but got kicked out of the store. She went to Chapters and tried to put the note beside the beauty magazines but got kicked out. Then she went to a grocery store and tried to put it beside some beauty products and got kicked out again. In a final attempt, before class, she tried to put the note on the mirror in the women’s washroom on campus but “behold,” the student says, “a wild custodian” appeared and threatened to call the campus police. Finally giving up, she says, “I took down my art and left.”
Roof Books, $14.95 (paper)
Flood Editions, $12.95 (paper)
When you read poems of some length—a double sonnet, or a book-length verse diary—you might well envision each poem as a self-contained entity: a “little world made cunningly,” in John Donne’s phrase, or a “machine made of words,” as William Carlos Williams wrote, propelled by the interactions among its own parts. When you read a very short poem—two lines, or twenty syllables—you might still ask about its moving parts, but you might also acknowledge that the parts do not move on their own: such a small object clearly depends, for much of its meaning, emotion, and force, on the expectations that we bring. Very short poems, in other words, can go a very long way to ask, and to answer, questions about what we expect out of poems in general, about what poetry—or a particular kind of poetry—is.
A Recap of Kenneth Goldsmith and Christian Bök in Conversation at The Power Plant
by Kathryn Mockler, June 26, 2013
From Rusty Blog, The blog of the online literary and arts Journal The Rusty Toque
On June 25, 2013, the Power Plant presented a talk with Kenneth Goldsmith and Christian Bök as part of the In Conversation series. Goldsmith and Bök’s works are featured with over 50 other artist and writers in the Power Plant’s current exhibition Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art curated by Nora Burnett Abrams and Andrea Andersson.
Bök and Goldsmith met in Buffalo, NY in the 1990s which marks the starting point for what has come to be known as the conceptual writing movement. Goldsmith and Bök are considered the founders of conceptual writing—although they acknowledge that many of the concepts they are working with were first touched on by their avant-garde predecessors such as Brion Gysin. The main difference between contemporary conceptual writing and the work that was being done in the 1960s is that contemporary writers and artists are dealing with the digital, and this has enabled them to work with content and actualize concepts that would have been impossible in the past. Bök explains that some of this work just “couldn’t exist without the web.”
There was a time when a learned fellow (literally, a Renaissance man) could read all the major extant works published in the western world. Information overload soon put paid to that. Since there is "no end" to "making many books" – as the Old Testament book Ecclesiastes prophesied, anticipating our digital age – the realm of the unread has spread like a spilt bottle of correction fluid...
Out of the Book