Monday, March 20, 2023

The War on Smog 1


The bombs are smart

Even against camouflage,

And they drop their loads

With a righteous


We are saved frequently

By these awesome systems.

They save us

From emergencies

And all the,

All the bad guys.

— Finn Harvor


From my collection of authorial movies. These poems are primarily from a massive project entitled Plastic Millennium. It subdivides into a series of modules and thematic concerns. What is here are a few pieces from a series of nature works entitled the "Baram" series ("baram" is the transliteration from the Korean word for wind). Also are a few interlinked pieces about war and what I term “The Constant Roar of the State”. I'm drawing a linkage between these and the nature poems insofar as industrialism now – as in, really now – is impinging on what we define as the natural; in other words, we are warring on nature itself. The metaphors have disappeared. We're in the midst of something that is moving with glacial speed, but is like a bomb going off.

The Baram Series contains a substantial amount of nature scenery (a passion of mine). But it is not meant to valourize or sentimentalize the reality of 21st Century nature, which, after all, is increasingly boxed in by 21st Century development. One can see that in Canada, where I grew up; one sees it especially vividly in Asia, where I now live. The project started almost by accident: I had a piece entitled “Baram Writer” accepted by an online lit magazine (now defunct). The title was a play on words: a few years before, I'd seen a movie in Korea entitled “Baram Fighter” – that is, the transliteration of Hangeul to the Roman alphabet sounded just the same. I liked the play on words, and kept the “baram” as a sort of talisman for what followed.

These pieces exist as poems and videos, with each element of the project linked but also discrete. I have been working on the project for many years, and am not trying to be trendy or “newsy”, but instead capture something of the larger age we live in. War and the environment are now connected: by the very act of “fighting an enemy”, we – via the exhaustive machinery of war – create another, more amorphous, but also threatening enemy.

In these poems, "baram" -- or other elementary aspects of nature ("geu-neul" [shadow] and "hai" [sun]) -- do not function so much as symbols of nature, but direct "branches" of it. In other words, nature touches us directly, and gives us tangible experience. Yet at the same time this is happening, nature also can bring us closer to other forms of more emotional experience that are linked to our connections with the others who are meaningful in our lives. Yet articulating this rather simple connection is hard, and that is because being conscious of the experience is hard. Therefore, these poems will, I hope, be read on several levels: as appreciations of the natural, as experiential-philosophical meditations, and as love poems.

These poems are in turn are from a much larger project that in its totality comprises over 800,000 words, 1,500 drawings, 1,000 plus original photos, 100 original songs, and 1400 authorial movies (movies based on a belletristic text in which every element is made – authored – by one artistic sensibility). It is a first. (There are longer textual works out there, obviously, but none as long and also with as much variety of artistic forms.) As I remarked above, I've been working on this material for many years now, and it has a broad thematic range. 

About myself: I'm an artist, writer, filmmaker, and occasional musician, and live with my wife in South Korea. I've published art and writing in The Partisan [upcoming], Pacifism21, Former People, The Puritan, Eclectica, Canadian Notes and Queries, Rain Taxi, The Brooklyn Rail, The Korea Times, Dogmatika, Dark Sky, the Quarterly Conversation, rabble, the HUFS International Journal of Foreign Studies, The Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Now Weekly, The Canadian Forum, This Magazine and several other publications. I've had group and solo shows of of my artwork, have written and staged two fringe plays, and invented a new genre of experimental movie (the “authorial movie”, in which the basis of the narrative is a belletristic text, such as a poem, short story or movie, and one person – one author – produces all elements of the video, such as text, art and music (for more examples of these, see the links below)).  I have had group and solo shows of my  visual art.My videopoetry has been screened in the US, UK, Greece, Ireland, Hong Kong, South Korea, Kazakhstan, and India. Finally, I blog at Conversations in the Book Trade, where I have conducted interviews with people including Adam Bellow, Ian Brown, Philip Marchand, Bev Daurio, Brian Palmu, derek beaulieu, Ed Champion, and Richard Nash. Link:

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