Sylvia Plath Collage Installation – Lady/Applicant: The Lazarus

Sylvia Plath Collage Installation – Lady/Applicant: The Lazarus

Lady/Applicant: The Lazarus is a multimedia installation and experiment in new media poetics that strategically re-imagines authorial identities.

Chris Girard describes the audio and video poems from the installation, 2010

These identities are particularly those from street signs and audio clips of renowned confessional poet Sylvia Plath. By presenting collaged audio and video recordings, the project radically questions the power traditionally associated with the author. Since Plath’s suicide almost 50 years ago, she continues to be cast as a depressed wife and mother. The imperatives of this role still weigh heavy upon the production of her biography and the reception of her work.

The collaging of audio and video clips reembodies Plath as an omnipresent ghost and shifts meaning away from an exclusive association with the tragically depressed, the pathologized Plath. But, instead of disembodying the writing entirely away from the author, the author now wavers productively between Plath, reader/viewer and myself. The act of shifting references away from the author’s life and intention enables the writing to become more open to alternate interpretation, more open to this new historical moment and audience.

Print Versions

The collaged audio and video poems can be experienced through watching and listening to them. Printable PDF versions of the audio and video poems can be found here for audio and here for video.

Lady/Applicant: The Lazarus, 2010, Audio Collage

Installation Details

The installation consists of audio and video collages that are created through the cutting and rearranging of prerecorded audio and video recordings of texts into sequences of connected texts that play new poems.

The audio component was collaged from the poems that Sylvia Plath read in the early 1960s entitled Lady Lazarus and The Applicant to form a new hybrid poem entitled Lady/Applicant: The Lazarus.

Lady/Applicant: The Lazarus, 2010, Video Collage

The video component was a series of video collages of texts documented near the location where Plath committed suicide in Camden, London. The installation explores how meaning shifts from the intended authors recorded on the audio, video and images to myself through the process of collaging and recording the installation objects.

Theory Alert…

While the project primarily touches on issues of authorship, embodiment and performativity, discourse surrounding digital and new media poetics shows the effect it has on the reader too. It shows how the attribution of an author by the reader becomes complicated from the instability and constantly changing state of screen-based interfaces like that of the project.

For example… Plath, an American who lived in England for only a few years, oddly spoke with a fake English accent during these readings. It suggests a construction of identity to place. The audio presents a phonetic collage of Plath’s voice from BBC recordings of her poems Lady Lazarus and The Applicant during her stay in London and a few years before her death in 1963. The fragments of audio are sliced, extracted and rearranged from individual words of her readings to produce a seamless collage of poetry.

In theoretical terms, the project explores ‘performativity’ of the ‘author function’. The ‘author function’ is a term coined by poststructural theorist Michel Foucault to describe how readers attribute certain characteristics that they believe belong to the author and ascribe them to the writing.

‘Performativity’ is a term used by philosopher Judith Butler to describe a set of actions that ascribe and predetermine a set of attributes to a subject through his or her gender, age, timeframe, nationality and race.

The performativity of the author function appropriates these characteristics of an identity and attributes the characteristics to the author. For a much longer explanation, please see Ph.D. thesis here.

Installation Process & Behind-The-Scenes…

This image shows the process of collaging words from Sylvia Plath’s Lady Lazarus and The Applicant (bottom tracks) with SoundTrack Pro to form a new hybrid poem Lady/Applicant: The Lazarus (top track).

A poem was created based on street and storefront signs found near Plath’s former residence and place of death in Camden, London. These clips were weaved together on iMovie and inspired by experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton’s film entitled Zorns Lemma. They are composed of texts arranged in a semiotic sequence that are subservient to their visual surroundings. The cadence of sound and the sequence of visual texts from instructional and public signs filmed within a five block perimeter of 23 Fitzroy Road reflect the constraint and play of a historical moment.

The plaque images show a transformation of a historical moment to an instruction. William Butler Yeats lived in the same townhouse that Plath committed suicide in about 25 years before. Though both are noted figures, only the plaque of Yeats is shown in front of 23 Fitzroy Road. This component was included in the installation as 4×6 matte photos scattered on the floor.

Posted by Chris Girard in Code, Poetry & Writing, Projects, Video

All But Dissertation / Todo menos la tesis

All But Dissertation (ABD) is an Edgar Allan Poe inspired story (and dirge) offered in Spanish and English. Santa Cruz is haunted by an earthquake and my dead radical ex-lover.

Todos menos la tesis es una historia (e endecha) inspirada en Edgar Allan Poe que se ofrece en español e inglés. Santa Cruz está embrujada por un terremoto y mi ex amante radical y muerto.

All But Dissertation

Hercules from 1958 I have lived in San Francisco before and I have visited Santa Cruz often from this city. I am now a teaching assistant and a graduate student there. As you go down the two way road from the big city, the intensely green bushes continue up the hill on top of a mountain overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The huge redwoods hide each of the buildings. There are bridges that connect each of the buildings because the campus buildings are not closely connected to each other. Within the university bubble, there is a radical political life. An hourly public bus takes the radical students back to the city center. The Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 fractured the city center and the green trees on the campus hide the destruction of the earthquake. Roads are also like tectonic plates. There are new signs in front of pale and old buildings that lean towards where the earth sinks through the faults, and where the buildings of the past, due to the lack of the structure, crumble.

On a bus to campus, I met his eyes that were staring at me. I didn’t know who he was, but I remember those blue eyes like ice that kept me hypnotized. Those blue eyes that attract and light up like a cold fire in a burning bus full of students. I barely remembered anything else, the high line of his hair under curly blond hair. The social network followed the small town from the algorithm on Facebook and made a small digital town. Quickly, through a friend of a friend, I found those eyes on Facebook.

I titled the subject of the email, Awkward, but …

How do I explain what I wrote? How do I explain the word for “awkward” in Spanish? There is not a word uncomfortable enough to describe what I want to do to you in Spanish. There is no word for “uncomfortable.” Awkward, but I want to meet you. Awkward, but I remember your eyes like a cold fire. Awkward, but I don’t believe in monogamy, do you?

But the word “awkward” broke the ice. He wanted us to meet.

The only place in the city center open until late at night for a chat was a cafeteria with fluorescent lights next to the bus stop. It was like a solitary moon in the dark night. There was no one in the dark the night we met, there was no one in the light. The cold of January night penetrated through the glass windows and the metal chairs and tables beside him. The only sound at night was the horrible noise of the bus exhaust pipes. He did not come. I waited for two hours and then went home.

I wrote to him. He apologized and said he was very busy completing a series of translations of Michel Foucault from the French. He was a radical Marxist and was finishing an experimental doctorate. My university was famous and notorious for having an abstract subject of study called “History of Consciousness” that brought radical activists from around the world. I missed Angela Davis’ Black Panther activism, who was imprisoned in the 1970s and teaches there. His disobedience did not make him famous either. He would never leave the program, unlike the famous student whose rejected dissertation was published and distributed in bookstores. It seemed that one dropped out or stayed.

I had seen a guy from the same program five years before, he was an Anarchist and not a Marxist. He was still in the program five years later because they continued to grant his student scholarships for his apartment in San Francisco. I never saw him in Santa Cruz.

I tried a second time. He invited me to his house. He lived in a guest house behind a gray single-story house, near the center of town. He had placed cut flowers around the windows and many open books. The light from the windows overwhelmed and formed silhouettes of vases with freshly decapitated flowers. His cat was very old and slept in the closet. We quickly started kissing when we entered. We walked to the shower and when I touched him, he had an orgasm almost immediately, almost a minute. As soon as he finished, it was time to leave, but I washed his dishes and slept there.

The second time we met, we talked about politics. I told him I was a Libertarian in an Afghan restaurant. I thought I only believed in autonomy. My art studies made me unconscious around me and aware of myself. His studies of post-structural philosophy made him more politically aware than self-aware. He grimaced behind my plate of chana masala. But he followed me uphill through the dense redwoods to the campus apartment and the double bed. We lay together in bed under a bright fluorescent light and stared into his eyes. The darkness of the windows at night was shaded by the thick trunks of the redwoods. They couldn’t eliminate the bright light from the eyes that wanted to leave mine. And he left.

It was a hard week. I went to boring parties hoping to see him. After he rejected my attempts to see him again, I sent him one last invitation to attend a boring art party of my classmates. I went to the guest house behind the gray house and the lights were on. I knocked on the door. He opened the door, but partially. He was sweaty and the sweat remained on his face. His mouth opened, which fell from fatigue rather than the surprise of seeing me. He smiled as if exhausted but not exhausted by me before closing the door. I walked home alone.

A few months later, the redwoods of the campus on top of the mountain whispered the music of the occupation. To accompany the occupants, the occupation inspired a night dance party in front of the buildings. Under the redwood trees, music exploded. The Anarchists and Marxists of Santa Cruz joined, the Anarchists stormed the buildings and the Marxists helped develop a plan. A graduate student building is blocked. The sofas surrounded the door to prevent the police from entering. They went up the first night, during the occupation dance party, to talk to the lookouts sleeping on the concrete slabs under the trees.

They turned off the music and went home. Under the tall whispering trees, I protected the other Marxists and Anarchists that first night while sleeping on the ground with a guy I was dating, a former student. But I didn’t sleep with him before giving him an A. The Marxists and the Anarchists were locked together when the police escorted us out of the building.

The sofas remained in front of the door for three months while the building collapsed internally. But the building collapsed internally because the Anarchists and Marxists did not get along. It was a class struggle within the broader class struggle they were fighting for. Many of the Anarchists did not go to university and lived in the city. Almost all Marxists were exclusively graduate students.

I stopped taking the bus. I got off by bicycle from the campus. In the background, the ocean felt as small as each of the small buildings. I had my unremarkable exhibition. I graduated with a degree in art. I never saw him again.

I never talked to anyone about him, even though he talked to many people about me. He described me as crazy. He described me in detail to people at parties. There was an expectation in my lovers to compare what he described with what they saw when my pants fell off. I called him a douchebag and said something about his privilege before he blocked me on Facebook. This was many years ago.

I returned to campus five years later. I was invited to give a speech among many of the alumni about my achievements. I was poor and didn’t have many achievements. I stayed in a hostel and made false receipts for airline tickets and hotels where I didn’t stay to get more money from the university. Almost all of my former classmates showed up to their own speeches. So I gave my ten-minute speech early in the morning to an audience of chairs and the cameraman.

The guy never finished his doctorate. I had nothing to say to him. As far as I knew at the time, as I walked towards the city and climbed to the top of the hill along the steep road. I saw a friend or whatever she was of his, a woman who talked too much who was also the roommate of my former student slash ex-boyfriend. She had a lovechild with a former Anarchist classmate who was still in Santa Cruz and pushed the sleeping lovechild. I didn’t smile or talk to her, but I saw the top of the baby’s bald head. It reminded me of the hairline I ran my finger through. The winding road like the baby’s blond curls went down another hill. I went towards the beach until I didn’t see the baby. I was walking towards the cold gray ocean. The still water of the beach had no emotion. There were no walruses. There were no people.

Another five years later, I got married. I told my spouse about this person. He searched his name on Google and discovered his obituary. It was hard to believe he had killed himself. He never left Santa Cruz and never left his endless doctoral studies. The creepy thing was that he died at the same time that I went to campus! I never knew.

I remember him as one of the people who stayed in Santa Cruz like the ancient redwood trees. Those blue eyes that attracted me turned into the gray ocean and the white sky of Santa Cruz. I ruled out his death for being existential and philosophical because he translated so many French philosophers. But I wondered about him. I barely remember what he said behind the redwoods because the blocked screen blocked my memory too and closed the blinds of something I didn’t want to see. I can’t remember his eyes beyond the gray of the Pacific Ocean because a dead body cannot unblock on Facebook.

Todo menos la tesis

Blurry Santa Cruz He vivido en San Francisco anteriormente y a menudo he visitado Santa Cruz desde esta ciudad. Ahora soy asistente de enseñanza y estudiante de posgrado allí. Cuando vas por el pequeño camino desde la gran ciudad, los arbustos intensamente verdes continúan hasta la colina en la cima de una montaña que domina el océano Pacífico. Las secoyas enormes esconden cada uno de los edificios. Hay puentes que conectan cada uno de los edificios porque los edificios del campus no están estrechamente conectados entre sí. Dentro de la burbuja de la universidad existe una radical vida política. Un autobús público cada hora lleva a los estudiantes radicales de vuelta al centro de la ciudad. El terremoto de Loma Prieta en 1989 fracturó el centro de la ciudad y los árboles verdes en el campus ocultan la destrucción del terremoto. Las carreteras también son como las placas tectónicas. Hay nuevas señales frente a pálidos y viejos edificios que se inclinan hacia donde la tierra se hunde por las fallas, y donde los edificios del pasado, por la falta de la estructura se desmoronan.

En un autobús al campus, me encontré con sus ojos que me miraban fijamente. No sabía quién era ella, pero recuerdo aquellos ojos azules como el hielo que me mantenían hipnotizados. Esos ojos azules que atraen y se iluminan como un fuego frío en un autobús ardiente lleno de estudiantes. Apenas recordaba otra cosa, la alta línea de su cabello, bajo el cabello rubio rizado. La red social siguió el pequeño pueblo a partir del algoritmo en Facebook e hizo un pequeño pueblo digital. Rápidamente, a través de un amigo de un amigo, encontré esos ojos en Facebook.

Titulé el asunto del correo electrónico, Incómodo, pero…

¿Cómo explico lo que escribí? ¿Cómo explico la palabra inglesa para “awkward” en español? No hay una palabra lo suficientemente incómoda como para describir lo que quiero hacerte en español. No hay una palabra para “incómodo”. Qué incómodo, pero quiero conocerte. Qué incomodo, pero recuerdo tus ojos como un fuego frío. Qué incómodo, pero yo no creo en la monogamia, ¿y tú?

Pero la palabra “incómodo” rompió el hielo. Él quería que nos conociéramos.

El único lugar en el centro de la ciudad abierto hasta altas horas de la noche para charlas informales era una cafetería con luces fluorescentes al lado de la parada del autobús. Era como la luna solitaria en la noche oscura. Había nadie en la oscuridad la noche que nos conocimos, había nadie a la luz. El frío de la noche de enero penetraba a través de las ventanas de cristal y las sillas y mesas de metal a su lado. El único sonido en la noche era el horrible ruido de los tubos de escape de los autobuses. Él no vino. Esperé dos horas y me fui a casa.

Le escribí. Se disculpó y dijo que estaba muy ocupada completando una serie de traducciones de Michel Foucault del francés. Era una Marxista radical y estaba terminando un doctorado experimental. Mi universidad era famosa y notoria por tener un tema abstracto de estudio que se llamaba “La Historia de la Conciencia” que trajo activistas radicales de todo el mundo. Extrañaba el activismo de Pantera Negra de Angela Davis, quien fue encarcelada en la década de 1970 y enseña allí. Su desobediencia tampoco la hizo famosa. Él nunca abandonaría el programa, a diferencia del famoso estudiante cuya disertación rechazada se publicó y distribuyó en librerías. Parecía que uno renunciaba o se quedaba.

Había salido con un chico del mismo programa cinco años antes, que era Anarquista y no Marxista. Él seguía en el programa cinco años más tarde porque continuaban otorgándole becas estudiantiles para su apartamento en San Francisco. Nunca la vi en Santa Cruz.

Lo intenté por segunda vez. Me invitó a su casa. Vivía en una casa de huéspedes detrás de una casa gris de un solo piso, cerca del centro del pueblo. Había colocado flores cortadas alrededor de las ventanas y muchos libros abiertos. La luz de las ventanas abrumaba y formaba siluetas de los jarrones con flores recién decapitadas. Su gato era muy viejo y dormía en el armario. Rápidamente empezamos a besarnos cuando entramos. Caminamos hacia la ducha y cuando le toqué, él tuvo un orgasmo casi inmediatamente, casi al minuto. Tan pronto como él terminó, era hora de irme, pero yo lavé sus platos y dormí allí.

La segunda vez que nos vimos, hablamos de política. Le dije que era una Libertaria en un restaurante afgano. Pensé que solo creía en la autonomía. Mis estudios de arte me hicieron inconsciente de mi alrededor y consciente de mí mismo. Sus estudios de filosofía posestructural le hicieron más políticamente consciente que consciente de sí misma. Hizo una mueca detrás de mi plato de chana masala. Pero él me siguió cuesta arriba a través de las densas secuoyas hasta el departamento del campus y la cama doble. Nos acostamos juntos en la cama debajo de una brillante luz fluorescente y le miré fijamente a los ojos. La oscuridad de las ventanas en la noche se sombreaban por los gruesos troncos de las secoyas. No podían eliminar la luz brillante de los ojos que querían dejar los míos. Y él se fue.

Fue una semana dura. Fui a fiestas aburridas con la esperanza de verle. Después de que rechazó mis intentos de volver a verle, le envié una última invitación para que asistiera a una aburrida fiesta de arte de mis compañeros. Fui a la casa de huéspedes detrás de la casa gris y las luces estaban encendidas. Llamé a la puerta. Él abrió la puerta, pero parcialmente. Estaba sudorosa y el sudor permanecía en su rostro. Su boca se abrió, que se cayó por el cansancio más que la sorpresa de verme. Él sonrió como si agotada pero no estuviera agotada por mí antes de cerrar la puerta. Caminé a casa solo.

Unos meses más tarde, las secuoyas del campus en la cima de la montaña susurraron la música de la ocupación. Para acompañar a los ocupantes, la ocupación inspiró una fiesta de baile nocturna frente a los edificios. Debajo de los árboles de secuoyas, la música estalló. Los Anarquistas Marxistas de Santa Cruz se unieron, los Anarquistas irrumpieron en los edificios y los Marxistas ayudaron a desarrollar un plan. Se bloquea un edificio de estudiantes de posgrado. Los sofás rodearon la puerta para evitar que entrara la policía. Subieron la primera noche, durante la fiesta de baile de la ocupación, para hablar con los vigías que dormían en las losas de concreto debajo de los árboles.

Apagaron la música y se fueron a casa. Debajo de los altos árboles que susurraban, protegí a los otros Marxistas y Anarquistas esa primera noche mientras dormía en el suelo con una chica con la que estaba saliendo: una antigua estudiante. Pero no me acosté con él antes de darle la A. Los Marxistas y los Anarquistas se quedaron encerrados juntos cuando la policía nos escoltó fuera del edificio.

Los sofás permanecieron frente a la puerta durante tres meses mientras el edificio se derrumbaba internamente. Pero el edificio se derrumbó internamente porque los Anarquistas y Marxistas no se llevaban bien. Fue una lucha de clases dentro de la lucha de clases más amplia por la que estaban luchando. Muchos de los Anarquistas no fueron a la universidad y vivían en la ciudad. Casi todos los Marxistas eran exclusivamente estudiantes de posgrado.

Dejé de tomar el autobús. Bajé en bicicleta desde el campus. Al fondo, el océano se sentía tan pequeño como cada uno de los pequeños edificios. Tuve mi exposición poco notable. Me gradué con una licenciatura en arte. Nunca la volví a ver.

Nunca hablé con nadie sobre él, a pesar de que habló con muchas personas sobre mí. Él me describió como loco. Él me describió en detalle a las personas en las fiestas. Había una expectativa en mis amantes por comparar lo que él describió con lo que vieron cuando se caían mis pantalones. Le llamé puta y le dije algo sobre su privilegio antes de que me bloqueara en Facebook. Esto fue hace muchos años.

Volví al campus cinco años después. Fui invitado a dar un discurso entre muchos de los exalumnos sobre mis logros. Yo era pobre y no tenía muchos logros. Me alojé en un albergue e hice recibos falsos de los billetes de avión y de los hoteles en los que no me quedé para conseguir más dinero de la universidad. Casi todos de mis antiguos compañeros de clase se presentó a sus propios discursos. Así que di mi discurso de diez minutos por la mañana temprano a una audiencia de las sillas y la camarógrafa.

El chico nunca terminó su doctorado. No tenía nada que decirle a él. Por lo que yo sabía en ese momento, mientras caminaba hacia la ciudad y subía a la cima de la colina a lo largo del camino inclinado. Vi a la amiga o lo que sea, una mujer que hablaba demasiado y al compañero de cuarto de mi ex estudiante y el ex novio. Ella todavía estaba allí también. Ella empujó el carruaje de su bebe dormido. El padre era un ex compañero de clase Anarquista. No sonreí ni hablé con ella, pero vi la parte superior de la cabeza calva del bebé. Me recordó la línea del cabello por la que pasé el dedo. La sinuosa carretera como sus rizos rubios bajaba otra colina y hacia la playa y no vi el bebe. Caminaba hacia el frío océano gris. El agua quieta de la playa no tenía emoción. No había morsas. No había gente.

Otros cinco años después, me casé. Le conté a mi esposo sobre esta persona. Buscó su nombre en Google y descubrió su esquela. Era difícil creer que se había suicidado. Nunca dejó Santa Cruz y nunca dejó sus interminables estudios de doctorado. ¡Lo espeluznante era que él murió al mismo tiempo que yo fui al campus! Nunca lo supe.

La recuerdo a él como de las personas que se quedaban en Santa Cruz como los árboles secuoyas milenarios. Esos ojos azules que me atraían se volvieron en el océano gris y el cielo blanco de Santa Cruz. Descarté su muerte por ser existencial y filosófica porque él tradujo a tantos filósofos franceses. Pero me preguntaba por él. Apenas recuerdo lo que dijo detrás de las secuoyas porque la pantalla bloqueada bloqueaba mi memoria también y cerraba las persianas de algo que no quiero ver. No puedo recordar sus ojos más allá del gris del océano Pacífico porque un cadáver no puede desbloquear en Facebook.

Posted by Chris Girard in Personal, Poetry & Writing, Projects

LIKED: Set of 20 Twitter / Twaiku Poems

LIKED is a chronological selection of 400 Twitter or twaiku poems by Chris(toph) Girard and published by DEATH-SPIRAL. The poems were written and posted on my Twitter handle @Christop between 2011 and 2017. Twenty poems are featured on each set of 20 pamphlets in a hand-numbered facsimile edition of 20. Some of the ‘twaiku’ forms from LIKED include haiku, senryu (the dark haiku), tanka (5 line with rules), gogyohka (5 line freeform), sextet (6 line) and quatrain (4 line) poems. Each type of poem is labeled in its hashtag form. Some are not.

The 20 poems in 20 pamphlets (20 x 20 = 400 poems total) in a limited edition of 20 offers almost the entire oeuvre of poetry that I have written this decade. There is very little poetry that I have otherwise written, let alone published in the 2010s.

Oeuvre — maybe I am some patrician garbage poet like Robert Lowell. Unlike all the real modern American poetry that has been published in extremely ephemeral and endangered forms, all of mine is exclusively or overly attainable. I don’t even have most of it on my computer. But like all those John Wieners pamphlets that were probably not issued in runs of even twenty, whoever the followers of @Christop on Twitter that did ‘like’ them number in less than four or five. Mostly ones, according to Mark So.

twaiku twaiku

Mark So, publisher of DEATH-SPIRAL, compiled 400 of the 1001 tweets published in those eight years, thinks my Twitter poems are beautiful. He thought this way of making them available is beautiful in an oddly suitable way:

I live in a small world, and very fortunate that you have been in it, in part because it made me encounter these poems in a manner I never would have otherwise. I wanted to celebrate their small miracle in the way that I know how. Would you be any less upset if I’d lovingly made just one printout and given it to you? Because I felt that was the nature of the gift, to spend time with them and draw them out of the internet and onto paper, in the world.

Mark So, 2018


The entire set of 20 pamphlets are available here and from DEATH-SPIRAL.

Shipping is included with the price! US shipping only. For international shipping, please correspond with www.death-spiral.net. You can request any one booklet for $2 plus shipping by messaging the editor and publisher via email at  mark_so [at] hotmail [dot] com through http://death-spiral.net or through Twitter @_mark_so_.

All proceeds go to the general upkeep and the printing of the next DEATH-SPIRAL!

Posted by Chris Girard in Poetry & Writing, Projects
Questions to a(n Answerless) Specter: Collage Poems

Questions to a(n Answerless) Specter: Collage Poems

Self-published book of collage poems Questions to an Answerless Specter is a three and ½ poem book that I wrote for good old fashioned physical distribution. The journey begins at Stories Books and Cafe in Echo Park and ends at a live reading at some guy’s house in West Hollywood. Composer and conceptual artist Mark So has incorporated my reading of the poems into a cassette recording while giving me a blow job at his studio in the Royal Lake Apartments in Pico Union.

Here is a downloadable and foldable book in printable PDF form.

Or here is the page and a half in its entirety:

?’s to an Answerless Specter

Extinction is our reverse engineering


Soon followed by
and realized she
outside the fertile house
smiled, and have his hands answered
hearing the entire door
front mumbled abby
replied over and about
looking smiled again

Her parents
stuttering, seeing her john
house is sighed
breathing mouth grinned
thinking of the abbey john
his hands had given him

Tell her husband!
Tell her husband
trying to be very good alive
said son is a jake
promise me, very much

Observe john
pulled the same thing over
and again upon hearing of the warm
coat john
his hands stopped talking about

Chain trouble so fountainhead
replied the prayer
standing erect
tail at the end of our stick
plain over, drawn across
sprightly high

and gnocchi, weewee
struck the coat
john jane
squelching at water

Argon Flash

whistle, go off, raise a ghost
item abstain from common height
coupled with innards

Abate and abide
plaque sky
placate however flood
the creator
slip ship,
with scrimshaw
up the itch knee
this-that readying
mimicking volition

Animal baby, cells of crisis
solo decorate be
cause to hit
great water with ensemble
from the bottom of the feet
to the top of the head
a derelict


This rain has nothing to do
with sustainability, it is about rain

No more rhyme nor euphony
to eliminate the numeric distinction
of generic-specific relations
reflections is not the plural of reflection
in-between the pathos of nature
sundry of pains, joy

Upheld by youth, a great king
of being to the subhuman
no mesmeric outcome for a shift-shaft
tract becomes deliberate act, other

The height of distance
induces no distance
versatile earnest
forced upon the
withdrawal of plenty
periphery, jeering however as pleasurable
reckoning, a
wide nut
among them
to induce stature

Happiness is unknown
un-indiscretion with innards
cavity bordered, botched
and coupled
with logs burning, no discord
not a moment too soon, to overturn
the lost world

0 that ends with 0
begins the   from end
to end to read the __________ the
that reiterates it’s its

Posted by Chris Girard in Poetry & Writing, Projects

Death Poem: Shadows/Shadows/Tomb

A New Media Death Poem

Shadow/Shadows/Tomb, a new media video collage death poem, runs tombstones on four video screens. The videos run on a program called Max/MSP/Jitter behind the interface. The poem consists of four streaming films that are systematically arranged into a box, which create a larger poem. This happens as each of the inscriptions are juxtaposed next to each other.

Shadows/Shadows/Tomb streams for over two days without looping. This video poem, despite its name, reflects how life continues on after death. Hundreds of year old tombstones show their wear and tear underneath overgrown plant life and the creatures amid them. Video recorded on my Canon 7D also shows spiderwebs, dead leaves and flies, anything that was on top of the tombstones within the cemetery.

The poem is structured on the constraint of filming objects within the cemetery. Each individual poem uses words that compositionally and grammatically fit into the area of the box it streams in. Verbs, primarily, and objects that visually correspond to the top images are placed on the top two boxes. Nouns, exclamations and other objects are placed in the bottom two boxes to end the poem.

Chris Girard Explains Shadow Shadows Tomb, 2011

Shadow Shadows Tomb, 2011, New Media/Video Collage. This above video offers a 20 minute recording of the poem.

Nunhead, Not Heptonstall

Originally, the new media collage poem was supposed to focus on the poet Sylvia Plath and not myself. The original plan I proposed was to travel to Heptonstall, West Yorkshire, where Plath’s tombstone is located. I would film engravings and inscriptions of texts on tombstones within the perimeter of the cemetery. But the filming actually took place at Nunhead Cemetery in London, which is a cemetery proximally located to where I live.

Tombstones in each respective cemetery visually look different by the way that the environment interacts with them. Religious and cultural backgrounds of the people buried are revealed through age, use of the materials, and the inscriptions left by family members. Yet the tombstones essentially look old tombstones that belong to an old cemetery. These relics of the cemetery are documented through the particles of words and surfaces filmed from my findings.

You can find an interview about this death poem with artist Claudia Crobatia at A Course in Dying.

Life and Death

Plants and trees grow over the tombstones and the sounds of people walking and children playing symbolize both death and life. The use of cemeteries as parks in London and the plant life, animals and insects that surrounds the area becomes a poem that challenges death. Lives that intertwine next to objects that signify death show the cyclical nature of death. It shows how death is not static but becomes part of an ever-changing presence. The challenge of death, for example, is to stay dead. Death is an omnipresent re-casting of historical moments mixed within the present moment. Plants and creatures that move atop of the surface of the tombs and signify an ‘afterlife’.

The poem suggests my bodily presence in terms of the ‘author function’. Allusions of the poem document my movements, choice of engravings and artifacts that I choose to film. It is located as well by its proximity to my residence near the cemetery, which is less than a half a mile away. The new media poem references myself, places myself, as a collagist, into a working role of writing a story about identity.

This process of working with identities that are constructed after death became an important part of my research focus. Shadow/Shadows/Tomb illustrates this process through the use of a technology that is considered new media. The poem is categorized as a new media poem as the video clips run film clips in endlessly different combinations from a single location. It becomes a poem about my own identity based upon my proximity.

This proximity incorporates where I lived at the time, Brockley, London SE42JJ, to create this poem. This further goes to allude about how my identity, which is a construct of the reader, never stays the same. The proliferation of an author is as always a construct of the reader, and is therefore indistinguishable to attributes given to other authors. The role that is constructed for me will be ever-changing and wavering like with how Shadow Shadows Tomb is constructed, and meaning will endlessly change.

Nunhead Cemetery Tombstones

The Max/MSP/Jitter patch streams each of the four boxes or screens with film clips.

Max/MSP/Jitter Streams Simultaneous Video Clips

Shadow Shadows Tomb incorporates new media technology into the poem with the use of the video codes that run on a Max/MSP/Jitter patch. Constantly changing screens with a poem that figuratively never ends suggest that meaning could be determined on the process itself. Four video clips are executed and encoded on Max/MSP/Jitter to run on a loop that constantly changes. An awareness that this poem will not begin for a while becomes apparent after one spends time with it. Each of the four displays play a hand-picked selection of 12 to 15 videoclips that separately run 12, 13, 14 and 15 six second video clips. And each of the displays runs a different number of video clips. This is because two or more of the displays would otherwise constantly play the same words and objects on the screen in repetition.

An idea of this poem is for it to constantly show a different sequence of images to have unexpected and very surprising results. The poem will show different combinations of words, objects and creatures for 54.6 hours or 2.275 days before repeating itself. I calculated this by multiplying the clips together. I then multiplied this result by six seconds to calculate the total number of seconds how long it will play before combinations begin to duplicate again. I then divided the total length in seconds by 60 to calculate the minutes and divided again by 60 to calculate the hours and divided again by 24 to calculate the days.

The individual images become familiar when they constantly appear and reappear. There are a total of 54 film stills. The four displays combined with words, creatures or scenes will show different sequences for over two days. Each of the screens individually run a poem on loop as well. Changing word combinations elude to a death poem by its proximity. It changes scenes in this filmed cemetery that familiarizes the viewer. Ambient sounds, which are combined from each of the four scenes, resonate the familiarity of this location. Children playing, birds chirping and people walking over leaves show a familiar resonance of life within the proximity of the cemetery.

Evidences of life in the streaming poem make the poem more fluidly composed with the rhythm that it carries. They contextualize its British location of the cemetery as the type of fauna and accents are distinctly heard within the perimeters of these grounds. The ambient sounds imply that death is as present as life. It becomes lifelike with the sounds that reverberate its presence.

Posted by Chris Girard in Poetry & Writing, Projects, Video

Hyperpoetry: The Route Throughout

The Route Throughout is a long epic poem self-published on a paper zine in 2003 and turned to web browser-based hyperpoetry a decade-or-so later.

Zine to Hypertext…

Download the original zine here.

The paper zine was originally Google translated from a French poem, then collaged, then written, then rewritten in 2003 to 2005. Then it was republished again in 2010 and 2017. The results were originally made as a script for an experimental documentary that was never filmed. In 2005, the poem was self-published into a zine. Copies were distributed to bookstores on Valencia Street in San Francisco like Dog Eared Books and Modern Times Books.

Years later, I found the zines collecting dust in a box and began to look through the few paper copies I have left, and decided to publish it online.

The Route Throughout, Excerpt of Hypertext by Chris Girard

I embedded into the poem the filmic directions of the original script that have never been included before as an interactive element of the poem. Like TRY ME., revealing the process of how the poem was envisioned through hyperlinks is an important part of the interaction with the poem. I also included all of the surrealist photography I photographed. I scanned from a film scanner and incorporated into the paper version of zine. The black lines in some of the photo series denote the spaces between negative images.

Posted by Chris Girard in Poetry & Writing, Projects
A Max/MSP/Jitter Code Poem: Gestalt

A Max/MSP/Jitter Code Poem: Gestalt

Code Poem / Collage Poetry

Gestalt is a code poem created by using a collage of the codes that constitute and run the visual programming language Max/MSP/Jitter from Cycling ’74.

You can download the Max/MSP/Jitter patch from my website here: gestalt.zip (12.6 MB)

Technical Aspects

In order to play it, either you have Max or you may download a free trial of Max/MSP/Jitter on the Cycling ’74 downloads page, here. If you’re not interested in creating your own projects with Max/MSP/Jitter, you may also download Max Runtime which is freeware that doesn’t include editing capabilities. Max Runtime is on the right hand side of the downloads page, under “Extras.”


When I first was introduced to Max during a demonstration for a DANM orientation at UC Santa Cruz in early 2008, I was enraptured by the architectural structure of white boxes and cables. I relish the memory because I don’t remember anything else about the program nor what it was supposed to do.

At the forefront of what I still find interesting about Max/MSP is still this visual aspect of code. The code is set in a myriad of uniform and white rectangles interwoven to form an architectural substructure of boxes connected to cables or black lines. They go to a hierarchical box that represents the focal point of Max/MSP. About 200 predefined object codes not only mimic the visual and aesthetic interface of Max, but function as a poem and run the program that streams ‘poetry’. Elements embedded into the program like the sound filter and the background color visually demonstrate how the evolving imagery can be interwoven into poetry.

Code As Code

The fragments of code function with the power to output and edit another a program that streams poetry through a structure of cables that connect to make noise. In other words, what I did was collage the objects with other objects and connect some objects within the poem to external outputs. The code is edited to run in slow motion with a filter to further obstruct the voice into an inaudible one. This is so that the sound aids in the inflection of the visual poem and not distract it. I wove together predefined object codes in an attempt to create a seamless collage to mimic a visual and an aesthetic interface like Max that will function as a poem and also run a program.

The playback with media unfolds provocative allusions to programming from a slow disjointed poem. It reflects the absurd digital kitsch of which the object the code is creating. All of the words that constitute the poem are from about 200 predefined object codes. The elements of this project like the sound filter and the background color are unnecessary but demonstrate code as poetry.

I believe that Max/MSP could be provocative within the context of what the viewer is not supposed to see, hear nor interact with. The visual perspective of Max/MSP is troublesome because as a visual tool, the systematic and architectural structures of the boxes are more visually appealing to me than function of boxes as output.

Max/MSP as Visual Interface

The ease of using Max/MSP is through its visuals. Max/MSP’s visual layout offers similarities to futurist poetry over a century ago in terms of direction and output. Futurist poets explored the ways of reading poetry similar to a current of electricity flowing in several directions. A futurist poem intermingles and connect to several boxes in different directions function similarly to a these cables.

As the poem entitled Gestalt reads from left to right and downward with each line break, the cables that connect this poem simultaneously traverse from the poem to its output. Gestalt is an object code and also means a collection of entities that creates a unified concept, which is greater than the sum of its parts. How poetry and code can fundamentally be explored through its semantic structure is with language as symbols for commands that have the power to create a representation of programming as poetry.

Max/MSP as Visual Art

I believe Max/MSP excels with music and music with the aid of external electronics but I am left unconvinced that the program is suitable for dialectically accomplishing more than the equivalent of a computer screensaver. Peter Elsea advised me to implement in my poetry in a colorful 3D display of traveling text in standing gravity with point perspective.

I thought about the dancing sentence and how it could be written with so many codes is really limiting to the exploration of text itself. While the dancing sentence follows a serious digital kitsch movement in interactive poetics, which pokes fun at mainstream Internet culture and its overuse of bright neon colors and revolving texts, this kind of enticement is not my cup of tea. What I tried to accomplish with Max was to show aesthetics of code and partly with the program’s interface that isn’t used or shown in art.

The code structurally represents how the poem can be recreated. Similarly, the evolving imagery is a visual representation of poetry in its composition and movement. Each box represents a single still image as part of a series like film stills to a moving image. The random fading in and out of imagery is to show a visual connection between the compositions of the imagery.

The inspiration for the visual and audio portion of this project, which I created on Soundtrack Pro is filmmaker Hollis Frampton. Hollis Frampton inspires me because his video cutups, specifically from his film Palindrome, represent a fragmentation of frame stills to achieve a dialectic result, like poetry, between each still. What he did in Palindrome was weave the ends of several filmstrips to create an abstract film of different shapes. Both of our cut-ups represent a disembodiment of its original form.

Posted by Chris Girard in Code, Poetry & Writing, Projects

A Book of Hypertext Poems: TRY ME.

A Hypertext Book

The hypertext book of poems, entitled TRY ME., can be viewed here.

Spam, or more colloquially known as unsolicited junk email, is collaged to create this series of hypertext poems. I collected spam over the course of an eight month period and then began working the magic. Embedded passages of literature are therefore found in the spam. The original spam emails are rearranged and collaged with the embedded literature to form a new and hybrid poem.

I kept all of the words from the original literature in the process of collaging the poems that constitute TRY ME. Literary excerpts include J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.



While an anagram is the rearrangement of letters from a given word or phrase to another, a lexical anagram is the rearrangement of a lexicon or words from one given body of text to another. I employed a ‘lexical anagram’ as a binding constraint to conjoin the writing of this digital book of poems. This conjoining of words means that all of the words from the source body are woven into the new one.



Hypertext page excerpt of TRY ME by Chris Girard
A reader interacts with TRY ME. by clicking on a series of hyperlinks that appear on each new page. Each hyperlink changes the context and meaning of the preceding poem. Text blinks and moves throughout the page to modify how each of the poems is read on subsequent pages. The poems are displayed in chronological order from which the spam was found. The original date shows the date in 2006 from which the spam was retrieved.

Posted by Chris Girard in Code, Poetry & Writing, Projects

A John Berryman Collage Poem – Henry’s Body

Henry’s Body: A Thousand Hacks is an audio collage poem made from the all the words taken from poet John Berryman’s reading of his poem Dream Song 29. The project consists of an audio collage from a 1970s recording of confessional poet John Berryman’s drunken reading of his poem Dream Song 29. It was cut up using SoundTrack Pro.

This poem, also known as Poész, constitutes part of a collaborative project with Algerian artist and fellow MFA in Digital Arts and New Media at UC Santa Cruz cohort Lyés Belhocine. Stanzas of the collaged poem are randomized by MAX/MSP/Jitter to sequentially play audio in five and seven syllables.

Henry’s Body: A Thousand Hacks

Click hereto view the PDF version of how I organized the text collage of John Berryman’s Dream Song 29.

This two minute video of the poetry reading offers you to listen to the cut-up poem and read my iteration of the audio collage of John Berryman’s reading of Dream Song 29 from 2009.

This is a screenshot of the MAX/MSP/Jitter program that was built to play the stanzas on multiple speakers.

Posted by Chris Girard in Poetry & Writing, Projects, Video

MFA Thesis: Ten and One Left: Eleven-Line Poems

Ten and One Left is a 64-page series of 11 line poems taken and collaged from my old LiveJournals from 2001 to 2004. This book constitutes two years of my MFA studies at Otis College of Art and Design and is the practice component of my MFA thesis from 2008.


Download OTIS MFA Thesis

Ten and One Left is viewable in its entirety as a downloadable PDF. It offers a look into my collage process:



Eleven-Line Poems

Poetry on Yelp by Chris Girard

Ten and One Left, the series of eleven-line poems, is collaged from my old LiveJournals. These LiveJournal usernames are quietness and qu, and were used from 2001 to 2004. Like the nonsensical or cryptic tags that are often embedded into blog posts, I reposted the poems onto social reviewing websites including Yelp. As a result, the poem lived on Yelp for eight and a half years until it was deleted by Yelp admins in 2016.


Symbol of Eleven

As part of my MFA thesis at Otis College of Art and Design, a baby Ars Poetica of mine details my philosophy about the eleven line poems. I explored the meaning of eleven. While eleven is imperfect in its quantity, 11 (two ones) is perfect at face value.

Eleven is a symbol for the imperfect and yet is a very symmetrical number that has a symbolic relationship with the exterior like an outsider (like Eleven from Stranger Things) and the spectacle of a crowd. The number eleven is derived from the old English word Endleofan. It literally means ten and one left or the base of one plus a second element.

While the poems are subservient to a number of lines, they explore obstruction. The obstructiveness repurposes the former poems by the illustration and change of a public text’s exposure. The texts which inspire the set of poems are read by a plural audience to experience a feeling of homogenized familiarity. The feeling of disconnection resounds in the subsequent poem. And it evokes a thought or emotion set in false pretenses. The struggle is to make ephemeral texts durable by collaging a lyrical cadence of paradoxes.

Posted by Chris Girard in Poetry & Writing, Projects

Conceptual Writing Is (Un)conceptual Writing

These are conceptual writing posed as conceptual art. These are a series of reimagined street signs. They were shown at Browns Coffee in London on the left.

I left this person named “godblessamericathierry” on eBay negative feedback after they cancelled a transaction. They patted themselves on the back for deciding that the headphones weren’t good enough to send by sending me a long message about how they did this. It irritated me and I left negative feedback. They subsequently sent me a series of these messages. I posted these eBay complaints on the eBay message board. Someone said something along the lines that they weren’t getting the entire story here. But this was the entire story!


What is conceptual writing?

Conceptual writing is writing that has a stance outside of the text. This writing is conditioned by the materiality of the screen, the non-materiality of the webpage and its activation and interaction. It includes non-writing like asemic writing, interactive writing like hypertext and things like flarf. Flarf is a thing that appropriates writing from online spam advertisements.

Artists include:
Kenneth Goldsmith, Shelley Jackson, Christian Bok, Vanessa Place, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Tom Phillips, among others.

This is the deletion of the poem Plein Air Cafe from Yelp. It was written and posted by Chris Girard in 2008 and deleted by Yelp in 2016.

A former professor of mine once said of poetry that you can’t sell out because there’s no one buying in. My approach to writing is through an exploration of identity with collage poetry. And how such constructs manifest inside mobile and web browsers. Writing for me is re-writing something from the past. Something that is living in some other historical moment.

This is the code poem created from all of the codes on Max/MSP/Jitter by Chris Girard.


Ars Poetica

This exploration of conceptual writing goes hand in hand with my poetry. The process is usually about identity and sexuality. And the result is usually something disjointed, lyrical, minimal and musical. The collage poem tends to reflect my obsessional nature of things.

The process becomes the constant ticking, thinking and the tearing of an object/subject apart. The disjointed construction of a conceptual writing piece reveals my own thought process of thinking far into its minutia of individual words. The bigger picture vaporizes into an opaque mist that is carried by the rhythm and helps keep it together.

If you want to read more, I have a 60,000 word Ph.D. thesis about this stuff here.

This is a collection of previously published and some unpublished poems from 2004 onward. This conceptual writing portfolio of sorts does not include the poems from the multimedia collections that consist of TRY ME., and Ten and One Left.


Mystic Nil (2015)

Whisper, whisper nil river
whisper ear worm! mirror, gasp!
as a whisper canter
nil will repeat in a high pitch voice
people question what – that they don’t speak
highest pitch – ever?

Why, when, what happened
is a difficult response to –
back in the day, we overheard patients
talk about loved ones
parents shake their heads
‘is just not natural!’

Entanglement and –
not – pressed so close
so blue, so often – sets it constant, so to speak
like life that just couldn’t handle life –
brings with it candlelight
poses for
an engagement
falls it apart


John 10 of Doors (2005)

I am out of: the door
and by out, I stand factory stacked: by me
and if by me: if I call to five different doors by any man
he shall find the wall I locked myself in to

Day-drained: four hours changed: and nine grew until
a man entered a car I locked myself out of
I go in and out, I go, and I find his attention standing
over-involved behind me

He spoke still, still in time terms and yet I – (harsh-lit)
I don’t see what he conceived to me

The man scared across from me: my point
wore faith so tall to illustrate his life frame

slight coughs
sex outdoors: numerous booths

passing his indirect product until
everything he could jail: bore over me
I wasn’t really me this morning

Caught: if any enter in he shall be saved
no soft guarantee involved

I am the door: I locked all that I held myself out of
he shall uplift the handlebar I locked myself in
and by 10:9 I shall bed with man: just him
maybe for a lifetime


The Burrowing Owl (2008)

Speotyto Cunicularia

The world is submerged
like a bulldozer written in my head
but flooding on higher ground
horrendous and still

Earth is on the road
imitating land
tall from a crease
on two loose ends
excavation and passing

Voices on the thumb align
evaporating the pass
why follow through?
It will not
be the last goodnight

Our horizons
softly folding ourselves
praising thunderstorms

The pen from its core
diamond judgment
stitching up
way up
the sky


Childhood (2007)

for all the children
a feather-width nonsense
to their languish
over trivial disciplines
the elder’s faith
asleep with highlights
red lights
worm wit, incipit
signaling is meddling
rather than
a lived, reversed

be stable
my dog, a hearse is relevant
to those who drive
on the right
is permeating
from any thoughts
limns, holes
or in twelve hours
the first morning
is warm
nets with velvet for quite an
ethical thief
be able to fight


For Kurt Cobain (2008)

Reach for it
reach for the moment
it takes
again however it
plays for the big things
trying, it’s time
to drop this pain
to a smile

It’s that time
it’s necessary
then it’s not, no it’s not
however it depths
for how long?
I do not know

Strip for it, trial for it
then bust a repertoire
I quit, I got over it
through it
though I never knew it
had too far to let go
when I withdrew it

Left mother Bunny
I’ll hand her back
walk all over
what is a memory
published, perished
this card is the end
but splendid
is a liver in water


Botany (2007)

Botany: context from her canvas

I close
end in row
standing for those who give way
had they both become better victims

Side one
life is second –
stand for another
woven inside any sill set of awareness
defending over any near-right collar

Fibers and tile
positions by convictions
starch-less streets, tight like pure –
how one held across the long fastening wake
over direction along any deviant devastation,
birth or none

Botany: from thread to gateway

Invade on –
secure for, rise to
rejoice from! Beam
and feed in, stand lethal
offer secure sharp pushes

Round right, buttock up
rose by basin, stray until solid
tune a blur to end any quiet lens –
season successful groin from a fine
feeding intestine

Crown a digest upon text –
hide window, lock courage
distant with footing across irrelevance
witness whether binary where ordinary
invites fall valentine


Graceful Fauntleroy
Any Distorted Lies, As An Excuse (2004)

Mamma him, his father was ill, his mother, very ill, shut down
Fifty percent
more abortions left his widowed mamma optimistic
in America

hard-hearted life changes and grandfather’s wishes
transforming curves into
hard lines, they were poor if possible
if able to buy a boy’s good
nature, no pride made him rich
a favored bourgeois holocaust

Pale and thin
beginning to sit in her chair covering up by the window
eyes dressed in
black, all the dimples gone, her pretty face
against her will, suddenly
looked large, a mournful deformation
liquidation repeats again

Brought to England, grandson grew up by letting go
estranged from the
original trust, no one, he returned home
and everything was over, knew
nothing never asking why
whatever about it never carried burden on his shoulder


Dark at Blues Cubist Circle (2004)

Ah’ve been sleepin’ on floors
fought out like a full black-burn
missin’ my karaoke cue at the Booby Trap
toughen up for the ending 20 miles much farther
on a coolin’ chorus line, ah’ll
live as long

Is good when life is simple
this is the best
time of my life

Ah gave up the thinkin’ device
shut myself
in with this window, shut light
shut shade, even stingin’ in many
tattoos can’t mend this shutdown
gone out on the hunt for trouble, burnin’
lots of bridges
losin’ my wolfish shoes, inkin’ in a housin’


Barra (2010)

for The Boy Who Lived Before

You’re me under the telescope
seeing all the change in West Lothian
too, my bed of gas
silent cheeks to shave until you
release the viscus
to an all and meaningful exit
patches, parody of God
break of the Prison, no enemies
no friends

Have you?

It seems you materialize
to evolve me
impair as to what I am capable of
you’re my lips, fancy that child
broken and above the rust
a threat is he
my tan industrial complex
forgive me, the stars
they have enough time to


World War Ill: Riot’ve September 17th, 1904 (2004)

Spelled [i]ll

up me
up me up,
up me down
lend me fear
or catch me,
lend me brave;
or land me on
where you go,

one be knock
my me a heart;

where be

l ll will buck up
be back in wake
be buck up ll
be wither me;

a helping hand
a moment
is mine be
I’ve be mine
a hit hard honor
start’ve like fear
me let,
let me start
let me,


The Green Gleaners Glit Collect By Hit (2004)

“False promise and no thought!” declared a man
who trusts
no one, laughing over others
his accidents make more species than

Soft emotions to an all short story known
met a corner cold creature of another man’s making
shaped by the
will of those who known-me-not
bending weaker-wills beneath his own
tyrant throat

Possessed by a fool-fueling full food formula for deception
desires as simple still tracks do most meet minor threat
his suspicions, analyzing his superstitions
recognized the blindly
read truth

Justifying may well just the awaited answer
housing condiments claim to a top-felt tool
for any evil inability, enslaving answers
to his yearn imaginings

Witting or unwilling working without
housing the victim until those around who answer
regret to be left


Key Be Me (2004)

Alone I walk a help own get
because how I own, do my own
I, the will of a way, a (move) on
walk by with feel
of ears going, love would
with would, sing little
worry love

Anything for them, love
me, little me, help with of
does me sing, help up my I
does be little sing my
and tune

Tune be me of would by get
and own on, you’re by the with
I’ll friends

Think and sing a my get
what from sing you help high
key my ears would,
would ears out,
I’ll be my tune to on by not
I to sang song think
if walk

Out a do up
when out is and I help day
help little, get by your I, of friends
sad my little i up, of you
help out

I i with does, worry on to my,
friends the I
a help be tune by get, does
by the with, with friends will
think and are


Aurora Coffins (2004)

The slow moon, exhausted by the afternoon
advances the sun, with the
power to decide
who to feat furtive fruits

Cut rare from a
threshold of the room
with the pungent twilight fields, dawn red fissures
horizon to the solitaire sky, once so old gets late

Hereto ergo, the
internal night fire, tired of light
binds your body, bowties your cold feet
to ice
and another full-fertile heart straightened up
like an erection, as an omen



Selected Publications

Shampoo Poetry, Moria Poetry, The Diagram



“Chris Girard’s poetry works with extremes: up against a sonic wall, emotively charged and furtively encrypted pieces of verses pushing out towards unforeseen continuities. A charged voice of Eros — in the lucid call of one of these poems:

Steeped with obsession
from cross-over webs of railroad intellectuality
to become simple dignity, lonely handwork.

The intricacies and radical game enacted in the poetry reaches into a hidden pocket and steals a live-wire current, stumbling into exacting and hermetic song. The poem knows what is said can only be said in poetry. A mystery place gets exposed briefly, where, to steal meaning from these lines (one can’t help it),

Mistakes insisting to one breath or one investigation
in one organized work, tremulous seeking move
take on a side trip here to the voice and present.”

Steve Dickison, Director
The Poetry Center, 2006

“First of all, I appreciated the thoughtfulness and thoroughness (with respect to the pursuit of an idea) of Ten and One Left. From the concept behind it, to the careful execution of the poems themselves and their organization into a meaningful structure, the collection I thought was well done and successful as a thesis.

That said, I did have a problem with the work, and that was its homogeneity. Line length aside, the poems are all very similar – same tone, stylistic register, lexicon, etc. – such that, as a reader, the overall impression I came away with was one of an overwhelming sameness that in the end left me wanting. This feeling wasn’t mitigated by the rhythmic shifts resulting from sections with more than one poem per page: though this was a welcome change, since the poems in these sections were cut from the same cloth as the others, it almost felt like no change at all, and I found myself waiting for something to disrupt the evenness of the collection, though in the end nothing ever did. While I’m not suggesting that you introduce contrast for the sake of contrast, I do feel that some tear in the otherwise uniform fabric of Ten and One Left would be a welcome quality, and perhaps even serve to emphasize the “one left” that does not belong in the group with the other ten.

I also wonder about the necessity of the introductory note, which I think should be edited down considerably, if not eliminated altogether. I found your comments on the number 11 interesting, but much of the rest seemed to me inconsequential. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of explanatory forewords in books of poetry.”

Guy Bennett, Poet/Translator
Otis College of Art & Design, 2009


“I truly enjoyed reading your poetry collection […] Many times throughout the poems there are wonderful gatherings of words and phrases:

metaphors ‘like blank skins that stare at lessons’

and teasing phrases ‘voracious rap the ender is a blender vowels collapse’

or ‘incompatible deserts complete the idioms moral’

‘Stormy weather hums a whimper’

I guess I prefer most the single poems on the page; they allow me to study and observe, working through your dense sense of language.

But the work is truly dense, and sometimes that leaves even a tongue-teaser poet like me facing a sort of wall of language that I can’t seem to move through. Particularly in the double poems, I can’t seem to truly interrelate the poems, to enmesh them either by reading across or down in the most discrete traditional poem-like manner. There’s also a sort of breathlessness, with imploding phrases upon phrases which piles up the language to such a degree that I can’t know where I’m/it’s going.

I think that you have a wonderful way with language, but you aren’t always ‘hearing’ the words as you move through them, but are ideationally piling them up in a way that is sometimes a bit frustrating.

Again, there are so many excellent moments ‘camouflage on the static injection buries below earth,’ but how does that interesting vision of camouflage relate to ‘and out of school during the day of sleep’? I’m not precisely seeking a narrative flow, but sometimes I can’t understand why the same phrases on the pages with the others.

I just think you need to think some of this out a bit more. I see that you are publishing in small journals, and that’s wonderful. I am sure that eventually, you will pare away the unnecessary flux that seems to crumble your beautiful phrases, metaphors, etc.

But it was fascinating work, and I’d rather have it difficult, as you know, tha[n] transparently simple.”

Douglas Messerli, Editor
Green Integer, Sun & Moon Press, 2009

Posted by Chris Girard in Poetry & Writing, Projects