“The detritus of signage is all around us. The poems in Derek Beaulieu’s riveting new collection begin by resembling the signs, logos & slogans of everyday life—and then become more & more unreadable. No two of these constellations are alike; each promises something it cannot quite fulfill, as readability, having failed, gives way to lookability. So suggestive are these images that we cannot stop looking, trying to decipher, to arrest the flow. Kern presents moments of poetic nostalgia for the signposts of a past that never fully existed.” — Marjorie Perloff, author of Infra-thin: An Experiment in Micropoetics and Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century
Proposed as a collection of imaginary logos for the corporate sponsors of Borges’s Library of Babel, Kern balances on a precipice between the visual and nonsensical, offering poems just out of meaning’s reach. Using dry-transfer lettering, Beaulieu made these concrete pieces by hand, building the images gesturally in response to shapes and patterns in the letters themselves. This is poetry closer to architecture and design than confession, in which letters are released from their usual semantic duties as they slide into unexpected affinities and new patterns. Kern highlights the gaps inside what we see and what we know, filling the familiar with the singular and the just seen with the faintly remembered.
This title is released as an open access second edition as part of punctum’s Special Collections project.
Frank Davey, “Will Naomi Klein Read Derek Beaulieu’s KERN?,” London Open Mic Poetry Archive.
Mike Sonksen, “Ordinary to Otherworldly: Four Poetry Books,” Cultural Daily.
Olivia Niland, “Visual Poetry Collection ‘Kern’ Meshes Literature And Art,” neon tommy.
Derek Beaulieu is the author/editor of over twenty-five collections of poetry, prose, and criticism. His most recent volume of fiction, Silence, is forthcoming from Sweden’s Timglaset Books, and his most recent volume of poetry, Surface Tension, was published by Toronto’s Coach House Books. Beaulieu has won multiple local and national awards for his teaching and dedication to students, including the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal for his dedication to Albertan literature, and is the only graduate from the University of Calgary’s Department of English to receive the Faculty of Arts “Celebrated Alumni Award.” Beaulieu holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Roehampton University, has served as poet laureate of both Calgary and Banff, and is the Director of Literary Arts at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
punctum books is a sparkling diamond open access press with no author-facing fees. In order to survive, we depend on our readers to support our operation. If you want to support the open access mission of punctum books, please consider donating to our press and subscribing to our newsletter.