“Assuming as Little as Possible”: An Introduction to Bridging the Literary Border, Part II: Spring 2014 Svpplement.

by E Martin Nolan

What do we assume? A great many things, as we must. We cannot live in the chaos of reality, so our senses create a lie of order within which we can reasonably assume certain governing principles. We do a similar thing at our higher levels of thinking. When you say “national border” to me, you call up a number of basic shared assumptions, granting us a common position. But when is it appropriate to challenge such assumptions? And what is the danger of not doing so? The first and most obvious danger is boredom. If we accept, for instance, that the U.S. and Canada are separate entities holding distinct cultural values—or if we assume the opposite is true—we are missing out on all the subtleties that emerge when those assumptions are challenged. “Bridging the Literary Border, Part I” addressed a great many assumptions regarding the U.S., Canada, and the relations …...



“A Sublimer Sort of Clownishness”: Nationalism as a Joke .

by Ira Wells

One of the more notorious episodes in the annals of pop Canadiana took place in April of 2009, when CBC Radio personality Jian Ghomeshi attempted to interview Billy Bob Thornton. Thornton—part-time actor, part-time musician, full-time asshole—was apparently aggrieved by the fact that Ghomeshi, in his introduction, had described him as an “Oscar-winning screenwriter, actor, and director.” Thornton, who was touring with his band, The Boxmasters, wanted no mention of his movie career, and had apparently instructed the show’s producers “to not talk about shit like that.” Ghomeshi stuck up for himself by asserting that Thornton’s day job as a world-famous movie star was not exactly irrelevant context for the interview. What followed was a weirdly passive-aggressive piece of performance art: Asked when the band formed, Thornton feigned bafflement: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Asked about his musical influences, Thornton told a long, meandering story about how, as …...


“Even Though We’re Still Entangled”: An Interview with Molly Peacock, Jason Guriel, and Robert McGill.

by E Martin Nolan

Molly Peacock, a poet and a creative non-fiction writer, is the author of The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72 (2010) and six books of poetry, including The Second Blush (2008) and Cornucopia: New & Selected Poems (2002). Among other works is a memoir called Paradise, Piece By Piece (1998) and How To Read a Poem and Start a Poetry Circle (1999). She is the editor of a collection of creative non-fiction, The Private I: Privacy in a Public World (2001) and the co-editor of Poetry in Motion: One Hundred Poems from the Subways and Buses (1996). Former Poet-in-Residence at the American Poets’ Corner (Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, New York) and former President of the Poetry Society of America, Peacock is one of the creators of Poetry in Motion on subways and buses throughout North America. From 2001–2012 she served on the faculty of the Spalding University Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts program. She is Series Editor …...