2. Paul Noble's Nobson Newtown
Whereas Holzer uses buildings as a site for poetry, the British artist Paul Noble literally makes poems out of buildings. From a birds-eye view, the fictional city of Nobson Newtown is filled with deteriorating buildings that, examined closely, are 3-D letters. And in the midst of his decay, poetry is everywhere: “Ye Olde Ruine (One)” depicts the letters of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, while the decrepit buildings of ”Nobson Central” actually spell out the first lines of T.S Eliot’s “The Waste Land.”
3. bpNichol Lane
Sometimes poetry can be pedestrian, in the most literal sense. One of Canada’s foremost experimental poets, bpNichol (born Barrie Phillip Nichol), tried his hand at nearly every form, from sound poems (documented by Michael Ondaatje) to poems stitched on pillowcases. One of his shortest poems has been carved into the asphalt behind Coach House Books, and simply reads: "A / LAKE / A / LANE / A / LINE / A / LONE”—and can be seen on Google Street View.
4. James Franco's Herbert White
The famous actor wears many other hats (author, academic, film director) so it comes as no surprise that he’d somehow transform a poem into a film. Frank Bidart’s “Herbert White,” a dramatic monologue spoken by a necrophiliac murderer, is a poem so disturbing that one of my teachers “has to apologize for teaching it.” And yet the transition from the page to the screen is a success—and memorable enough, too, that the young director will be publishing his own poems about the experience: Directing Herbert White.
5. Christian Bök's Xenotext
Films decay, paper crumbles, buildings fall. If a poem has to truly endure, it can only do so by becoming part of nature. Enter Christian Bök, Canada’s foremost experimental poet. “I propose to encode a short verse into a sequence of DNA in order to implant it into a bacterium,” he writes in The Xenotext Experiment. “I hope, in effect, to engineer a primitive bacterium so that it becomes not only a durable archive for storing a poem, but also a useable machine for writing a poem.” In other words: the world’s first animate poem. The words to be encoded in the bacterium are “Any style of life / is prim,” which will be transformed into “The faery is rosy / of glow.” What will future generations and aliens make of this near-immortal poem? One can only guess.