derek beaulieu is the author of two books of poetry (with wax, Coach House, 2003; fractal economies, talonbooks, 2006). In 2005, he co-wrote frogments from the frag pool: haiku after basho with Gary Barwin (Mercury, 2005), and co-edited the controversial, best-selling, anthology Shift & Switch: new Canadian poetry (Mercury, 2005) with Jason Christie and a.rawlings. Since 1997, beaulieu has edited a series of literary magazines (including filling Station, dANDelion and endNote). His small press—housepress (1997-2004)—is now archived in its entirety at Simon Fraser University. His visual artwork—which engages the distinction between text and image—has been exhibited internationally. While he lectures on poetry and community in Canada, the US and the UK, he currently lives in Calgary with his young daughter, and is employed as a high-school instructor.
Talonbooks (Vancouver, 2006)
In fractal economies, derek beaulieu pushes the limits of poetry and poetics by grinding language through the mill of photocopiers, found material, collage, printmaking, frottage and Letraset—creating a new language for the genre. These “fractal economies,” or series of increasingly complex replications of forms through the repeated application of a fixed set of rules, challenge the status quo of poetry and of the politics of language itself, which is, with respect to any human script yet deciphered, capitalist in its very origin. Letters are freed from their “normal” behavior, machines are let loose to create on their own and the borders between poetry and artwork are blurred. In an intriguing and well-argued afterword, beaulieu also theorizes ways that concrete poetry—poetry that deals with language in a physical, material way—can move forward into the twenty-first century beyond the limitations of the page, the author and even the poem itself.
“derek beaulieu folds his bountiful letters into this beautiful fractal, which, when folded, looks as bold as a bounding fountain full of glitter, letting us better see his bit of two-bit beauty (far too futile to be free to act as art at all)—until we see that all his fonts are sold to us as his found bounty, fitful in their fetters, like our litter, which is never fully useful, but is bought, like freight, to break the back of capital.”
“fractal economies is the bleeding edge of the paper cut.”
“fractal economies is a map of semantic possibilities and new directions. beaulieu skillfully makes strange with previously established poetic language and, in doing so, opens up a world of subversive traces which reveal the way language manipulates and is manipulated.”
—Jon Paul Fiorentino
“beaulieu’s major contribution to poetry in this country is his incessant foregrounding of the modes of production and the technological apparatuses surrounding the creation of poetry, and the possibilities inherent in rethinking the impact of these technologies on the ‘poem’ itself … The book’s inclusions tend to represent truly the best of beaulieu’s poetic practice … beaulieu’s visual poems, in addition to being wonderful aesthetic objects, question the role of art and the impact of technology in a world that is becoming increasingly technocratic, utilitarian, and totalitarian.”
“fractal economies has the potential to be like Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, which taps the vein of jazz for many listeners and musicians. Never read a book of concrete poetry before? This might be the one to hook you.”
— FFWD Weekly
“Where beaulieu has made a significant contribution to the tradition is in his innovative use of business machines and office supplies to revitalize the techniques of concrete poetics … At their best, beaulieu’s creations function at the level of a Rorschach ink blot—the reader can gain insight into his or her own emotions/thoughts by projecting onto a neutral image … [In the] cogent though sometimes challenging afterword … beaulieu makes a compelling case for the need of a standardized and serious approach to the study of concrete poetry, and also for the abandoning of dismissive claims of the movement’s infancy and/or marginality.”
— Antigonish Review
“… a book as graphically rich as it is literary …”
— Prairie Books NOW
“In derek beaulieu’s Fractal Economies, language regards itself, stalks itself, begins, slowly, to eat itself.”
— Canadian Literature