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The Mad Phoenician Meets Julia Kristeva

I have been writing the Abject Alphabet since the 1980s, after Kroetsch’s Sad Phoenician, I must be the Mad Phoenician I thought. I met Julia Kristeva when she was promoting a novel which I’ve since given away. I discovered my friend Peter Dueck (rhymes with dew ick) was in Toronto for national meetings as I was, I was. We were looking for something to do the evening before our meetings started, and I saw that Julia Kristeva was launching her new novel Samurai at the University of Toronto. If we hoofed it we might get to the hall in time. We did we did.

Julia Kristeva

Oh man, the watch, the ring, the teeth, Hooooolleee! So. crucify me for objectifying Kristeva. 

I sure did buy many of her critical texts including Power of Horror with its focus on abjection and Black Sun about melancholia and depression.  As a neurodivergent this was significant, as was the Revolution in Poetic Language. These books were sold at the top of the lecture hall in Toronto, I did not have the legs even back in the 1990s to go back down the stairs, and up again to leave.  

Peter still had the legs, probably still does, at least two of them, me one less. I was too embarrassed to send him down to the bottom of the lecture hall, and/or wave her to wait as the line was petering out, I might say, for him or me or new pro-nuns twee I’ve lost the drift, the gist the grist I flail. Her texts have been significant in my life, however unsigned. When Peter and me crossed Yonge St back to our separate hotels, we were slowed by a party, second last win before the Jays won the whole she-bang, the party already in swing!

Kristeva is still living as far as I know, her reputation somewhat tarnished for meeting with Bulgarian spooks reminding her she might be free in France, but her family was not. I read Camus, Sartre, de Beauvoir. I read Barthes and Melanie Klein, all now apparently out of date (except The Plague good for another edition.) like I dreamed last night being sent away from the University of Manitoban newspaper that I co-edited for a year, and Artspace where I had been President of the Board.  And where my Look show curated by Murray Toews opened on April 29. I was too afraid. I was too anxious to go, filling the porcelain bowl with blood a shade it could be argued was haemorrhoidal or amber grease, I crapped out once again. 

I have just been reminded by looking for Kristeva’s  picture that she has been married to David Sollers for fifty years. Mymother, Susann with 2nns and Enns with 2 nns (nee Klassen) was married to my father Frank F. Enns for more than fifty years. My parents, however lived together. 

My mother’s  first photo portrait, and wallet sized. She will likely be getting used to dentures, having most all of her teeth pulled when she was 17. I draw your attention to her wrist and her finger.



If I were a sniper I would shoot myself in the mirror.

If I were a stripper I would take all your clothes off with a bump and grind.

If I were a spy I would let you know where I am.

If I were a sinner I would never be able to forgive myself.

If I were a victor I would mourn my losses.

If I was as pretty as I feel I wouldn’t touch myself.

If I were a dancer I would hold up the wall.

If I were a robber I would stick-up myself.

If I were a cop I would resist arrest.

If I were a carpenter I would cut off my balls with a box cutter.

If I were a doctor I would make myself sick.

If I were a lawyer I’d sue myself for malpractice.

If I were a gardener I wouldn’t let myself in.

If I was I would never be. 



If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself. If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience. Mao




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I listen to music, read, write poetry and prose, and make videocasts, usually in collaboration with visual and media artist Murray Toews. I am a writer with disabilities, or a disabled writer, or a neurodivergent crip writer. You choose the point of entry for your reading;  there are no border guards.  The welcome mat is out. Stomp your feet and leave your shoes on. 

Love & Surgery (Radiant 2019) is my most recent collection of words about love and loss, including my below-the-left- knee amputation, my most visible disability. "Lousy cartilage genetics,"  the surgeon's note. Lucky for me no phantom leg pain. Disappearing cartilage makes for severe osteoarthritis. Real pain is now an everyday companion, but usually held back enough with meds and meditation, to allow for making poems, stories, jokes, aphorisms all true enough, remembering narrators are unreliable and writers make shit up. 

Afghanistan Confessions, poems in the voice of Canadian soldiers, was published in 2014, boy in 2012. Lucky Man (2005) was nominated for the McNally Robinson Manitoba Book of the Year award.