The Goldberg Variations by Clint Burnham

The Goldberg Variations

  • Poetry
  • 88 pages, 6×9 inches
  • Price: $16 CAD · $16 USD
  • ISBN: 9781554202096
  • Date published: 2024-04-11
  • Availability: in print & available


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About The Goldberg Variations

The Goldberg Variations takes as its organizing principle the idea of contingency – the world thrown into Being that the poet encounters – and variation, or Bach’s looping, recombinant system, as a way to turn into verse what shows up in the Notes app – with all the affordances of certain line lengths, the overheard, pop culture, jargon, slang and invective, tree talk, the political and the beautiful, and organizes that raw material, that “language”, into the building blocks of the poem – sonnets and columns, words big and small, short and long, the clusterfuck of 2020 and before and since, desire and lack and maybe luck, good or bad.

‘The feeling I get when reading The Goldberg Variations is like looking out the window of a high speed train, except we don’t have those here. Also, the ear doesn’t look, even if we "do the mask discard for the gram.” Still, everything is moving faster and faster, so I can’t re-cognize until it’s passed (past). Resistance gets “levelled up” into whatever stage of madness this is, I’ve lost track. But Burnham keeps up while refusing to not remember, which is funny in time’s almost. Absurd the ways language spins out in societies of control. That is to say, even as its (t)errors are splicing things up in the feedback loops, this poetry is my listening’s hearing getting better.’
-- Laura Elrick, author of What This Breathing

The Goldberg Variations pays attention to everything at the same time, from Mariupol to Attawapiskat, marshalling observation, slogan, idiom, and heard speech into the tyrannical counterpoint of typed text. Its preoccupations are degenerate and internationalist, weighing in on tactics of resistance, 80s conceptualism, and the efficacy of the cockroach traps around Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s childhood bed. This writing is an ethic of rampant engagement, “of voting with your feet”, of being there (everywhere).’
— Hamish Ballantyne, author of Tomorrow is a Holiday

About Clint Burnham

Clint Burnham is a poet and academic from Comox, British Columbia. His recent books include Pound @ Guantanamo (Talon, 2016), and White Lie (Anvil, 2021). Burnham’s writing has appeared in The Capilano Review, Artforum, The Globe and Mail, and The Vancouver Sun. He has taught at the University of British Columbia, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Capilano College, and, since 2007, at Simon Fraser University.

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