Dominik Parisien is the author of the poetry collection Side Effects May Include Strangers (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020) and his recent work has appeared in journals such as Maisonneuve, PRISM International, Queen’s Quarterly, and The Literary Review of Canada, among others. Dominik is a disabled, bisexual French Canadian. He lives in Toronto.
Earlier this year Dominik collaborated with musician Forest Muran for a joint performance at the LOMP reading series in London, Ontario. Forest adapted and reinterpreted Dominik’s poetry through music.
v. (1) to collaboratively smelt artistic disciplines and perform the result;
(2) to observe (1) (see omnivore).
n. (1) an instance of lomping, usually at TAP in London, ON and taking place on the first wednesday of every month.
The organizers, Erica McKeen and Kevin Heslop, emphasize the collaborative nature of their reading series. Instead of a traditional reading, featured poets are invited to work with an artist of their choice. The collaboration can take just about any form, from visual arts to dance to music to whatever the poet considers feasible and interesting.
I asked for a musician. Much of my poetry involves the translation of bodily elements like pain and illness, and I was particularly interested in seeing some of those concepts translated into yet another form. I also wanted to work with a stranger, so I asked for a local musician they could recommend. They paired me with an artist called Forest Muran, a student of world religions who writes for concert settings and composes electronic music. Over several months we had a few video meetings where we discussed ideas. Initially, our vision was a bit narrow, largely because of my focus on the pain poems. That had been our opening conversation and we remained fixed on the subject, on that approach. Forest had superb ideas on how to engage with it, and we had a number of stimulating conversations, but we still struggled to bring all of it together cohesively, to allow for a level of variety that would make it more ambitious collaboratively. Unforeseen circumstances (my father’s surgery, the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic) delayed the reading a few times. So we had more time. And then we had even more time. So we continued to experiment with concepts, with approaches.
Our breakthrough came during one meeting when we expanded our scope, started discussing some of our artistic practice and interests more broadly. Although I am an atheist, some of my work reproduces the religious language of my childhood for the purposes of ritual. As someone familiar with different religious approaches to music, Forest started experimenting. Forest then introduced me to composer Erik Satie, with his unconventional approaches to music, and to some of Satie’s work considered “vexing” or “aggravating”. Satie’s unmusical influences brought to my mind an MRI, about which I’d written. I shared the poem with Forest and made him listen to MRI sounds online, which have an uncomfortable, aggressive, and dissonant quality. With these new elements our collaboration truly began in earnest. By bringing in more of ourselves, beyond the immediate project and concerns, we overflowed with ideas, with new approaches.
Forest later called the entire experience “thought-provoking, dramatic, and even mysterious” and I have to agree. Collaborating with peers in your field is wonderful, but working with artists in other mediums is an altogether different experience. It felt extraordinary, getting to engage with another artist that way, and getting to think about my own work in a completely different medium. It might seem intimidating at first (it certainly felt that way to me), but cross-pollination in the arts can lead to such wonderful results.
So with that in mind, here is our collaborative video. It might seem a little odd, doing a post about one reading series for another reading series, but to me it goes with that collaborative, interconnected sense.
And after you watch it (if you watch it), consider maybe doing a similar project of your own. Reach out to a friend, an acquaintance in another field, and see what magic you come up with together. You won’t regret it.
Dominik Parisien visits Brockton Writers Series via ephemera series on Wednesday, January 13, 2021 starting at 6:30pm alongside Sonal Champsee, Laure Baudot, and Kirby. Our guest speaker, Cree-Métis scholar Deanna Reder, will give her talk on, “Supporting Indigenous Authors: from the archives to the Indigenous Voices Awards”.
Special note: As we adapt to current social distancing regulations, we’re happy to announce our event will be hosted by the wonderful ephemera series! They have already done their show online multiple times, so we are thrilled to benefit from their technical expertise, while also increasing collaboration within the literary community and growing connections between organizers, authors, and audience. You can attend the event by watching on the ephemera series YouTube channel. Please log in at 6:30.