How to WriteFront Cover

ISBN: 9780889226296 | paperback / softback

$16.95 | 72 pages | Pub. Date: 2010
4.25 W × 7.00 H × .15 D inches
Non-Fiction | Backlist | Bisac: LAN005000
ISBN 13: 9780889226296 | Rights: WORLD

How to Write is a perverse Coles Notes: a paradigm of prosody where writing as sampling, borrowing, cutting-and-pasting and mash-up meets literature. This collection of conceptual short ?ction takes inspiration from Lautréamont’s decree that “plagiarism is necessary. It is implied in the idea of progress. It clasps the author’s sentence tight, uses his expressions, eliminates a false idea, replaces it with the right idea.”

Already early in the twentieth century, the modernist Ezra Pound asserted that poets should “make it new,” and of course by “it” he meant “the tradition”: the materiality of pre-existent writing. The assertion is by no means original, much less post-modern: John Donne, for example, argued centuries ago that “all mankind is of one author, and is one volume.”

How to Write is an instruction manual for the demise of ownership. A multitudinous dialogue of writers and subjects, words and contexts, it unleashes a cacophony of voices where authors don’t own their words, they merely rent them from other authors. Containing ten pieces of conceptual prose ranging from the purely appropriated through the entirely recomposed, and covering a range of texts from the anonymous to the famous, it includes samplings from, among many others: Lawrence Sterne; Agatha Christie; Bob Kane; Roy Lichtenstein; and every piece of text within one block of the author’s home. Its title story is an exhaustive record of every incidence of the words “write” or “writes” in forty different English-language texts picked aesthetically to represent a disparate number of genres.

With How to Write, beaulieu suggests writers and artists would be better served to “make it reframed, make it borrowed, make it re-contextualized.” By recasting the canon with cut-up directions for successful writing, catalogues of events, and lists of vocabulary, he gleefully illustrates Picasso’s dictum that “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”

Short-listed 2010 W.O. Mitchell Literary Prize

By derek beaulieu

Author of four books of poetry and two volumes of conceptual fiction, derek beaulieu’s work is consistently praised as some of the most radical and challenging contemporary Canadian writing. beaulieu’s fractal economies (Talonbooks, 2006) includes a cogent and widely-discussed argument for poetry which works beyond conventional meaning-making, pushing the boundaries of syntax into graphic design, gesture and collaboration.

Read more about derek beaulieu


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news | 2011-04-28
Two Poetry Titles Shortlisted for W.O. Mitchell Book Prize!

…Prize! The three finalists are derek beaulieu for How to Write, Weyman Chan for Hypoderm, both from Talonbooks, …


news | 2011-03-22
Sound Pictures From The Bird is the Word at NAC

…derek beaulieu reads from his latest book How to Write) (The amazing Steve McCaffery performs Carnival …


news | 2010-09-28
How to Maverick

…derek beaulieu ‘s current book is How To Write. …


news | 2010-05-14
Talonbooks Spring Poetry Launch in Calgary

…bombastic delivery of pieces from How To Write. Both books scrutinize the fine line dividing the …


news | 2010-05-08
Talon Spring Poetry Night in Vancouver

…reading of his new multi-layered offering How to Write. Crossing blithely from poetics to comic books …


events | 2010-04-29
Talon’s 2010 Cross-Canada Poetry Tour: Vancouver

…he assigned to each month. derek beaulieu*’s How to Write contains ten pieces of conceptual prose, ranging …


events | 2010-04-27
Talon's 2010 Cross-Canada Poetry Tour: Calgary

…he assigned to each month. derek beaulieu*’s How to Write contains ten pieces of conceptual prose, ranging …


events | 2010-04-22
Talon’s 2010 Cross-Canada Poetry Tour: Edmonton Poetry Festival

…he assigned to each month. derek beaulieu*’s How to Write contains ten pieces of conceptual prose, ranging …