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Unframing the novel : from Ondaatje to Carson Rae, Ian 2002

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U N F R A M I N G THE N O V E L : F R O M O N D A A T J E TO C A R S O N by IANRAE B.A., Queen's University, Kingston, 1994 M.A., University of British Columbia, 1997 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E D E G R E E OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in  THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Department of English) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required itandard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A June 2002 © Ian Rae, 2002  In  presenting  degree  this  at the  thesis  in  University  of  partial fulfilment of British Columbia,  freely available for reference and copying  of  department publication  this or of  thesis by  this  for  his thesis  or  scholarly her  of  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  Date  DE-6  (2/88)  requirements  I agree  that the  I further agree  purposes  may  representatives.  It  for financial gain shall not  permission.  Department  study.  the  be is  an  advanced  Library shall make  that permission  for  granted  head  by  understood be  for  the that  allowed without  it  extensive of  my  copying  or  my written  ABSTRACT This dissertation argues that, since at least the 1960s, there has been a distinguished tradition of Canadian poets who have turned to the novel as a result of their dissatisfaction with the limitations of the lyric and instead have built the lyric into a mode of narrative that contrasts sharply with the descriptive conventions of plot-driven novels. Citing the affinity between the lyric sequence and the visual series, the introduction maintains that the treatment of narrative as a series of frames, as well as the self-conscious dismantling of these framing devices, is a topos in Canadian literature. The term "(un)framing" expresses this double movement. The thesis asserts that Michael Ondaatje, George Bowering, Joy Kogawa, Daphne Marlatt, and Anne Carson (un)frame their novels according to formal precedents established in their long poems. Chapter 2 illustrates the relation of the visual series to the song cycle in Ondaatje's long poems the man with seven toes (1969) and The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (1970), as well as his first novel Coming Through Slaughter (1976). Chapter 3 traces the development of the "serial novel" from Bowering's early serial poems to his trilogy, Autobiology (1972), Curious (1973) , and A Short Sad Book (1977). Chapter 4 argues that Joy Kogawa structures her novel Ohasan (1981) on the concentric narrative model established in her long poem "Dear Euclid" (1974) . Chapter 5 shows how Daphne Marlatt performs a series of variations on the quest narrative that she finds in Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen (1844), and thereby develops a lesbian quest narrative in her long poem Frames of a Story (1968), her novella Zocalo (1977), and her novel Ana Historic (1988). Chapter 6 explores the combination of lyric, essay, and interview in Carson's long poem "Mimnermos: The Brainsex Paintings" (1995) and argues that the long poem forms the basis of her novel in verse, Autobiography of Red (1998). The final chapter assesses some of the strengths and limitations of lyrical fiction and concludes that a thorough grasp of the contemporary long poem is essential to an understanding of the development of the novel in Canada.  iii  TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract  ii  Table of Contents  iii  Acknowledgements  iv  Chapter I  Introduction: A Frame of the Book  1  Chapter 2  Michael Ondaatje: (Un)framing Narrative  33  Chapter 3  George Bowering: (Un)framing the Serial Novel  83  Chapter 4  Joy Kogawa: (Un)framing Euclid  139  Chapter 5  Daphne Marlatt: (Un)framing the Quest Narrative  176  Chapter 6  Anne Carson: (Un)framing Myth  227  Chapter 7  Conclusion: (Un)framing the Book  264  Endnotes  290  Works Cited  303  iv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to express my sincerest thanks to my thesis committee, Dr. W.H. New, Dr. EvaMarie Kroller, and Dr. Kevin McNeilly for their helpful suggestions, careful editing, and the generous dispensation of their time. Their work was complemented by further suggestions from my examining committee: Dr. Keith Maillard, Dr. Carl Leggo, Dr. Margery Fee, and in particular by my external examiner, Dr. Jon Kertzer of the University of Calgary. I am also endebted to several members of the English Department at U B C for various kinds of assistance. Dr. Glenn Deer offered comments on an early draft of Chapter 4. Dr. McNeilly organized a departmental colloquium on Anne Carson in October, 2001, at which Dr. Mark Vessey presented. Dr. Richard Cavell organized a pair of readings by Carson in November, 2001. Dr. Laurie Ricou suggested books on the long poem to read. Dr. Sherrill Grace, Dr. Susanna Egan, and Sandra Norris helped me with applications and administrative matters. My doctoral studies were funded by a University of British Columbia Graduate Fellowship, a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship, a Killam Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, a L i Tze Fong Memorial Fellowship, and a i  Gilean Douglas Scholarship in English. I am very grateful to these donors, agencies, and foundations for enabling me to focus on my research and writing. I would also like to thank Anne Carson and Douglas Barbour for answering my questions via email.  1 INTRODUCTION  A Frame of the Book This introduction borrows its title from Erin Moure's collection of poems, A Frame of the Book (1999). But is this the title of Moure's collection? The cover bears the shadowy trace of a prior, overwritten title: The Frame of a Book The superimposition of A Frame of the Book in bold type over the lingering gray-gold of The Frame of a Book might suggest that the former is overtaking the latter in a proprietary struggle for title, except that The Frame of a Book takes precedence when one reads from left to right. Is Moure offering her reader a post-structuralist critique of book-making (A Frame of the Book) or a poetic sketch of a larger, unfinished work (The Frame of a Book)? Inside the cover, both titles receive their own title pages. The poet opens up several entry points into the text by exchanging the indefinite for the definite article and encouraging readers to pursue different avenues of interpretation. Instead of using the title to stabilize the interpretation of her text, she "forgejs] an upset frame of reference" (34) by juxtaposing various semantic structures. Moure's play with titles illustrates how minor semantic shifts in the framing of a text can have radical consequences for its interpretation, but her framing games do not stop at the title. The photograph on the cover of A Frame of the Book calls attention to the porous quality of boundaries as established by framing devices. The photograph depicts three identical desk drawers aligned horizontally in a field. The two outer drawers are empty, while the middle drawer contains an unbound manuscript. One manuscript page has blown out of the middle drawer and a second, stirred by the wind, is poised to escape. The photograph might represent the capacity of language to defy containment and escape into a field of free play. But it also shows how the transgression of frames energizes a work of art—whether these frames are pictorial, semantic, or thematic. Because "no meaning exists outside context" (Moure, "Learned"  2 1), Moure challenges her reader to convert fragments into patterns. Moure thus dramatizes the making and breaking of contextual frames such that the evolution of "form [becomes] another kind of'content'" (1). Sampling quotations from diverse sources and shifting abruptly between tonal registers, Moure asks: "Is it a mistake in form/ or formal dissonance/ or form" ("Grief, or Sweetness for A . " 66)? A more elaborately phrased version of this question opens Moure's sequence "The Splendour": Is it rigour or is it patchwork Riding, alone, the engine of economy A splendour (or is it) Trying to be as curious Trying to forge an upset frame of reference Pulling the window thru the door (34) In these stanzas Moure contemplates the formal strategies of minimalism (rigour), postmodernism (patchwork), and romanticism (splendour), and opts for a layered approach ("Pulling the window thru the door ') that neither wholly endorses nor rejects the possibilities 1  each tradition affords. The passage turns on the pivot of the question—"or is it"—in parentheses. This question could refer to either the previous stanza or the ensuing one, but the either/or framework it establishes presents a false choice. The title suggests that the poem retains its splendour, while the anaphoristic repetitions of "Is it" and "Trying" demonstrate that the poet forges upset syntactic frameworks across a number of scales in the poem. The other poems in Moure's collection also step in and out of genres, traditions, and languages in order to test both the inhibiting and the liberating effects of frames. Moure's poems demonstrate that the act of framing is also an act of unframing, a double movement that I express as (un)framing because the parentheses emphasize the ongoing negotiation of presence and absence performed by framing devices.  3 Although Moure's poetry is aggressively non-narrative in the sense that she refuses to adopt a continuous storyline, one of the aims of this study is to demonstrate that the same process of (un)framing can be found in varieties of the narrative long poem and novel in Canada. Indeed, the treatment of narrative as a series of frames, and the self-conscious manipulation of these frames, is a topos in Canadian literature. This study will explain how a number of 1  Canadian authors overcame the limitations of the lyric by experimenting with the long poem, while at the same time developing rhetorical strategies for creating narrative out of discrete units that they subsequently used to frame their novels.  A Frame of the Thesis It seems to be a given among certain publishers and book reviewers that, "[i]n Canada, there is a long literary tradition of poets turning into novelists" (Murray). One contemporary critic even argues that the "lyric mode predominates in Canadian fiction" (Hepburn 32). However, beyond the study of individual authors, critics have not analyzed this phenomenon. In order to illustrate the formative influence of the lyric and long poem on contemporary Canadian fiction, this thesis presents five case studies of major Canadian authors who have made the transition from poetry to the novel. Scrutinizing Michael Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter (1976), George Bowering's A Short Sad Book (1977), Joy Kogawa's Obasan (1981), Daphne Marlatt's Ana Historic (1988), and Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse (1998), I argue that the way in which the authors frame their novels derives from, and expands upon, narrative forms that they developed in their long poems—forms which, in turn, are an extension of their lyric practice. Rather than considering poet and novelist as unrelated professions, I explore various ways of approaching the novel through the lyric and long poem. For example, Kogawa's Obasan reconsiders the legacy of the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War and challenges the framing of her community as the  4  "Yellow Peril" by reconfiguring this history within an intricate series of concentric frameworks. The novel begins with a passage from the Bible which Kogawa converts into a lyrical epigram by adding line breaks. She then reverses this process in her introductory prose poem on the following page. Although the lyric frames establish a mood and a set of symbols and foster an emotional connection between the lyric "I" and the reader, it is unclear whether the "I" in the epigram and proem belongs to Kogawa or to the narrator of the history, Naomi. Much of the narrative tension in the subsequent frame tale and history in prose arises from the discrepancy between the prophetic vision of personal and social harmony in the prose poem and the quotidian experiences of racial prejudice detailed in Naomi's history. The narrator's lyrical vision acts as a tool for overcoming, symbolically, her marginal historical status as a Japanese Canadian. However, once the lyric prophecy is fulfilled at the conclusion of the frame tale, Kogawa inserts a found document (a historical memorandum outlining human rights violations committed against Japanese Canadians) to underscore the fictive quality of the narrator's lyrical resolution and the ongoing struggle for Japanese Canadian rights. Lyric and prose narrative thus enhance each other by contradiction. They engage in an ongoing process of (un)framing that breaks down the limitations of their respective genres. This dynamic is further underscored by the fact that Obasan elaborates on the fertility theme, moon symbolism, and concentric narrative structure of Kogawa's first collected long poem, "Dear Euclid" (1974). In the following chapters, I will demonstrate that the novels under study stand in a serial relation to earlier long poems. Occasionally an author will acknowledge that a long poem establishes the template for his or her novel—as is the case with Bowering's long poem George, Vancouver (1970) and his novel Burning Water (1980)—but more commonly the long poem serves as a laboratory in which authors develop narrative strategies, elaborate on personal sets of symbols, and refine themes which they later employ in their novels. Chapter 2, for example, documents how Ondaatje develops a style of narrative based on the painted series in the man  5 with seven toes (1969), and the photographic series in The Collected Works of Billy The Kid (1970), and then adapts this narrative technique to the song cycle in Coming Through Slaughter (1976). Chapter 3 examines the formative influence of Bowering's "post-lyric" poems (Concrete n.p.) on his serial novels, Autobiology (1972) and A Short Sad Book (1977). For Bowering, the "serial novel" (Short 139) is less a work published in installments than an expansion of the serial poem, a form which I will discuss at the end of this introduction. Chapter 3 will also briefly 3  discuss how Bowering parodies his serial poem George, Vancouver in Burning Water. Chapter 4 demonstrates how the holocaust theme arid moon sequences that frame "Dear Euclid" also frame Kogawa's first novel, Obasan. Chapter 5 traces the gradual development of a lesbian quest narrative in Marlatt's long poem Frames of a Story (1968), her novella Zocalo (1977), and her novel Ana Historic (1988). It focuses on Marlatt's ongoing revisions of the heterosexual quest narrative that she finds in Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale, The Snow Queen (1844). Chapter 6 examines the combination of lyric, essay, and interview in Carson's long poem "Mimnermos: The Brainsex Paintings" (1995) and scrutinizes the expanded version of this format in Autobiography of Red (1998). This chapter emphasizes how Carson manipulates mythic frameworks in order to allow the women's voices at the margins of her story to attain a place of prominence. Studying Ondaatje's pictorial frames, Bowering's parodic frames, Kogawa's concentric frames, Carson's mythic frames, and Marlatt's quest narratives in this way will make it abundantly clear that the long poems establish the formal precedents for the novels. However, the manner in which the authors move from poet to novelist varies. Ondaatje and Kogawa proceed in a roughly linear fashion from lyric to long poem to novel, whereas Bowering and Marlatt produce an early (and for them unsatisfying) realist novel before earning reputations as poets and returning to the novel with a renewed conception of it. Carson, on the other hand, combines these two approaches. She begins as a lyric poet writing primarily in sequences, composes the manuscript of a prose novel, and then, dissatisfied, completely rewrites  6 it as a novel in verse. In each case, an intensive period of work in the lyric and long poem furnishes the authors with the repertoire of rhetorical devices that they use to shape their novels. The core of my argument centres on the work of Ondaatje, Bowering, and Marlatt—three authors who have been engaged in the promotion, criticism, and production of each other's works since the late 1960s. Although they write in different manners, their names appear frequently in the acknowledgements to each other's works and they cite each other as influences. For example, in a taped conversation with Fred Wah in 1980, Marlatt explains that she admires Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter and Bowering's Burning Water because "they move in a direction in prose I want to move in" (qtd. in Wah, "Introduction" 9). Similarly, Ondaatje names Marlatt (along with Blaser, Kiyooka, Webb, and Nichol) as "one of my dearest touchstones, one of those companions of opposites that have brought me here" ("Robin" 454). This correspondence between opposites does not necessarily lead to a uniform style. For example, Marlatt makes extensive use of fairytales in her work, but Ondaatje recalls her editorial objections to one of his forays into the genre: "I reacted to Daphne Marlatt's Zdcalo and How Hug a Stone and she's helped me often with my books. [...] I remember in Running [in the Family] Daphne Marlatt saw a chapter that was a retelling of a fairy tale and she thought it was awful—so that went [was omitted]" ("1984 Interview" 326). Bowering, for his part, has done extensive critical work on both authors, including the essays "Ondaatje Learning to Do" and "Language Women: Post-anecdotal Writing in Canada," which focuses on the work of Marlatt and Nicole Brossard. At the same time, although Marlatt cites Bowering and Ondaatje as influences on her poetry, she issues an important qualification: "the dialogue with these people is as primary as the actual books are" (qtd. in Wah, "Introduction" 9). M y aim is to explore the literary manifestations of this dialogue, which veers off in many different directions. When I began this study in 1999,1 also wanted to look beyond the small group of poets collected in Ondaatje's The Long Poem Anthology (1979) and Sharon Thesen's The New Long  Poem Anthology (1991) and explore the work of two writers at opposite ends of the poet-novelist spectrum: Anne Carson and Joy Kogawa. Carson has since rocketed to fame and become, arguably, Canada's most internationally celebrated poet (Sutherland, "Takes" 2). Carson's "The Glass Essay" is now included in the expanded edition of The New Long Poem Anthology (2001) and Ondaatje states on the cover of Autobiography of Red that "Anne Carson is, for [him], the most exciting poet writing in English today" (Knopf 1999). Although endorsements on book jackets are prone to hyperbole, for the purposes of this study it is also important to note that Marlatt praises Kogawa's long poem A Song of Lilith as a "feminist Paradise Lost" on the cover of the Polestar edition (2000). A Song of Lilith has largely received mediocre reviews (Rae, "Lilith"), and Kogawa is still known primarily as a novelist, but I intend to explore the impact of Kogawa's early poetry on Obasan in order to emphasize the importance of her poetic process to the development of the novel. I have chosen to begin my discussion of the poet's novel in Canada with Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter, because it is an exemplary and influential text that draws from several currents in Canadian literature. For example, a discussion of Coming Through Slaughter necessitates a discussion of Leonard Cohen's The Favourite Game (1962), which I undertake in Chapter 2 because Ondaatje's critical monograph on Leonard Cohen (1970) sheds light on his own ambitions as a poet and novelist in the late 1960s. However, a more thorough analysis of The Favourite Game, which I do not have the space to attempt, would explore the influence on Cohen of A . M . Klein's novel The Second Scroll (1951), a work which Bowering lists among the important Canadian long poems ("1991 Statement" 351). In a discussion of framing, the critic should also keep in mind the comic strip narratives in "novels" such as Andy (1971) by bp Nichol, about whom Ondaatje produced the short film Sons of Captain Poetry (1970). At the same time, Ondaatje and the other novelists collected here are strongly international in outlook, and their novels draw from Greek and English long poems, Japanese haibun, and what Ginsberg  calls "the U.S. prosepoetry context" ("Mode" 329), which for him includes VvTiitman, Melville's Pierre, his own Howl, and much of Kerouac. To this shortlist, one must certainly add Gertrude 4  Stein, whose writing plays a vital role in the works of Bowering and Carson.  Framing Genres In choosing to work with the lyric, long poem, and novel, I have invoked three of the most established but also vaguest terms in literary criticism. For example, after surveying the critical literature on them, Margot Kaminski argues that "there is no clear definition of a long poem" (57), while Daniel Albright observes that the lyric "is so difficult to characterize that sometimes it seems as if the lyric genre consists of what is left over after all other genres are subtracted from the corpus of literature" (ix). The formal dissolution and structural innovation that critics identify as a key aspect of the lyric (Albright 45) and the long poem (Kamboureli, Edge 157) also characterizes the novel. For example, Paul Ricoeur argues that the modern novel "has, since its creation, presented itself as the protean genre par excellence. [...] Indeed, it has constituted for at least three centuries now a prodigious workshop for experiments in the domains of composition" (Time 8). M y aim here is not to wrestle these shape-shifters into submission. On the contrary, the frame-breaking capacity of these genres is what makes them so alluring. Thus, in a glowing review of Autobiography of Red, Jed Rasula, alluding to Schlegel's concept of "universal poetry," celebrates how Carson's novel in verse "recalls in its form the maverick 5  legacy of the novel as 'total poetic genre' as envisioned by the German Romantics": Historically the novel is a genre arising in the seams between other genres, accenting the fault lines within and between them; a genre born to contest other genres. Because most novels forgo this legacy, it has lately become a fetching prospect for poets. (187)  9 Recognizing that no single definition will suffice to delineate the boundaries of the lyric, long poem, and novel, I instead offer working definitions of each genre in order to provide a background against which the reader can gauge the authors' cross-genre experiments. After epic, the lyric is the oldest recorded genre in Western literature, dating back to at least the seventh century B C E in Greece. The term lyric derives from the Greek lyra, or lyre, 6  the harp-like instrument to which the original lyrics were sung in accompaniment. While the Greeks performed both the lyric and epic as song, the lyric has retained its close association with musical performance, thereby ensuring its longevity and diversity. The form has adopted and abandoned numerous metric conventions—the Greeks' dactylic hexameter, Shakespeare's iambic pentameter—and countless formal conventions—Stesichoros' triad, Petrarch's sonnet—in response to expanding notions of musicality and the particular needs of time and place. To complicate matters even further, twentieth-century free verse dispensed with all rigid conventions of metre and structure. The term "lyric" came to encompass a broad range of styles and sensibilities, including those of prose. Demonstrating that the musical force of language arises from cadence paired to thought and emotion—and not from an imposed rhyme scheme or metrical formula—W. B. Yeats added line breaks to his favourite passage in Walter Pater's The Renaissance (1873) and declared it the first modern poem in his Oxford Book of Modern Verse (1937). Kogawa's treatment of the biblical epigram in Obasan performs a similar conversion. 7  The boundary between poetry and prose is thus also one of the issues at stake in these novels. However, while Albright maintains that the "lyric is a mode, discoverable in odes and dramas and novels and possibly the telephone directory" (ix), this study will retain the distinction between lyrical passages embedded within prose narrative and isolated lyrics. Individual lyrics tend to be short, concise, and characterized by radical associative leaps and abrupt shifts in perception. Short lyrics generally stress "formal elegance and verbal felicity" by focussing on "objects in space" and "noun-and-adjective accurate description" (Atwood,  10 "Introduction" xxxiii), while at the same time isolating a particular emotion or cluster of emotions. Despite a tradition of impersonal lyrics ranging from Stesichoros to T.S. Eliot, the form largely continues to assume the classical "I-You" structure of enunciation, even in cases where speaker and audience are one and the same. This apostrophic mode, as Kamboureli points out, "establishes the priority of discourse over narrative" (Edge 188) and encourages readers to imagine themselves experiencing the moment described by the lyric voice, rather than acting as spectators at an event. Bowering, influenced by post-structuralist critiques of the unitary self, adds an extra dimension to this geometry by calling the writer writing Burning Water "He," and attempting to dissociate him from the "lyrical self (Burning n.p.) of George, Vancouver. However, even in poems where the voice of the lyric "I" is not necessarily the author's (such as in Ondaatje's The Collected Works of Billy the Kid) a "'doubleness' of voice" (Rogers 81) permeates the lyric such that the speaker's "anomalous voice functions as something like a symbol of the author's voice" (84). The lyric's propensity for symbol (a consequence of the form's brevity) encourages this duplicity and the rapid transitions between colloquial parole and more incantatory language that generally sustain the lyric's elevated tone, further compound it. Certainly Gerard Manley Hopkins had the lyric in mind when he wrote that "[p]oetry is speech framed for contemplation of the mind by the way of hearing or speech framed to be heard for its own sake and interest even over and above its interest of meaning" (Hopkins 249; see also Caws 6). Such formalized speech makes readers "aware of the illusion of music beyond the sense of the language" (Albright ix), fostering a reflective mood that makes the lyric uniquely equipped to fill the role of meta-commentator in novels such as Obasan and Ana Historic. While the lyric is brief, subjective, and musical, perhaps the distinguishing feature of the lyric is its mutability. This proposition does not imply that the lyric is the only genre in which symmetry and amorphousness are paradoxically combined. In The Birth of Tragedy, for example, Nietzsche argues that drama, which begins as tragedy, evolved from the union of "the  11 plastic, Apollonian arts and the non-visual arts of music inspired by Dionysos" (19)—that is, from Apollonian symmetry paired with Dionysian "frenzy" (8). In poetry, one can write Apollonian lyrics governed by regular metre and stanzaic structure, but the Dionysian drive towards ecstasy and change evidently holds sway as "[n]o Aristotle has ever composed a manual prescribing the parts and proper sequences of the lyric" (Albright 2). Instead, the ancient Greeks used deities to represent the lyric's ordering impulses. According to Greek legend, the lyre is invented by Hermes (The Dissembling God) and taken over by Apollo (The God of Truth). In a more contemporary reading, W. H . Auden imagines the lyric as a dynamic between Ariel (the ethereal shape-shifter) and Prospero (the earthly wiseman). Albright proposes a hybrid of the latter terms in the figure of Proteus, who combines the shape-shifting ability of Ariel with the grounded wisdom of Prospero (44). Whereas Ariel aspires to "unearthly, striking perfection," Proteus "seeks to evade every finished form in favor of perpetual change" (47). The mercurial impulse in the lyric is, in one case, the origin of the genre, while in another, it is the active agent of the poem's magic. The lyric has been known to acquire fixed shapes over time, but it none the less remains "a dissembling art" (1) which changes shape frequently and fluently. Ondaatje's "The Gate in His Head" provides a fine example of the energies active in the lyric. The poem begins as an apostrophic address to Ondaatje's poet and friend Victor Coleman. Admiring the "sense of shift" in Coleman's poetry, Ondaatje emulates his friend in the first two stanzas by juxtaposing "the tracks of thought" in lines full of shifting imagery. The imagistic fragments pile up with only the occasional comma to separate them until, in the transitional third stanza, Ondaatje turns his attention from Coleman's poetry to his own surroundings: Landscape of busted trees the melted tires in the sun Stan's fishbowl with a book inside turning its pages like some sea animal camouflaging itself  12 the typeface clarity going slow blonde in the sun full water (64) Like the broken trees and melting tires, the book in Stan Bevington's fishbowl (which also appears in Bowering's A Short Sad Book [136]) is losing its form. Open to external influences in its transparent container, the book is under erasure. The gate in the poet's head, in turn, is only useful i f it lets things in (landscape images, Coleman's words) and out (poetic images, Ondaatje's words). Thus when Ondaatje turns from the poetry of his friends to contemplate his own, he invokes a permeable frame, the net, that is one of his favourite motifs: My mind is pouring chaos in nets onto the page. A blind lover, dont know what I love till I write it out. And then from Gibson's your letter with a blurred photograph of a gull. Caught vision. The stunning white bird an unclear stir. And that is all this writing should be then. The beautiful formed things caught at the wrong moment so they are shapeless, awkward moving to the clear. (64) A chaos of images streams through these stanzas and the sudden appearance of full stops and more insistent punctuation cannot dam its flow. On the contrary, the poem contrives its own dissolution. Failing to net the flight of images in their shapeless, awkward, and protean transitions, Ondaatje's writing—like the gull and sea animal—moves to the clear white silence beyond the final period. However, the lyric has been extensively criticized by the very people who practice it. Particularly in the late 1960s and 1970s, authors condemned the lyric for its solipsism and the limited range of its elevated tone and diction. Experimental poets such as Bowering attempted to escape their lyrical selves, while feminists such as Marlatt came to reconsider the gender implications of lyric subjectivity: "Poetry, that inspired making (poieiri) with words, that  13 wellspring, that temple of the oracular, that lyric construction of the exalted I—women come to it troubled, doubled by the graven/craven images men have provided: Eve of the forked tongue, miss-represented, ma-damned" (Labyrinth 80). From Marlatt's uncapitalized " i " to Carson's personae, these artists developed means of decentring the exalted "I" and displacing its authority. In the same way that poets chafed against the limits of lyric subjectivity, they also grew dissatisfied with the restricted scope of the lyric moment. In contrast to the diachronic duration of time in narrative poetry and prose, the lyric generally restricts itself to a synchronic fragment of time, as Sharon Cameron explains in Lyric Time: Emily Dickinson and the Limits of Genre: If a poem denies the centrality of beginnings and ends, i f it fails to concern itself with the accumulated sequence of a history, it must push its way into the dimensions of the moment, pry apart its walls and reveal the discovered space there to be as complex as the long corridors of historical and narrative time. For the moment is to the lyric what sequence is to the story. (204) Thus, Ondaatje's artist-heroes knock down walls and break windows in epiphanic scenes that are written in such a lyrical manner that the sense of temporal duration is momentarily suspended. Whereas the epic simile aims to limit description and accelerate the plot by stating that something is like something else, the lyric propensity for metaphor slows the narrative down and invites meditation by stating that something is another thing which it is not. Carson, an admirer of Dickinson, corroborates this theory in her discussions of poetic error (Men 30-6) and of Greek lyric in general: "lyric [poetry] attempts to enter so deeply into history at a particular point that time stops" ("PWINTERVIEW" 57). However, Carson also stresses that the intensity of the lyric is bolstered by its peculiar relation to the temporal continuum: [A] lyric aims to capture a moment of change from one time to another, from one situation to another, so it's not that you describe any moment in the day and make it intense, you choose the moment in the day when everything changed because of some little thing or thought or mood. Homer can tell you the whole history of the fall of Troy, he has 24,000 words to do it, and there's no necessary choice of frame, of the critical moment, as there is for a lyric poet. ("PWINTERVIEW" 57)  14 Of course, Homer's epics have a narrative framework, but Carson's point is that the lyric adheres to its mandate of brevity with extreme fidelity. As "a singular experience of the moment abstracted from duration" (Lecker 61), the lyric demands a particularly economic use of description and detail. Placed in a series, however, the synchronic lyric acquires a diachronic dimension. Poets attempted early on to expand the temporal scope of the lyric by experimenting with the lyric sequence. In Post-Petrarchanism, Roland Greene argues that the traditional lyric sequence presents "the possibility of a thoroughgoing invention of character away from the straits of story, linearity, and causal logic" (80) by treating a single theme from multiple angles and over an expanse of time. This form of "lyric fiction" (3) permits character development, narrative focus, and a method of measuring time, while at the same time avoiding the causal chain of a conventional plot. Whereas the author of a plot-driven narrative cannot lavish too much attention on particular events without sacrificing momentum, the segmentation of narrative in the lyric sequence concentrates all the narrative energy on key moments in the story. Many poets also embed prose anecdotes, dialogue, and found historical documents into their lyric sequences, which swings the generic pendulum away from lyric towards epic. D.M.R. Bentley argues that English Canadian long poems generally situate themselves at the intersection between lyric and epic, as do many of their French and British counterparts. In "Colonial Colonizing" (1998), Bentley traces the commemorative mode of epic across three centuries of nation-building in Canadian long poems ranging from Henry Kelsey's "Now Reader Read . . . " (1690) to Jon Whyte's Homage, Henry Kelsey (1981) and finds that the "encyclopedic ambitions of the epic" are usually counterbalanced by the "self-ish concerns of the lyric" (9). By and large, English Canadian long poems do not establish a stable myth of origins or arrive at the fated fulfillment of a national destiny, as in the classical epic mode of Homer and Virgil. For this reason, Northrop Frye argues in his 1946 essay "The Narrative Tradition in English-Canadian  15 Poetry" that "Canadian narrative demands a tragic resolution" (155). Frye traces a narrative tradition that begins amid the "philosophical pessimism and moral nihilism" (156) of the nineteenth century and extends as far as E.J. Pratt's Brebeuf (1940) and Earle Birney's David (1942), and he surmises that the telos of Canadian narrative is not a triumphal one. However, at the conclusion of his essay, Frye sees "Canadian poetry hesitat[ing] on the threshold of a new era" (157) in which the traditional storytelling modes of the long poem will adapt to the radio and thus, McLuhan would add, take advantage of the non-linear possibilities afforded by electronic media. Dorothy Livesay elaborates on Frye's ideas in her influential essay, "The Documentary Poem: A Canadian Genre" (1969). Livesay asserts that "our most significant body of poetry exists in the longer poem" (268) and she thereby echoes Frye's endorsement of the long poem: In looking over the best poems of our best poets, while of course the great majority are lyrical, we are surprised to find how often the narrative poem has been attempted, and attempted with uneven but frequently remarkable success. [...] We tend to form our canons of criticism on carefully polished poetry, but such standards do not always apply to the narrative, for the test of the great narrative is its ability to give the flat prose statement a poetic value. (Frye 151-2) In contrast to Frye, however, Livesay contends that Canadians "have built up a body of literature in a genre which is valid as lyrical expression but whose impact is topical-historical, theoretical and moral" (281) and she argues for "a new genre, neither epic nor narrative, but documentary" in its "conscious attempt to create a dialectic between the objective facts and the subjective feelings of the poet" (267). Citing works such as Bowering's Rocky Mountain Foot (1968), Livesay demonstrates that the pioneering documentary work of the National Film Board (originally an extension of the government's propaganda unit) corresponds to a tradition of the long poem which is didactic and factual as well as subjective and lyrical. This argument is less persuasive in its assertion that the documentary poem is a distinctly Canadian genre, than in its  16 more minute demonstration of the resistance to continuous sequence in the narrative poems that Frye admires: M y premise is indeed that the Canadian longer poem is not truly a narrative at all—and certainly not a historical epic. It is, rather, a documentary poem, based on topical data but held together by descriptive, lyrical, and didactic elements. Our narratives, in other words, are not told for the tale's sake or for the myth's sake: the story is a frame on which to hang a theme. (269) Livesay makes important observations on the lyric frames within the narrative poem, but the didacticism of her themes has drawn the ire of numerous critics. For instance, Roy M i k i takes issue with the "humanist binary—'subject' versus 'object'— [that] constitutes the discursive center of Livesay's often-cited description of the Canadian documentary poem" (Broken 267). A leading figure in the Japanese Canadian Redress Movement, Miki particularly objects to the moral of Livesay's best known documentary poem, "Call M y People Home" (1950), which uses exemplary figures such as "The Fisherman" and "The Wife" to dramatize the displacement of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War: In "Call My People Home" the narrative frame becomes a representational device that enables the translation of Japanese Canadian experience ("the objective facts") into a public discourse ("subjective feelings of the poet"), in this instance, a radio drama which displaces the specificity of internment through "thematic" abstraction. [...] The thematic message conveyed to its non-Japanese Canadian readers (and listeners, since it was aired on the radio) is that internment and forced dispersal, despite the hardships, has "allowed" Japanese Canadians to assimilate. (102-3) Kogawa's Obasan represents the first major literary overhaul of this assimilationist history, but her lyric sequence "Road Building by Pick A x " (1985) also parallels Livesay's concern for the documentation of labour history and social injustice. The narrative potential of the discontinuous sequence is examined in greater detail in Robert Kroetsch's "For Play and Entrance: The Contemporary Canadian Long Poem" (1989). Seeking to defy what he sees as the "ferocious principles of closure" (118) in the modern lyric, Kroetsch endorses a narrative mode based on interruption and delay that he simply calls "the  17 contemporary long poem" (117). As the rare novelist-turned-poet, Kroetsch rejects the isolated lyric and favours the long poem because it offers a more expansive mode of expression. The long poem can combine lyrics with found documents, dramatic monologues, prose fragments, epic catalogues, nonsense poetry, visual media, and any number of disparate genres. While the metaphors of sexualized violence that guide Kroetsch's essay seem to ground the latter in the ethos of the epic, the concern of "Mr Canadian Postmodern" (Hutcheon, Canadian 160) for counter-imperial discourse, revisionary history, and interrupted teleology belongs more properly to the anti-epic, as he explains: "Homer wrote poems without stanzas. We threaten to write stanzas (fragments, pieces, journals, 'takes,' cantos even) that cannot become the poem" (126). Yet the further Kroetsch pursues the fragmentary quality of the anti-epic, the closer he comes to advocating a modified lyric sequence. Two major works of genre criticism propose alternatives to the epic, lyric, and documentary genres: The Modern Poetic Sequence (1983) by M . L . Rosenthal and Sally M . Gall and On the Edge of Genre (1991) by Smaro Kamboureli. Rosenthal and Gall argue that the long poem is an outgrowth of the lyric: The modern sequence, then, is a grouping of mainly lyric poems and passages, rarely uniform in pattern, which tend to interact as an organic whole. It usually includes narrative and dramatic elements, and ratiocinative ones as well, but its structure is finally lyrical. Intimate, fragmented, self-analytical, open, emotionally volatile, the sequence meets the needs of modern sensibility even when the poet aspires to tragic or epic scope. (9) Kamboureli cites this passage in On the Edge of Genre and criticizes its "modern sensibility" by arguing that "the long poem is definitely not a simple extension or expansion of the lyric.  [...]  Rather, it is a lyric fracturing its 'wholeness,' parodying its own lyrical impulse" (64). From this point on in her exploration of "The Lyric Mode," Kamboureli adopts Rosenthal and Gall's definition of the lyrical impulse as a desire for "wholeness," directly contradicting Albright's definition of the lyric as "a poem in which one notices a certain shiftiness or instability, a certain  18 slipping and sliding of things, a certain tendency to equate a thing with its antiself, a certain evasiveness of being" (viii). Like Kroetsch, to whom her conception of the long poem owes much, Kamboureli defines "lyrical structure" as "a closed world, a strait-jacket" (75). Yet this definition contradicts Roland Greene's insistence that the lyric "always condones aporia and deferrals of meaning" (13). Operating from an Apollonian definition of the lyric, Kamboureli cannot accept Joseph Riddel's argument that the "theory of the lyric, rather than being antithetical to any notion of the long poem, indeed is the only theory of the long poem" (Riddel 466). Whereas Kamboureli sees the long poem as the undoing of lyric form, Riddel maintains that the lyric "undoes its own frame, or repeats the 'force' of framing with its own metaphorical violence—a play of displacements which the modern 'long poem' only makes explicit" (467). Kamboureli complains that Riddel's conception of the lyric "extends the lyric beyond strict generic specifications" (72), but she herself argues that critics "might even go so far as to consider the contemporary long poem as a mutant form bearing only traces of the genres it derives from, a potentially new species or at least a species engendered by generic shifts" (49). Elsewhere, Kamboureli argues that this kind of "wavering" in genre criticism is "indefensible" (67), but it is impossible to set strict generic limits on either the lyric or the long poem precisely because the disruption of formal limits is an integral part of their aesthetic. Thus, it seems logical to pursue the evolution of the lyric into the long poem and ask if this "mutant form" can transform into a novel, because I have already endorsed Ricoeur's statement that the novel is "the protean genre par excellence" (Time 8). In the following chapters, I include a number of interview statements by the novelists in order to emphasize that they consciously built the lyric into a narrative mode in this manner. According to M . H . Abrams, the "term 'novel' is now applied to a great variety of writings that have in common only the attribute of being extended works of fiction written in prose" (117), although the genre may also incorporate sections of poetry, drama, or historical writing.  19 Etymologically, the novel means a "piece of news" (Cuddon 430), and the genre also retains strong ties to the descriptive traditions of storytelling and reportage. In place of the evocative glimpse afforded by the lyric, and the symbolic anecdote presented by the long poem, the novel chooses to accumulate events, meditations, and characterizations. Where the lyricist reduces, the novelist accretes; where the longliner sketches, the romancer embellishes. The novel's formal antecedents can be traced to narrative verse, particularly the romance, which gave its name to the roman. Thus it is significant that in their reconsideration of the novel, Marlatt and Carson return to the verse origins of narrative to tell their love stories. Marlatt's narrator declares that Ana Historic "is not a roman / ce" (67) and challenges the heteronormative conventions of the romantic plot, while Carson's novel in verse extrapolates from a long lyric poem by the Greek poet Stesichoros, "[m]ost Homeric of the lyric poets" (4). Elsewhere, Carson points out that the "terms 'novel' and 'romance' do not reflect an ancient name for the genre. Chariton refers to his work as erotikapathemata, or 'erotic sufferings': these are love stories in which it is genetically required that love be painful. The stories are told in prose and their apparent aim is to entertain readers" (Eros 78). Carson toys with these narrative conventions in Autobiography of Red by relating her protagonist's "erotic sufferings" in a sequence of 47 narrative lyrics (one "book" short of epic). For both authors, lyric structure provides the tools for reconfiguring the conventional romance. Thus, while the lyric and the novel conventionally occupy opposite ends of the generic spectrum, they are not incompatible. In The Lyrical Novel (1963), for example, Ralph Freedman investigates Herman Hesse's formulation of "[njarrative as a disguised lyric, [and] the novel as a borrowed label for the experimentations of poetic spirits to express their feeling of self and world" (Freedman's trans. 42). Freedman elucidates a "lyrical" technique of submersing "narrative in imagery and portraiture" (vii) in Gide's Les Faux-Monnayeurs (1925), Woolf s The  20  Waves (1931), and Hesse's Steppenwolf (1963). "Lyrical novels," Freedman argues, are not wholly governed by linear narrative—what he defines as "the surge towards that which does not yet exist" (7-8). Instead, they exploit the "expectation of narrative by turning it into its opposite: a lyrical process" (7). Lyrical process continues to be a key concern for contemporary authors and Bowering even turns the debate about process into an entire subplot in Burning Water. However, Freedman's modernist interpretation of this process does not suit the postmodern novels in this study. Unlike Freedman, I do not believe that the lyric(al) intends to bound the novel's energy within the poet's design, such that the "world is reduced to a lyrical point of view, the equivalent of the poet's T: the lyrical self (8). On the contrary, the self designing the poet's novel is often double: Bowering masquerades as "He" (among other noms de plume) in order to escape his lyrical self; Kogawa and Marlatt stage their own fictional rebirths; and Ondaatje and Carson blur the boundary between autobiography and biography. This doubleness creates an interplay of identities that mirrors the juxtaposition of lyric and narrative. There is dissonance in this juxtaposition, but there is also crossover. The intersubjective frameworks facilitate, rather than restrict, shifts within the text. Lyrics in novels generally stand in isolation, acting as lenses that magnify certain aspects of a larger story (epigrams and codas) or as wedges driven between blocks of prose (embedded song cycles). However, Hesse's notion of the novel as a disguised lyric raises the question of how the lyric, which is seemingly absent, or at least set apart in the novel, can influence its prose without reducing the story to the point of view of the lyric "I." For example, Ana Historic is a conventional Kunstlerroman in that it documents the growth of an artist up until the point at which she has achieved sufficient facility in her craft to write her story. However, the doubling of author (Marlatt) and metafictive author (Annie) in the text complicates the definition of this craft. According to one reading, the self-reflexive sections of Ana Historic relate the experience of a poet (Marlatt) composing her first novel. According to another, the novel documents the  21 birth of a poet (Annie). The novel concludes with a prose poem that is unmistakably a lyric, but which is also an outgrowth of the lyrical prose paragraphs that precede it. To complicate matters further, the way in which the prose poem is framed on the page connects it to a series of selfreflexive epigrams which precede the different sections of the novel. At first, these epigrams seem to be the fragmentary musings of an author as she contemplates the title character (43) and feminist theory (75). Yet these epigrams become increasingly lyrical as the novel progresses (129), and they continually remind the reader that "a book of interruptions is not a novel" (37). The epigrams combine to form a song cycle within the text, but in the coda this song cycle becomes the apotheosis of the story. The lyric voice that has narrated Annie's story takes off its prose disguise and reveals its lyrical self in the coda, even as Annie ceases to pretend she is heterosexual and abandons her homophobic fear. Annie seems to be referring to Zoe when she says, "we give place, giving words, giving birth, to each other—she and me" (n.p.). However, the ambiguity of the pronouns in the coda also permits a reading in which Marlatt the novelist gives birth to Annie the poet, and vice versa. Thus, the juxtaposition of identities and genres in the coda keeps the ending open and unstable. In contrast, Mary Ann Caws demonstrates in Reading Frames in Modern Fiction (1985) that framing devices within prose narrative focalize the perception of a story. Caws maintains that any discussion of literary portraiture implicitly invokes what Roland Barthes calls "The Model of Painting"—that is, "[e]very literary description is a view" (S/Z 61) which frames and makes an object of its subject. Although Caws acknowledges that "allframesare constantly open to shift and exchange" (5; her emphasis), she underscores the intensifying power that framing devices have. She argues that in the modern novel there are usually key scenes or passages that make use of an elaborate system of framing devices—"architectural surrounds," "drastic contrasts," temporal delays in the flow of the narrative—such that they stand out from the main body of the text (262). While Caws restricts her investigation to novels by Henry  22 James, Virginia Woolf, and other modernists—"postmodernism," she says, "would lie beyond the borders of this study, focused on the frame itself (11)—these observations also pertain to the postmodern novel, which tests the "limits of language, of subjectivity, of sexual identity, and we might also add: of systematization" (Hutcheon, Poetics 8). The fragmented structures employed by poet-novelists such as Ondaatje and Marlatt also test the limits of genre, as the authors write paragraphs that resemble stanzas and sustain a lyric intensity that it is more commonly associated with poetry. Moreover, they tend to equate poetry with visual media such as photography and painting, such that the "model of painting" in their prose is largely the model they developed in their poetry. Jacques Derrida's much-quoted essay on "The Parergon" in The Truth in Painting (1987) offers further insights into the way in which framing procedures in the visual arts pertain to literary and philosophical issues. Derrida argues that what at first appears to be extrinsic (wooden frame, epigram, prior publication) to the artwork (canvas, history, portrait) in fact plays an intrinsic role in mediating the borders of that artwork. Although Derrida is principally concerned with challenging the logic of Kant's Critique of Aesthetic Judgement, his reflections are useful for assessing the relation of epigrams to the novel (as I will demonstrate in the chapter on Carson), as well as for evaluating the role of artworks alluded to or included in the novels. For example, in his introduction to The Rhetoric of the Frame, a collection of essays that explores a broad range of discourses (from painting to cartography to pornography), Paul Duro succinctly paraphrases Derrida's ideas about the parergon: "the frame serves to create a space for the artwork that the work itself is incapable of furnishing" (1). Feminist art critics such as Amelia Jones have expanded the scope of this theory of the supplement by arguing that "the disciplinary logic of framing and its corollary suppression of interpretive desire are informed by specifically sexual investments" (224). Like Marlatt, Jones links representations of women in art to broader systems of control over women's bodies and desires. Diane Neumaier affirms this  23 interpretation in her introduction to Reframings: New American Feminist Photographies (1995), where she states that the artists included "share a consciousness that historically, women have been 'framed' through the process of representation and can be 'refrained' through the same process" (1). For these women photographers, as for the many photographers and archival researchers in the ensuing novels, issues of framing in the visual arts parallel a much larger debate about systems of containment in literature and society. The way that limits are negotiated in the five novels exhibits many features of what Linda Hutcheon calls "historiographic metafiction," in which the "theoretical self-awareness of history and fiction as human constructs" creates the grounds for the "reworking of the forms and contents of the past" (Poetics 5). According to Hutcheon, this kind of postmodern fiction "always works within conventions in order to subvert them" through parody (5). Thus Marlatt states that she "often feel[s]—not complicit perhaps, so much as duplicit or double. [...] [M]y subversion takes the form of re-vising from the inside" (Labyrinth 66). This method of revising the historical record also informs the construction of Kogawa's silenced history, Ondaatje's "subhistory" (Slaughter 18), Bowering's historical burlesque, and Carson's testimonia. The making and breaking of frames takes on a political importance in this analysis because the principal characters in each of the novels are, in one fashion or another, framed as marginal. Marginality, of course, depends on where one constructs the margin and situates the self. Kogawa initially posits herself as marginal to white Western Canadians in order to demonstrate the way in which Japanese Canadians were framed as the "Yellow Peril." On the other hand, Bowering—as a white male from British Columbia—constructs himself as marginal to the Eastern Canadian literary establishment, British imperialism, and, later, American imperialism. Marlatt, in turn, combats the marginalizing of her lesbian sexuality by patriarchal values, yet struggles with the influence of her colonial upbringing in Malaysia on her mother tongue. Thus, Sneja Gunew argues that the framing of marginality in works of literature is a  24 highly dynamic process, because marginality is a condition which is both imposed and strategically invoked: Being marginalised cannot be reduced simply to a struggle between oppressor and oppressed in which the latter remains utterly passive. In their spatially conceived representation of exclusionary gestures, margins have always been ambiguous signs which have served to frame the centre in terms of indictment as well as approbation. (Gunew27) Historiographic metafictions augment this ambiguity by calling attention to the role of the author and reader in framing narrative. For example, Ondaatje's fascination with outlaw figures such as Billy the Kid and Bracefell stems from the fact that these men are heroes or villains depending on who is writing or reading their histories. Likewise, in Autobiography of Red, Carson revives the slain figure of Geryon from the tenth labour of Herakles and rewrites the encounter of hero and victim as a gay love affair in which Geryon gets a second chance to defy his mythically ordained defeat. A l l five authors reconfigure myths and histories to create new interpretative frameworks in which marginal figures may better articulate their stories. However, the authors also show their hand in the framing process, so as to demonstrate the manner in which their own parodies may be dismantled.  Framing the Series I have undertaken this discussion of the lyric, long poem, and novel to provide some context for the genre questions that inevitably arise in reading books by Ondaatje, Bowering, Kogawa, Marlatt, and Carson. However, the protean elements of these authors' works resist classification and remain highly enigmatic. For example, Carson's Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse is sold in the fiction section of my campus bookstore at the University of British Columbia. Bizarrely, however, Carson's Glass, Irony and God, a collection of essays and long poems, is also sold in the fiction section. On the other hand, Carson's Plainwater: Essays and Poetry is sold in the essays and letters section, although it includes the prose-poem novella "The  25 Anthropology of Water," a section of which was included in The Journey Prize Anthology for fiction (Glover). Ondaatje's The Collected Work of Billy the Kid also floats between the fiction and poetry shelves. His editors, for their part, classify the book under poetry in the 1988 Penguin edition of In the Skin of a Lion and under prose in the 1998 Vintage edition of Coming Through Slaughter. Ondaatje himself cites In the Skin of a Lion as his first novel and defines Coming Through Slaughter negatively as "not a novel" ("1975 Interview" 26), Running in the Family as a fictional memoir, and Billy the Kid as the verbal equivalent of "the film I couldn't afford to shoot" (20). Ondaatje evidently cherishes this ambiguity, and I wish to augment, rather than dispute it. Ondaatje's mention of film highlights the fact that, in addition to blurring literary genres, these authors also experiment with different artistic media. As Ondaatje maintains in the introduction to The Long Poem Anthology, it is important for literary critics to take into consideration that Bowering served as an aerial photographer in the Canadian military. Because the arrested moment in a lyric resembles a photograph, while the long poem's disjointed sequence resembles a series of stills, and the novel's more comprehensive sequence recalls a film, it is important to remember that Ondaatje is a filmmaker, that Carson is a painter, and that all five authors have composed works that intermingle poetry and pictorial art. One could think of the evolution of lyric to long poem to novel in terms of the evolution of photography into serial photography and thence into film, except that in works such as Billy this evolution takes place within a single book. These connections between the visual series and literature necessitate a discussion of the serial poem, a type of long poem that plays a crucial role in the writing of Ondaatje, Bowering, and Marlatt. The serial poem owes a large part of its popularity in Canada to the presence in Vancouver of Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, and Robin B laser, the three central figures of the so-called "Berkeley Renaissance" (Ellingham and Killian xviii). Duncan  26 lectured at the University of British Columbia in 1963 and 1965 and became a mentor to Vancouver's Tish poets. Spicer also lectured at the Vancouver Poetry Festival in 1965. He was "offered a position at Simon Fraser University and would have begun teaching there in the fall of 1965" (Foster 13) had he not died that summer. Blaser, for his part, accepted a teaching position at Simon Fraser University in 1966 and has lived in Vancouver ever since. Together, these poets developed a unique variation on the lyric sequence: The serial poem as developed by Duncan, Blaser, and Spicer (who named it) is not simply a series of short works linked thematically and formally as in a sonnet sequence, nor is it what M . L . Rosenthal calls "the modern poetic sequence" in his book of that name, for that sequence is always, at least in part, lyrical, while the serial poem, at least in Spicer's case, arises outside the self and is "dictated." The serial poem may utilize any number of forms, but there is no need to keep a consistent pattern. (Foster 11) Although Duncan would depart from the group and become involved with the Black Mountain poets, Edward Halsey Foster argues that "Spicer's aesthetic, particularly in terms of the 'serial poem' and 'poetry as dictation,' was largely what he had learned from Duncan" (Foster 31). Spicer and Blaser took as their models "Rilke's Duino Elegies, Sonnets to Orpheus and Duncan's Medieval Scenes" (Blaser, "1979 Statement" 323). Rilke's lyricism, in turn, profoundly g  influences Ondaatje's Tin Roof (1982) and Bowering's Kerrisdale Elegies (1984). However, it is the anti-lyric values that Spicer and Blaser used to modify the lyric sequence that are of interest here. Although the density, brevity, and musical quality of Spicer's poems would mark them as lyrics, Spicer objected to the lyric "I" and wished to create "a poetry that would be more than the expression of [his] hatreds and desires" (Lorca n.p.). He therefore renounced the lyric ego, or what he called "the big lie of the personal" (Lorca n.p.), in favour of a more decentred subjectivity. In After Lorca (1957), for example, Spicer shrouds his lyric voice by writing a series of "translations" of Lorca. Spicer frames the serial poem with an introductory letter from Lorca in which the dead Spaniard warns that Spicer has chosen English words that alter his  27 poems' meanings, or inserted new stanzas without warning into the translations, or titled "translation" poems that are entirely Spicer's own. Spicer accounts for this conceit in his penultimate letter to Lorca by stating that he thinks his own personality will shine through "the lovely pattern of cracks in some poem where autobiography shattered but did not quite destroy the surface" (Lorca n.p.). Although After Lorca is an early Spicer poem and not typical of his later, more depersonalized poetic practice, it exhibits the kind of parodic playfulness that one finds in Carson's translations of Stesichoros in Autobiography of Red, as well as in Ondaatje's portrait of Billy the Kid—a response to Spicer's serial poem of the same name. A l l these works demonstrate that a common function of framing devices is to make the implicit doubleness of voice in the author/speaker of the lyric explicit. Thus the suppressed lyric "I" of the poet frequently resurfaces in a different guise, and, more often that not, is emboldened by association with artistic geniuses such as Lorca, Stesichoros, and Bolden. Spicer and Blaser also object to the synchronic quality of the lyric's arrested moment. Spicer argues that a "poet is a time mechanic not an embalmer" and insists that "words must be led across time not preserved against it" (Lorca n.p.). In the same vein, Blaser maintains that "the beauty of the idea that you can write a single poem [...] is a lie. The processional aspect of the world has to be caught in the language also" ("Fire" 236). For both authors, the individual poem is a unit within a book and the book is a unit within an intimate circle of poets. For most of his career, Spicer "did not want his work published or even distributed outside San Francisco" (Foster 46), because he believed that "poems do not exist in isolation," but rather in "a community of readers and other poems" (23). By pooling the energies of the poems and poets, Spicer and Blaser believe that they create a living poetic continuum, as Blaser explains: I'm interested in a particular kind of narrative—what Jack Spicer and I agreed to call in our work the serial poem—this is a narrative which refuses to adopt an imposed story line, and completes itself only in the sequence of poems, if, in fact, a reader insists upon a definition of completion which is separate from the activity of the poems themselves. The poems tend to act as a sequence of energies which  run out when so much of a tale is told. I like to describe this in Ovidian terms, as a carmen perpetuum, a continuous song in which the fragmented subject matter is only apparently disconnected. ("Fire" 237-8) The poets are thus singers in a song cycle that rejects the stamp of an individual ego. Barbour therefore places the serial poem "in the category of anti-lyric" because serial poems "deliberately flout high lyric conventions yet have their own, wild or atonal, music" (Lyric 7). However the term anti-lyric, like Bowering's term post-lyric, incorporates the lyric values it contests. Musical metaphors play an important role in the theorization of the serial poem, as Barbour's comments demonstrate. Curiously, Blaser states that the "term serial was not adapted from serial music" ("1979 Statement" 323), although Spicer coined the term "with reference to both the serial music of Berio and Boulez and to the radio and movie serials that had entertained him as a teenager in Hollywood" (Ellingham and Killian x). Blaser is perhaps uncomfortable with this cross-genre comparison because only Spicer's Fifteen False Propositions Against God (1958) could be said to mimic serial music in any strict fashion. However, the atonalities and recursive phrasing in Spicer's work do make the comparison to serial music instructive: Serialism [in music] is based on the principle of the twelve-tone method. A n order of succession is established for rhythmic values for levels of loudness, for example, as well as for pitches. A l l of these so-called rows are then repeated during the course of the work. The technique is sometimes called total serialism to distinguish it from the limited serialism involved in the twelve-tone method. The serial composers have included Olivier Messiaen and his pupil Pierre Boulez, both French; Karlheinz Stockhausen, a German; Ernst Krenek, an Austrian; and Milton Babbitt, an American. ("Serial"; see also Vander Weg 1-11) Indeed, Blaser's own explanatory metaphors are drawn from music. Blaser argues that in Spicer's work there is "a special analogy with serial music: the voice or tongue, the tone, of the poem sounds individually, as alone and small as the poet is [...] but sounded in series, it enters a field" ("Outside" 278). Again, discussing his own influential sequence The Moth Poem (1962), Blaser states that the poem, which begins with the image of a moth caught in the strings of a piano, records the "wavering interruption of the music of the spheres" ("1991 Statement" 349). Blaser  29 considers this poem to be a "serial and continuing" sequence whose open form enables him to expand it indefinitely. Thus the final lyric in the 1991 version, "The Translator," is a late addition. In Canada, the serial poem prevails most of all in the West, but the form has gained national prominence in part through the editorial efforts of Bowering and Ondaatje. In 1964, Bowering established the journal Imago, which he intended "for the long poem, the series or set, the sequence, swathes from giant work in progress, long life pains eased into print" (Imago 1 2). Bowering published a large number of his own and other authors' serial poems before he abandoned Imago in 1974. Five years later, Ondaatje edited The Long Poem Anthology with the aim of mapping "important new directions in Canadian poetry and in the long or 'serial' poem" (back cover). In his introduction, Ondaatje echoes Frye and Livesay in his commendation of the long poem in Canada: "it seems to me that the most interesting writing being done by poets today can be found within the structure of the long poem" (11). However, Ondaatje also acknowledges the importance of American influences. He devotes an entire section of the introduction to a long quotation from Blaser's essay on Spicer, "The Practice of Outside" (1975), and the anthology includes a serial poem by Blaser, as does its successor, The New Long Poem Anthology (1991). When one compares the serial poems of Blaser and Spicer to those of Bowering and Marlatt (who appear in both anthologies), however, one notices some significant differences. For example, Marlatt is suspicious of the exalted "I" in the lyric tradition, but she is not willing to abandon lyric subjectivity altogether, as she states in a 1970 journal entry: "no Martian (Spicer) writing the poem, tho it is in some sense other (not-me), but energy of the whole stream—sensual in the way as anything alive picks up sensation, reading it—the larger wave we live in" (What 155). Instead of taking dictation from "outside" voices, she is determined to cultivate her own embodied voice and make it interact with other voices which have been  30 excluded from the canonical "inside," such as the voices of the Japanese Canadian fishing community in Steveston (1974). Bowering, for his part, rejects the "continuing" aspect of the serial poem and establishes strict compositional limits for his poems in advance. For example, Bowering limited the composition time for each of the 26 sections in Allophanes (1976) to the duration of a single lecture by Blaser, such that the temporal framework is one of the limits that the poet works within and against. Bowering's practice of explicitly incorporating the frame into the composition of an artwork is particularly relevant when one considers that Marlatt wrote Steveston as a collaboration with the photographer Robert Minden: The serial poem—from those guys in San Francisco—is an openended form. It's openended, that is to say, each of the pieces is discrete but it's a series that will decide when it's going to stop and where it's going to go—it could go anywhere. Whereas my sense of the serial is a lot like [Victor] Coleman's sense of serial— and a lot like painters' sense of the serial. Painters say, OK, I'm going to work on this shape, say Roy Kiyooka's Ovals, or I'm going to work in terms of this theme—"Lovers in a Landscape" by Claude Breeze. That's what I have. (Bowering, "1976 Interview" 93) The example of Kiyooka (1926-1994) here is illustrative because Bowering considers Kiyooka to be "the first Vancouver postmodern poet, partly because he is also deservedly celebrated as a painter, sculptor, and photographer" ("Vancouver" 135). Ondaatje also cites Kiyooka as his ideal of a multimedia artist ("1971 Interview" 12), and readers at the "celebration" that began the Roy Kiyooka Conference in Vancouver (Oct. 1-2, 1999) included Ondaatje, Marlatt, Bowering, and Kogawa. Like Spicer, Kiyooka published most of his poetry books in small editions that he 9  distributed among an influential group of friends, but his connection to Marlatt here is important because she began writing Ana Historic after ending an eight-year relationship with him. Because Kiyooka established his reputation as a "hard-edged" painter with a modernist aesthetic in the 1950s and gradually developed a postmodern aesthetic in "photoglyphic narrative[s]" (Kiyooka, "Pacific" n.p.) that juxtaposed photography and poetry, one should also remember that Carson's first book of poetry, Short Talks (1992), was originally "a book of drawings with  31 writing as captions—and the captions proved to be more interesting to other people than the drawings. So in frustration [Carson] put the drawings in the drawer and published the writing" (Carson, "Woman" 29). Although these two artists have radically different lyric voices, they share a talent for blurring the boundary between the visual and written arts. However, dDespite Kiyooka's use of diverse media, there is at least one formal continuity that runs throughout his work, as he explains: I've always been a serial artist. M y books are always whole entities. They're not made up of discrete things. That's how I photograph too. I can hardly claim to be the kind of photographer for whom each photographed moment is an exemplary moment, and you frame it, and say, this is like a beautiful poem. No, I'm not that kind of photographer. I need a number of images to articulate what it's about, so I tend to work in sequences. That's so deeply a part of my practice that I don't even think of it. I painted that way too. ("Inter-Face" 52-3) In fact, Kiyooka simply refers to his poems and photographs as "frames," with minimal distinction between media. For example, preparing a collaborative exhibition based on his serial poem The Fontainebleau Dream Machine: 18 Frames from a Book of Rhetoric, Kiyooka writes in a letter to artist Lora Senechal Carney about "his long-time double engagement with pictures and words" and his desire to perform "variations on callit the possibilities of a post-modern sonnet" (qtd. in Carney 30). The Fontainebleau Dream Machine (which appears in The Long Poem Anthology) pairs poems with collages as well as captions which parody the convention of poem and illustration. Thus "the 1st Frame shows" (110) but "the 3rd Frame (hides)" (112), "the 15th Frame pre-figures" (124) and "the 18th Frame" (127) offers no explanation at all. Like the hot air balloon that recurs as a motif in each collage, the poem moves with the drift of its lofty language and surreal associations. Instead of progressing in a straightforward fashion from A to B , the poem offers new and unusual perspectives on a motif as it traces its circuitous path. In this sense, the balloon is similar to the moth in Blaser's poem. It is "the gift or the dictated"—that is, the found object that becomes the "one dominant musical note or image"  32 (Blaser, "1979 Statement" 323) on which the artist performs variations. However, operating from a painterly sense of the serial, Kiyooka is more self-conscious about critiquing his own framing practices. His poems and collages emphasize their extravagant mode of composition, as Christian Bok observes: Kiyooka performs a surrealist exercise that explores the parataxis of the unconscious through an associative logic of jumpcuts and dissolves. The technological images of both the cinema and the balloon intersect in the semiological genre of a comic-strip, whose bubbles of thought drift through a pageant of frames. (24) These frames appear in different configurations in The Long Poem Anthology and Kiyooka's collected poems, Pacific Windows, which emphasizes Kiyooka's playful approach to art. As Eva-Marie Kroller observes, The Fontainebleau Dream Machine "attempts no less than a wideranging, dialectical, and often humorous critique of history in general, and art in particular, as a grand scheme of self-delusion" ("Roy" 47). Both sublime artwork and encyclopedic prank, Kiyooka's serial poem (un)frames its own technique in order to further the sense of shift in the serial narrative. Keeping all these influences in mind, from the variatio of the lyric sequence to the recursive phrasing of Spicer's serial poems, from the collage of genres in Kamboureli's long poem to the overlay of words and images in Kiyooka's photoglyphic texts, let us proceed to the novels themselves and examine how Ondaatje, Bowering, Kogawa, Marlatt, and Carson draw from their long poems in order to pattern their novels. By studying the recursive symmetries in Ondaatje's imagery, Bowering's circumlocutions, Kogawa's concentric narratives, Marlatt's quest narratives, and Carson's academic apparatuses, I will demonstrate that these authors create lyrical fiction as an extension of their established poetic practice.  33  CHAPTER 2 Michael Ondaatje: (Un)framing Narrative  Solecki: "[DJoyou ever look back to the various media interviews you've done and think of subjects you would like to have had discussed? Ondaatje: Very few people want to talk about architecture. Solecki: Architecture? Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe and that sort of thing? Ondaatje: No, just in poems and novels. There has been a great change in what "structure" is in a poem or in a novel. Or "design." Or the "context" of a novel. (Ondaatje, "1984 Interview" 322) In this interview with Sam Solecki, Ondaatje does not clarify what he means by the "great change" in the structure of poems and novels. Although Solecki observes that Ondaatje's "longer works have resisted easy categorization" (324), and other critics refer to his "Booker-winning novel-poems" (Pyper, "Morgue"), it remains unclear what Ondaatje considers the relation of poetry to the novel to be. In the interview, Ondaatje refuses to slot his novels into one category and asserts that " i f you're writing a novel then you're writing against what you know the novel is" (325).  10  However, he does state that he thinks of architecture "in terms of repeating and  building images and so making them more potent" (322) and not in terms of "the horse race" of plot (324). This chapter will examine how Ondaatje repeats and builds on the image of the frame (picture frames, windows, doors, mirrors) in his long poems the man with seven toes (1969) and The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (1970), as well as in his first novel, Coming Through Slaughter (1976). The frame functions as a self-reflexive motif in these books, because Ondaatje works against the expectation (entrenched by the epic tradition) of continuous narrative in the long poem and novel by shaping his narratives as series of discrete but interrelated frames of poetry and lyrical prose. This chapter will focus specifically on Ondaatje's fascination with (un)framing the visual series and transforming it into a song cycle. For example, in the man with seven toes, Ondaatje frames his narrative as a series of individual lyrics loosely based on the "Mrs. Fraser" series of  34 paintings by the Australian artist Sidney Nolan. Stressing the mythical dimensions of Nolan's art, Ondaatje expands on the Aboriginal dimension of the Mrs. Fraser legend and transforms 11  the painted series into a song cycle. Alluding to the Songlines of Aboriginal myth, the long poem changes the setting of the legend and maps a new poetic territory using ballads and lyrics. Because song cycles work by correspondence and repetition, rather than by linear connection and continuous plot, the poet fashions a disjointed narrative using clusters of lyrics that connect through motifs and recurring themes. The woman's body is the physical link between the separate lyrics because her story of survival is inscribed upon her skin "like a map" (man 41). This simile connects the woman's story to traditions of European cartography and colonialism, as well as to Aboriginal traditions of body painting and Songlines. The narrative becomes a kind of secular walkabout, in which the mapping of the violent encounters between the woman and the inhabitants of the desert evolves into a cycle of songs which she performs. Ondaatje elaborates on this dynamic between the visual series and the song cycle in The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, which is an aggregate of lyrics, prose anecdotes, photographs, and interviews that critics frequently liken to a "picture album" because of its disjointed, visual style (Hutcheon, Canadian 47-48; see also Nodelman 68). "Space throughout the sequence of prose and poetry is bordered by box frames: porch rails, windows, walls, barbed wire fences, and coffins" (Blott 189), because Billy attempts to "fix" his world by framing it as a series of photographs. The poet-outlaw perceives the world in arrested images, even as he avoids arrest himself. He portrays himself evading portraits—or rather, the mysterious Canadian "orchestra" (Billy 84) shaping Billy's song cycle present him in this manner. The Canadian artists disturb the fixity implied in a conceit citing photography by constructing a song cycle about mythmaking, rather than about the historical figure. In Coming Through Slaughter, Ondaatje personifies the dynamic between the song cycle and visual series in the friendship between the jazzman Buddy Bolden and the photographer  35 Bellocq. The fictional encounter between these two historical figures is structured around the image of the broken frame, which is a trope that represents the synthesis of the artists' respective talents, as well as the process of frame-making and -breaking in Ondaatje's writing. Thus, the dynamic between the song cycle and visual series—which begins as a relationship between source material and adaptation in the man with the seven toes and evolves into a trope in The Collected Works ofBilly the Kid—functions on the level of metaphor, character, and form in Coming Through Slaughter, where the design of the novel is clearly shaped by the rhetorical techniques that Ondaatje developed in his long poems.  12  Even a cursory look at the architectural metaphors that Ondaatje invokes in his poetry and prose reveals how the author dismantles the rhetorical artifices he constructs. For example, Ondaatje displays an enduring interest in the architectural order of classical and neo-classical buildings, such as the Villa San Girolamo in The English Patient and the Wickramasinghe house in Anil's Ghost. The vaults, arches, and portals in these abandoned buildings possess a certain elegance, but they are also laden with explosives and targeted by revolutionaries. They provide a temporary shelter for the artist, but they are not a secure destination. After apprenticing in the forms of classicism, Ondaatje's artist-figures apply their skills to the task of undoing the social order that these buildings represent. Thus Patrick, the protagonist of In the Skin ofa Lion, attempts to dynamite the neo-classical Toronto Water Works, on which he has laboured. In the same novel, Ondaatje dramatizes the construction of the Bloor Street Viaduct, and transforms the webbed girders of the bridge into a "main character" and "love objec[fJ" (Ondaatje, "Where" 45). However, he contrasts the romance of bridge construction with Patrick's bombing of a Muskoka resort that caters to the Toronto elite. A similar scenario configures "Spider Blues," where Ondaatje's "black architec[t]"—the poet-spider — "thinks a path and travels / the 13  emptiness that was there / leaves his bridge behind" (62). While the poet admires the "classic" control of the spider's architecture, he reminds his reader that these "constructions / for succulent  36 travel" are the product of a "murderous art" in which visionaries (whether the spider, poet, or Commissioner Harris) lock their victims "in their dream" (62-3). "Spider Blues" questions the rage for order in Ondaatje's early lyrics, which were "obsessed with trapping and ordering the flux of phenomenal existence in well-crafted, closed artefacts" (Heighton 227). The shifting perspectives, self-reflexive tone, and length of "Spider Blues" suggest a re-alignment in Ondaatje's poetics in which he elevates an image into a conceit and then takes it apart. This (un)framing strategy recurs in many of the heavily anthologized poems from Rat Jelly (1973), including "The Gate in His Head." Bowering regards this poem as a turning point in Ondaatje's career because it marks "a departure, if not in form at least in intention, from his earlier predilection for preserving his objects in the amber of his directed emotions. In [Ondaatje's] poetry since 1973, and more so in his non-lyric works, we have seen him seeking the unrested form he requires" ("Ondaatje" 164). Bowering argues that the poem represents a move away from Ondaatje's "habit [...] of intensifying the world, of fashioning artifice" (164), but in 1980 Ondaatje was still defining the poem as "a work of art. It's an artifice, it's a chair, it was made by somebody" ("Moving" 139), and that somebody Ondaatje prefers to call "an artisan" instead of a "poet" (143). Whereas Bowering regards "The Gate in His Head" as transitional, Stephen Heighton considers the poem "a kind of manifesto; it is a clear assertion about what poetry should be and how it can fly by the nets of language" (Heighton 226). However, one should note the element of paradox in Heighton's reading of this pivotal lyric. The poem is a clear assertion against clarity: "not clarity but the sense of shift." The lyric frames its own unframing and thereby enacts a paradoxical process that shapes much of Ondaatje's poetry. Like Carson, who believes that paradox is the essence of desire, Ondaatje sees paradox as a productive force, precisely because it is not restive. From the perspective of (un)framing, Ondaatje's most concise architectural vision appears in "House on a Red Cliff," a lyric from his 1998 collection of poems, Handwriting.  37 Ondaatje uses the image of a flamboyant tree growing up through the skeleton of a fire-ravaged house to symbolize his poetic process: The flamboyant a grandfather planted having lived through fire lifts itself over the roof un framed the house an open net where the night concentrates on a breath on a step a thing or gesture we cannot be attached to (67)  The image of "the roof / unframed" and the metaphor of the "house an open net" connect this lyric to a number of earlier Ondaatje poems, such as "The Gate in His Head," where the poet's "mind is pouring chaos/ in nets onto the page," and "King Kong meets Wallace Stevens," where "W.S. in his suit/ is thinking chaos is thinking fences." Solecki analyzes the latter two poems in "Nets and Chaos" and argues that the "tension between mind and chaos is at the centre of Ondaatje's poetry; and its implications can be seen in the dualistic nature of his imagery, in the deliberate thematic irresolution of his major lyrics, and in the complex structuring of his two longer poems, the man with seven toes and The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (94). Such x  dualism and irresolution also characterize the concluding stanzas of "House on a Red C l i f f : The long, the short, the difficult minutes of night where even in darkness there is no horizon without a tree just a boat's light in the leaves Last footstep before formlessness (68)  38  These stanzas contrast long and short, light and dark, horizontal and vertical to bring one object into focus against another, but the images ultimately gravitate towards obscurity and silence. The drift is entropic. Entropy governs most of Ondaatje's major poems, such as "Letters & Other Worlds," where the poet's father composes "gentle letters [ . . . ] / With the clarity of architects" and then falls drunkenly to his death, "the blood searching in his head without metaphor" (46). Ondaatje's fascination with the dissolution of form stems from his desire to keep the conclusions of his poems open: "I would hate to think that a poem completed was a total canning of an incident or an event. It's something more; [...] there's got to be an open door or something at the end of the poem, so that you can step out or the writer can step out and admit that this isn't everything" ("Moving" 140). In his search for an open form, Ondaatje admits to being influenced by bp Nichol's "morality, how you have to lead the audience into your own perceptual sense, but then having a responsibility to lead them out again" ("1971 Interview" 12). A close examination of Ondaatje's first book-length poem, the man with seven toes, will demonstrate that the author leads his readers into the framework of Nolan's paintings and then leads them out again by unframing the visual series and transforming it into a song cycle reminiscent of an Aboriginal Songline. In a 1975 interview with Solecki, Ondaatje explains that he based the man with seven toes on a series of paintings by Sidney Nolan on the Mrs. Fraser story: "I got fascinated by the story of which I only knew the account in the paintings and the quote from Colin Machines" (20). Ondaatje reprints the Maclnnes account at the end of the man with seven toes, effectively sharing with the reader most of what he knows about Mrs. Fraser, since only a modest selection of paintings from the Mrs. Fraser series is reproduced in Ondaatje's sourcebook, Sidney Nolan: Mrs. Fraser was a Scottish lady who was shipwrecked on what is now Fraser Island, off the Queensland Coast. She lived for 6 months among the aborigines, rapidly losing her clothes, until she was discovered by one Bracefell, a deserting convict  39 who himself had hidden for 10 years among the primitive Australians. The lady asked the criminal to restore her to civilization, which he agreed to do i f she would promise to intercede for his free pardon from the Governor. The bargain was sealed, and the couple set off inland. At first sight of European settlement, Mrs. Fraser rounded on her benefactor and threatened to deliver him up to justice i f he did not immediately decamp. Bracefell returned disillusioned to the hospitable bush, and Mrs. Fraser's adventures aroused such admiring interest that on her return to Europe she was able to exhibit herself at 6d a showing in Hyde Park, (man 44; see Maclnnes 21-2) Ondaatje's placement of this synopsis at the end of the man with seven toes both frames and unframes his narrative. It provides a basic plot line for his lyric sequence, which is largely unintelligible on first reading because it was originally written for dramatic performance. The sequence refuses all background commentary, proceeds in brief imagistic fragments, and switches voice without warning between three different speakers: a narrator, an unnamed woman, and a male convict. To borrow a metaphor from Stephen Spender in his catalogue introduction to Nolan's series, Ondaatje's lyrics are "visible links in the chain of an invisible narrative" (n.p.). However, although the painted and poetic series are interlinked, they are not the same narrative. The Maclnnes synopsis goes some way to framing the man with seven toes retroactively, but it cannot be used as a rigid template for plotting Ondaatje's sequence. Ondaatje's heroine is not shipwrecked off the Queensland Coast; rather, she chooses to get off a train in the middle of the Australian outback. Lost in the arid landscape, the woman escapes starvation by being adopted by a tribe of Aborigines, which is an aspect of the myth barely treated by the painter and not represented in Sidney Nolan. Ondaatje's heroine makes a pact with a convict named Potter, not Bracefell, and the poet concentrates on the sexual and violent aspects of the couple's journey. Nolan, in contrast, gives their wanderings an Edenic quality and emphasizes the woman's betrayal of the man. Only the middle section of Ondaatje's narrative—the swamp scenes (18-25) and the convict portrait (32-33)—appear to derive from Nolan's paintings. Ondaatje thus unframes the narrative basis of Nolan's series and incorporates certain lyrical and mythic  40  elements from it into his song cycle. The Maclnnes synopsis helps to make sense, retroactively, of the overarching narrative and theme. However, on second reading, one reaches the synopsis and realizes that Ondaatje has largely rewritten the Mrs. Fraser story. Elsewhere, Ondaatje's cavalier treatment of source material has caused critics such as Arun Mukherjee to condemn his blatant "misuse of historical figures" (99). However, 14  Ondaatje makes no pretense to historical accuracy in the man with seven toes, and the whole issue of authentic portrayal is particularly fraught here because Mrs. Fraser herself altered her story to suit syndication (Alexander 131). Furthermore, the paintings Ondaatje uses as his source material "only vaguely suggest the stories and myths they are associated with" (Lynn 38). Nolan veers away from history towards myth, since his source, the Shipwreck of the Stirling Castle, is already "Embellished with engravings, portraits and scenes illustrative of the narrative," as its subtitle makes clear. Ondaatje proceeds even further along this mythic tagent and both artists clearly regard the dismantling of previous narratives as part of their imperative to create anew. the man with seven toes begins with a kind of derailment: The train hummed like a low bird over the rails, through desert and pale scrub, air spun in the carriages. She moved to the doorless steps where wind could beat her knees. When they stopped for water she got off sat by the rails on the wrist thick stones. The train shuddered, then wheeled away from her. She was too tired even to call. Though, come back, she murmured to herself. (9) This lyric is the most straightforward in Ondaatje's sequence, but the movement away from conventional syntax and linear narrative (symbolized by the train) has already begun. The first  41 sentence is a run-on. The connective "and" disappears from the phrase "she got off / sat by the rails," and the dramatic voice intrudes unheralded in the concluding sentence. The gaps in syntax and storyline widen with the appearance of the Aborigines: Not lithe, they move like sticklebacks, you hear toes crack with weight, elbows sharp as beaks grey pads of knees. Maps on the soles of their feet (13) Ondaatje leaves the linear train of thought behind in the first lyric and arranges his poem spatially, in blocks of images that combine to form a literary map. The map metaphor also recalls Robin Blaser's definition of the serial poem, which Ondaatje cites in The Long Poem Anthology: "It has to be a renewed language and information that becomes a kind of map" (Blaser, "Practice" 278). Like the picture frames with which Ondaatje is obsessed in Billy and Slaughter, the map doubles as a way of seeing and a way of writing. It is the first of many metaphors and analogies from the visual arts that Ondaatje exploits in his book-length works. By writing a lyric sequence inspired by Nolan's paintings, Ondaatje engages in an ekphrastic process that reverses Nolan's own method. Just as Ondaatje works with maps and photographs, "literary and visual impressions have always gone hand in hand in [Nolan's] work" (Lynn 7). He has illustrated Shakespeare's sonnets, translated and illustrated Rimbaud, and exhibited his famous Ned Kelly series alongside excerpts from his literary sources. A voracious reader, Nolan spoke "frequently, until as late as 1947, of becoming a poet" (Lynn 8). He wrote "short, condensed attempts at poetic prose" and his "habit of writing down visual impressions rather than making preliminary graphic, or painted, sketches" (B. Robertson 37) persisted throughout his career. The conjunction of Nolan's paintings with Ondaatje's poems therefore produces a movement that can be summarized as Verse: Ekphrasis: (Re)Verse, except that this  reversal of direction in genre does not retrace the same narrative path. Under close examination, the connections between Nolan and Ondaatje prove to be stronger in style than in content. Nolan's painterly example shows Ondaatje how to combine lyricism with narrative by developing myth in a series of imagistic fragments. For example, in the swamp scenes evocative of Nolan's paintings, Ondaatje's tone is clipped but his metaphors are layered and dense: Then swamp is blue green, the mist sitting like toads. Leaves spill snakes their mouths arched with bracelets of teeth. Once a bird, silver with arm wide wings flew a trail between trees and never stopped, caught all the sun and spun like mercury away from us (23) With its vivid imagery and narrow narrative scope, this lyric fits into the larger series like a segment of a storyboard for a film. It offers a succession of glimpses, rather than full-blown descriptions. It "relies on a form made up of brief self-contained, often cinematic, lyrics each of which explodes upon the reader with a single startling revelation" (Solecki, "Point" 138), just as Nolan combines an intense lyricism with "a commitment to sudden moments of revelation" (43). In fact, Ondaatje made a proposal to the National Film Board of Canada to adapt the man with seven toes as "cinema verite in the desert," but "they couldn't see it as one" (Ondaatje, "1971 Interview" 12). Nolan, for his part, "never made films, but in the early 1940s he was convinced that new forms of myth [...] would be best expressed through film" (Sayers 23). While at work on his Ned Kelly series, Nolan "wrote glowingly of Walt Disney, describing things as though they were sequences from films. As he struggled with his canvases, he dreamed of film, a medium not 'bounded by four straight lines, colour that moves while you watch it and music at your elbow into the bargain'" (Sayers 23). Nolan's storyboard technique connects his series to  43 film, but it also recalls the "early Renaissance panels that showed various stages of a saint's journey or martyrdom" (Lynn 23). Although it "is rare for a series of paintings on a single theme and treated with [such] a sustained, lyrical intensity [...] to be preserved as a unit" (23), it is precisely the possibility of sustaining the intensity of the lyric over longer and longer stretches of narrative that interests Ondaatje at this point in his career. Nolan and Ondaatje thus develop similar cinematic and lyrical techniques, but they produce two different "films." For example, both artists make extensive use of image repetition, because "jump cuts" between motifs create continuity within the serial narrative. Nolan's paintings exhibit a facination "with plastic rhymes, with the repetition of similar shapes: the hump of a camel mirrors the hollow of a gully; birds' legs mock the branches of trees" (Lynn 34).  15  Similarly, bird imagery appears in all the selections from the man with seven toes I have  quoted thus far, because, as Ondaatje frequently remarks, myth is created by "a very careful use of echoes—of phrases and images. There may be no logical connection when these are placed side-by-side, but the variations are always there setting up parallels" ("Afterword" 266-267). Thus, Ondaatje's opening simile of the train humming "like a low bird" introduces an image pattern that echoes throughout the song cycle. When the woman encounters the Aborigines, she observes that their faces are "scarred with decoration / feathers" (11) and their elbows are "sharp as beaks" (13). When she encounters their goats, she reacts to the animals' "balls bushed in the centre / cocks rising like birds flying to you" (16). The bird imagery becomes increasingly masculine and sexual when Potter gives his name and a "bird screeche[s] hideously past" (19). The woman notices that he has a "cock like an ostrich" (32), echoing her observation on the previous page that the eyelids of birds are "fresh as foreskins" (31). These phallic birds give the penultimate lyric in the collection a distinctly erotic overtone: She slept in the heart of the Royal Hotel  44 Her burnt arms and thighs soaking the cold off the sheets. She moved fingers onto the rough skin, traced the obvious ribs, the running heart, sensing herself like a map, then lowering her hands into her body. In the morning she found pieces of a bird chopped and scattered by the fan blood sprayed onto the mosquito net, its body leaving paths on the walls like red snails that drifted down in lumps. She could imagine the feathers while she had slept falling around her like slow rain (41) The dream-like image of white feathers falling around the woman while she sleeps raises the question of whether the entire poem is in fact her dream. For example, noting that the Aborigines resemble "figures of a delirium" more than real people, Travis Lane remarks that "[i]t is as i f the poem is her dream and Potter, the title-hero, the chief figure of her dream" (159). If the woman is indeed dreaming, the bird imagery follows a pattern of dream formation identified by Schemer and cited by Freud: 16  [I]n all symbolic dream-structures which arise from particular nervous stimuli, the imagination observes a general law: at the beginning of a dream it depicts the object from which the stimulus arises only by the remotest and most inexact allusions, but at the end, when the pictorial effusion has exhausted itself, it nakedly presents the stimulus itself. (449) This line of interpretation also suggests that the woman's subconscious has superimposed the story of Mrs. Fraser onto figures from her own experience. Certainly the nightmarish rape scenes and the castration images of the bird in the fan and Potter's severed toes invite a psychoanalytic reading of the narrative. Ondaatje encourages this reading with the statement that a writer "has to be on the border where [...] craft meets the accidental and the unconscious, as close as possible to the unconscious" ("1975 Interview" 22). However, Nolan's influence, as well as the  45 prominent role given to the Aborigines, suggests another interpretation that is more relevant to the broader discussion here. Reassessing the man with seven toes toward the end of her article, Lane argues that the long poem "presents not a dream so much as history as a dream" (159). This interpretation raises the question of whether the poem presents, not so much a dream, as a secular Dreaming. The seeds of this Dreaming are already sown in Nolan's series, which aimed to create myth from comparatively recent Australian legends and reflected a particular post-war ideology. In the 1950s, Nolan acted as a contributing editor to Angry Penguins, a review of literature and the arts which "represented the spirit of experiment, of cosmopolitan modernism opposed, for example, to the Jindyworobaks, a literary group which felt that European civilisation and its discontents could be replaced by a return to the myths and environment of Australia's original inhabitants" (Lynn 15).  17  Nolan embraced myth, but he wished to create myths out of characters from the  more recent past, such as Ned Kelly or Burke and Wills. In retrospect, the chief editor of Angry Penguins, Max Harris, remarks that the "time had come (despite Patrick White's later theory of environmental alienation) to express a white man's 'dreaming' in terms of poetry and painting" (M. Harris 16). By "dreaming," Harris refers to the Aboriginal myths detailing the creation of the universe, which map the Australian landscape through "Songlines": As every story or Dreaming relates to a particular feature of the landscape, series of stories create a track across the land connecting these places and the mystical happenings associated with them. These ancient tracks, which are called Songlines, go in all directions crossing the entire continent and initiated men and women can travel along these Songlines and interact with people from other tribes. (Corbally Stourton 21) Ondaatje's series of lyrics creates a mythical track across his literary landscape, but there is a visual expression of this Dreaming that complements its oral performance. One of the principal methods for representing a Dreaming is body painting, which is "looked upon as a great skill, and women practice it widely in most communities" (Corbally Stourton 17). In the Royal Hotel,  46  Ondaatje's heroine creates a kind of body painting from the physical legacy of her journey as she moves her fingers over her skin. Having tracked across large portions of the outback, she traces the curves of her body "like a map," which connects her to the Aborigines who had "[m]aps on the soles of their feet." Her roving hands also reconfigure a European tradition of metaphorical conceits in which male poets, such as John Donne in "Elegy 19," conflate the exploration of the female body with the colonization of foreign territories. The autoeroticism of the concluding lyric recontextualizes this tradition. The woman both embodies her history and dreams it into the present in altered form. Solecki therefore views the woman/Mrs. Fraser as "an Australian version of Atwood's Susanna Moodie, gradually developing from a situation in which she is alienated from the land to the point where she is one with it" ("Point" 138). Certainly Mrs. Fraser, in her various incarnations, has become a kind of Great Ancestor to White Australian art 1S  and literature in the same way that Moodie has achieved mythic status in Canada.  The stories  of both women serve as archetypes of the European immigrant experience. Nolan's later portraits of Mrs. Fraser have more in common with the Jindyworobaks, as Nolan represents the legendary woman using the design configurations of Aboriginal rock painting. Ondaatje, similarly, borrows from Aboriginal traditions to make his heroine a figure of oral history. She becomes a legend immortalized in song, like Potter, whose first appearance inspires a bush ballad: Potter was a convict brought in on the GLITTER DAN they landed him in Adelaide in a week the bugger ran The bounty men they came for him they lookedfor sixty weeks but Potter lived on wolves and birds down in Cooper's Creek (20)  47  This passage supplies another example of Ondaatje's freewheeling use of historical details. The reference to Cooper's Creek alludes to an entirely separate myth, the tragic deaths of the Australian explorers Burke and Wills, which itself distorts the facts: Burke and Wills are popularly believed to have died in the desert when in fact they were camped by Cooper's Creek, with no shortage of water, in an area where local Aborigines easily obtained a varied and adequate diet. But by focusing on the horrors of the desert, these myths generated both national martyrs and an expectation that White Australians "deserved" the land and anything else they could wrest from it, as minimal recompense for the sufferings and death of their heroic representatives. (Haynes 33) In contrast to the explorers, who were arrogant in their goals and ignorant in their means, Potter moves easily between European and Aboriginal cultures and so forages and survives. Nolan also painted a series about Burke and Wills, but he represented them as awkward and incompetent figures, not heroes. This fact suggests that Ondaatje gives Bracefell the name of Potter because the man with seven toes is a pottage of Nolan's various series on Mrs. Fraser, Burke and Wills, Leda and the Swan, and outback hotels. Potter is another of Ondaatje's beloved mongrels, an 19  inference prefigured by the cover image of "Man and Dog" and by the appearance of the wild dog who accompanies the woman in the second lyric of the sequence. While Potter's exploits are recorded in the rollicking ballad forms of the outback, the woman's song begins with a melodic verse from the Scottish ballad, "Waly, Waly": When we came into Glasgow town we were a lovely sight to see My love was all in red velvet and I myself in cramasie (42) In contrast to the pastoral themes of traditional Scottish ballads, Ondaatje adds two stanzas full of urban images that stress the industrial environment of Glasgow. In this setting, the attraction of the woman seems to be her connection to Aboriginal culture and its traditions of oral performance: Three dogs came out from still grey streets they barked as loud as city noise,  48 their tails and ears were like torn flags and after them came girls and boys The people drank the silver wine they ate the meals that came in pans And after eating watched a lady singing with her throat and hands (42) Whereas the real Mrs. Fraser exhibited her scars in London's Hyde Park, Ondaatje's woman sings and acts out her songs. The crowd comes to hear the woman, Ondaatje implies, because the Scots are also a clannish people with "wild rivers" coursing beneath their rational "calm": Green wild rivers in these people running under ice that's calm, God bring you also some tender stories and keep you all from hurt and harm (42) Like the Aborigines, the Scottish audience responds enthusiastically to storytelling in song, and their industrial present only heightens their fascination with the mythic past. By staging the man with seven toes as a dramatic performance at the Vancouver Poetry Festival in 1968 and at the Stratford Festival in 1969, Ondaatje aimed to reach his audience in a similar fashion. This interpretation presupposes that Ondaatje had some interest in Aboriginal culture in 1967. I am confident that Ondaatje was familiar with the concepts of the Songline and 90  walkabout, but he does not allude to any specific Aboriginal myths in the man with seven toes. Rather, he tends to collapse myths into myth: I am interested in myth. Making it, remaking it, exploding. I don't like poems or works that cash in on a cliche of history or a personality. I don't like pop westerns and pop Billy the Kids. Myths are only of value to me when they are realistic as well as having other qualities of myth. Another thing that interests me about myth is how and when figures get caught in myths. I thought Tony Richardson's film on Ned Kelly was marvellous for this reason, better for me than Bonnie and Clyde. ("1972 Interview" 21) These comments on myth (also the topic of Ondaatje's Master's thesis) suggest a bridge between the man with seven toes and The Collected Works of Billy the Kid. The association of Billy the K i d with Ned Kelly in this paragraph is striking because Ondaatje has stated that he was  49 "previously interested in Nolan's Ned Kelly series" before he began the man with seven toes ("1975 Interview" 20). Like Billy, Nolan's Kelly is "a protean figure responding to Nolan's changing styles and attitudes" (Lynn 48). Also like Billy—who was not included in the general amnesty for the deaths incurred by the Lincoln County War—Kelly "began as a joking saint and as an icon-figure of justice and revenge" and eventually became "a lonely resister, a protester without a programme, carrying out ritualistic murders whose original cause has been forgotten" (Lynn 48). Nolan himself identified Kelly with Billy and, while living in New York, travelled to see "the pageant of Lincoln in New Mexico where the story of Billy the K i d is enacted" because the harsh landscape "kept Kelly fresh in his mind" (39). Cementing this connection, Ondaatje links the two outlaw myths in The Collected Works of Billy the Kid by borrowing Kelly's famous helmet motif from Nolan. Ondaatje's "picture of Billy" (5), the empty picture frame that opens and closes The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, strongly suggests the square black helmet worn by Nolan's outlaw. Although the historical Kelly wore his iron helmet only once, the head of Nolan's outlaw appears as a black square with an eye aperture in every panel from the Kelly series. Nolan fashioned and re-fashioned the helmet motif until it became "as important in Nolan's work as [...] the guitar for Braque, Picasso and Gris" (Lynn 10): Kelly's helmet, forged against a day of doom, but finally encompassing Kelly's ruin, epitomizes Kelly's destiny. In the 1946-7 paintings the helmet is a mask; in the paintings about 1955 the helmet and face are almost one, and in 1964 in a painting where Kelly and a horse almost sink in a swamp, the ruddy face transforms the helmet into a fleshy cube. (Lynn 28) Kelly's helmet becomes his identity even as it hastens his demise, just as Billy's absent portrait thematizes the pursuit, capture, and escape of the outlaw. The real Kelly gang hammered metal ploughshares into bulletproof helmets and body armour in preparation for a shoot out with police, which they lost, in part because the weight of their armour prevented their escape. Similarly, Ondaatje's Billy shoots portraits and jails his adversaries in his stories, until he himself  50  is jailed and, later, shot. Thus, Ondaatje follows Nolan in matching the outlaw's portrait to his way of perceiving (through windows, peepholes, riflesights) and of being perceived (inside the frame of the artwork, as a "framed" criminal). Such frames-within-frames focus the audience's vision telescopically, as Nolan makes explicit in the picture of "Mrs. Fraser 1947," where the "grey surround makes the scene appear to be caught in the lens of binoculars" (Maclnnes 74). Narrowing the focus also limits the narrative panorama and privileges a particular viewing subject in the manner of a lyric. Thus, in attempting to sustain the allusiveness and intensity of the lyric voice without sacrificing the momentum of narrative, Ondaatje takes a cue from the way that Kelly's helmet creates "rhythm and passage over time" (Sayers 24): Not only does the helmet allow the Kelly legend to be told with the minimum of anecdotal elaboration, but it is also used as an icon of multiple emotions. Through the aperture the eyes blaze with revenge, droop with regret, are haunted with remorse or fade into weary introspection. Sometimes the aperture shows only the land and the sky. This, with the uniformly black, flat silhouette of the helmet, is an optical device to create a vivacious, tangible area in contrast to the smudgy details. When the landscape is concentrated in the aperture—like a picture within a picture—it crystallises, epitomises the impact; at the same time the helmet creates a focal point and gives cohesion to the scattered, dispersed landscape. (Lynn 29) In Billy, Ondaatje's settings are sparsely detailed, his characterizations anecdotal, and his scenes brief, but he introduces the frame as a recurring composition to create continuity and emotional focus. By placing the empty frame at the beginning of his text, Ondaatje invites his audience to read Billy through this perceptual lens. Ondaatje has stated that "when you write you create a photograph in some way" ("Personal" 4) and his framed compositions in Billy combine to form a portrait of the outlaw in the absence of a photograph. However, because the significance of the empty frame is not immediately apparent, Ondaatje juxtaposes it with a quotation from the frontier photographer L . A . Huffman:  51 I send you a picture of Billy made with the Perry shutter as quick as it can be worked—Pyro and soda developer. I am making daily experiments now and find I am able to take passing horses at a lively trot square across the line of fire—bits of snow in the air—spokes well defined—some blur on top of wheel but sharp in the main—men walking are no trick—I will send you proofs sometime. I shall show you what can be done from the saddle with the ground glass or tripod— please notice when you get the specimens that they were made with the lens wide open and many of the best exposed when my horse was in motion. (Billy 5) In much the same way that he used Coleman's letter and the gull photograph in "The Gate in His Head," Ondaatje uses Huffman's commentary here to outline a poetics. The excerpt foreshadows many stylistic developments in the ensuing text: it is a prose passage that begins in a colloquial voice and then (d)evolves into a poetic tone through fragmentation that elides subjects, verbs, and connective phrases, and favours clusters of nouns. It unframes the conventional syntax of the opening clause and fashions a more vital poetic diction from fragments. Indeed, as Barbour observes, the excerpt reflects Ondaatje's writing style because Ondaatje composed it: [The letter] is really a carefully edited pastiche of two separate letters from Huffman to Perrin Cuppy Huffman, 18 January 1885 and 7 June 1885; the name of the person photographed is Bessie, Huffman's daughter, and the letters are found in the chapter titled " L . A . Huffman, Frontier Photographer," in Mark H. Brown and W.R. Felton, The Frontier Years: L.A. Huffman Photographer of the Plains[.] (Ondaatje 222) Furthermore, Huffman photographed the disappearing Western frontier in Montana, not New Mexico, so it is unlikely that he would have encountered Billy. Thus, instead of presenting a portrait of Billy the Kid in the opening pages, Ondaatje presents a portrait of Billy, the written artifact. Ondaatje's descriptive passages are frequently double-coded, such that the actions they describe also illustrate the author's writing process. For example, the barn scene (17-18) supplies a picture of Billy as well as enacting the process of (un)framing that shapes Ondaatje's writing. The first four paragraphs establish order and harmony with even prose descriptions in which Billy observes how objects "se[t] up patterns in the dark." Billy "avoid[s] the cobwebs who had places to grow to, who had stories to finish," and he "never [eats] flesh or touch[es] another  52 animal's flesh, never enter[s] his boundary" (17). He depicts an orderly, almost mechanical universe that suddenly plunges into chaos when some rats (drunk on fermented grain) attack each other. His tranquility disturbed, Billy sits on a window ledge, pulls out his revolver, and kills everything that moves. When the smoke clears, only Billy remains: "the boy in the blue shirt sitting there coughing at the dust" (18). The framed image of Billy in the window gauging the aftermath of his violence is as emblematic a portrait as any in the text, and the "syntax of the passage is paradigmatic in its dissolution of subject-verb-object connections and its pronominal uncertainty. Billy narrates a self he cannot hold in place: it slips from first to third person, as the peace slips into violence" (Barbour, Ondaatje 52). Billy's Apollonian love of frames thus lays the groundwork for his Dionysian fits of unframing. Initially, the empty frame substitutes for Billy's portrait because the outlaw wants "to freeze action in a series of still photographs, or a series of shots approaching still photographs" (Cooley, "Here" 217), even as he evades capture by camera or gun. The frame is empty because the outlaw likes to portray himself as escaping portraits, jails, and domestic ties to women. For example, in a sexually charged encounter with Angela D., Billy gets caught in a sun picture as Angela moves seductively from the door jam towards the bed where he lies: she walks slow to the window lifts the sackcloth and jams it horizontal on a nail so the bent oblong of sun hoists itself across the room framing the bed the white flesh of my arm (21) Ensnared by Angela's seductive approach, Billy reacts by turning himself into a camera: "I am very still/1 take in all the angles of the room" (21). He freezes the scene as a photograph and stops the poem before Angela can take him. A s in the visual narrative of a storyboard, the gap between this frame and the next leaves much to the reader's imagination.  53  Even alone, Billy peers through an endless series of thresholds and portals which mimic the camera obscura on which the photographic camera is based. Consider, for example, the "7 foot high doorway" whose "slide of sun" Billy watches and avoids: I am on the edge of the cold dark watching the white landscape in its frame a world that's so precise every nail and cobweb has magnified itself to my presence (74) In this scene, the reader finds "Billy, typically, staring warily at the edge, constantly on edge. In every way an out-law, he tries, at times distends and transgresses, boundaries. More often, he fears to cross the lines, hopes to defend his hard-held borders against all trespassers" (Cooley, "Here" 212). The outlaw positions himself on the edge between presence and absence, caught vision and unfettered motion in order to unsettle the photographic frames he creates. The connection between Billy and framing is so insistent that the (un)framed composition immediately identifies Billy as the perceiving "I." Ducking out of portraits and shooting word pictures (like Huffman) with his horse in motion, Billy challenges the notion of photography as a static art. This critical position, which I have endorsed thus far, can be seen for example in Nodelman's "The Collected Photographs of Billy the Kid," where the critic argues that "Billy's artistry is a matter of stopping change—the dead stillness of the actual photographs in the book mirrors the dead stillness of Billy's own perception of the world; he 'fixes' things, either with guns or with the photographic 'word pictures' of his collected works" (76). Yet, when Billy recalls Huffman's blurred (and fictitious) photograph, he reminds his critics that photography does not necessarily fix its subject: "I remember, when they took the picture of me there was a white block down the fountain road where somebody had come out of a building and got off the porch onto his horse and ridden away while I was waiting standing still for the acid in the camera to dry firm" (68). Like the gull in "The Gate in His Head," the subject of this photograph moves to the clear. Add mind-altering chemicals into the mix, and the effect is like a dam break, as  54 Billy discovers when he experiments with red dirt marijuana: "I was thinking of a photograph someone had taken of me, the only one I had then. I was standing on a wall, at my feet there was this bucket and in the bucket was a pump and I was pumping water out over the wall. Only now, with the red dirt, water started dripping out of the photo" (50). However momentarily caught, these subjects are not permanently arrested. Because Billy moves out of the frames of his own photography, The Collected Works proves to be less an historical portrait of an American icon than an exploration of "how and when figures get caught in myths" (Ondaatje, "1972 Interview" 21). Ondaatje sets the story in a "fantasy west" ("Personal" 3) that he lyricizes (in Billy's poems), dramatizes (in the interview dialogue), and satirizes (in the comic book legend). This outlaw fantasy began to take shape for the author at "about the age of seven": Roughly when the last picture in the book (of me in Ceylon in a cowboy outfit) was taken. Then it wasn't specifically Billy the Kid, but cowboys that was important. [...] The question that's so often asked—about why I wrote about an American hero [—] doesn't really interest me cos I hardly knew what an American was when the image of 'cowboy' began that germinating process. I was writing about something that had always interested me, something within myself, not out there in a specific country or having some political or sociological meaning. ("1972 Interview" 20) Ondaatje's fantasy Billy is thus part Ceylonese cowboy, part comic book hero, part Australian bushranger, and part American legend. The photograph of Ondaatje the Kid, the comic book illustrations, and the visual allusions to Ned Kelly communicate the fantastic, rather than photorealistic, basis of the text. From the opening catalogue—where Billy intones in the present tense: "These are the killed./ (By me)" (6)—Ondaatje's presence behind Billy's persona is evident. Gradually, however, Ondaatje dismantles the artifice of Billy speaking from beyond the grave. For example, several passages where Billy possesses an uncommon knowledge for a nineteenthcentury cattle rustler strike an anachronistic chord, such as this reference to a white dwarf:  55  I have seen pictures of great stars, drawings which show them straining to the centre that would explode their white if temperature and the speed they moved at shifted one degree [• • •]  the one altered move that will make them maniac. (41) Making allusions to "White Dwarfs" and other early lyrics, Ondaatje wears a very thin mask while speaking in Billy's voice. To a certain extent, he strips away this mask at the conclusion of Billy by inserting a photograph of himself as a child into the empty picture frame that began the book. This portrait of Ondaatje the Kid does not fill the entire frame and it remains unclear whether Ondaatje is juxtaposing his picture with Billy's portrait, or whether the snapshot is in fact the "picture of Billy" that has taken the length of the narrative to fix in developing solution. If the smaller photograph had been of Billy, it would have grounded the narrative by creating a bookend arrangement of portraits. As it is, however, the final photograph has a subversive, rather than stabilizing effect on the documentary framework. Although MacLulich states that photography is a "controlling metaphor" (107) in The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, Ondaatje uses the medium to subversive ends. In an analysis of "The Gate in His Head" that applies equally well to Billy, Bowering observes that "Ondaatje loves photographs, especially when they disrupt one's settled notions of composition" ("Northward" 8). Such disruptions occur from the very first photograph reproduced in Billy (13), which portrays three cavalrymen by the skeleton of a large animal, although "the law" in the story is a sheriffs posse, not a cavalry regiment. The picture complements themes in the narrative (landscape, law, death) rather than illustrating its plot. The photograph also calls attention to the form of Ondaatje's writing, as the cavalryman in the foreground steps out of the picture while the soldier in the middle ground paints a sign. A l l of the men "face the borders of the picture, creating the impression of what Barthes calls a 'blind field' outside the frame beyond the access of the viewer" (M. Jones 74). A similarly blind field informs the initial "picture of  56 Billy," according to Kamboureli: "The absent portrait of Billy also announces the 'negative' of narration. It becomes, in Derrida's words, an exergue—what lies 'outside the work,' 'inscription,' 'epigraph.' It suggests that Billy lies outside the poem, cannot be contained in a single frame" (Edge 185). Ondaatje thus incorporates the conventional association of photography with the captive image into his authorial ruse and inverts its documentary authority. Traditional portraiture fares little better than photography in capturing Billy's visage, as the outlaw observes: a pencil harnessing my face goes stumbling into dots (Billy 85) Other characters get caught in Billy's frames, but even then the writing gravitates towards formlessness. For example, Billy frames a portrait of Sallie Chisum in a bright interior, but his narrative gaze directs the reader's eye towards a dark exterior: Around us total blackness, nothing out there but a desert for seventy miles or more, and to the left, a few yards away, a house stuffed with yellow wet light where within the frame of a window we saw a woman moves carrying fire in a glass funnel and container towards the window, towards the edge of the dark where we stood. (Billy 37) This passage supplies a perfect example of an aperture highlighting one aspect of a scene in contrast to the smudgy details of the surrounding landscape. While rehearsing the tenebristic contrast between light and dark that plays an important role in The English Patient and In the Skin of a Lion (hence the character Caravaggio), this passage multiplies frames-within-frames 21  and blurs the distinction between the inside and outside of the portrait. Ondaatje also multiplies frames-within-frames in the actual photographs he selects as the visual complement to The Collected Works of Billy the Kid. For example, one photograph (23) depicts a conventional homestead in which a window frames the head of a woman and a doorway frames the body of a man. A later photograph (45) seems to enter the open doorway and offer a shot of the homestead's interior. Yet another photograph (91) reproduces a detail  57 from this interior, showing a gun hanging in a holster by the bed. Punning visually on the verb "to shoot," the lens narrows its focus from the formal portrait, to the rustic interior, to the bedroom detail with its suggestions of sex and violence. From panorama to close-up, the embedded series has the cinematic effect of a zoom, yet each frame unsettles the impression conveyed by the previous one. By repeating images and performing minor variations on them, Ondaatje encourages his reader to make the connection between pictures and moving pictures. For example, in Billy, the empty frame begins as a photograph, but repetition of the motif creates the impression of a film being shown frame by frame. Indeed, as studies in motion, serial photography anticipated film. The photograph of man and horse on the cover of Billy (which echoes the image of "Man and Dog" on the cover of the man with seven toes) is from a motion study by the pioneer of serial photography, Eadweard Muybridge (Scobie, "Two" 191). Responding to a dare from the former governor of California, Leland Stanford, who wished to prove that a trotting horse can have all four feet off the ground at once, Muybridge demonstrated that the pictorial conventions of Western art had misrepresented the horse for centuries. Using 24 cameras positioned in a row and triggered electronically, Muybridge produced his famous Animal Locomotion series, which was initially financed by Stanford (1872-82), but later garnered subscriptions from luminaries such as Degas, Whistler, Sargent, and Rodin. These motion studies led Muybridge, who began his career as a bookseller, to develop a prototype of the motion picture camera, which he called the zoopraxigrapher. Thus, in producing a book whose photographic imagery functions cinematically, Ondaatje again reverses the artistic process of one of his heroes. Although Ondaatje does not overtly acknowledge Muybridge in his book credits, he plants a clue when he states that "the comment about taking photographs around 1870-80" (n.p.) is from the Huffman letter, which dates from 1885, as Barbour has demonstrated  58 The image on the cover of Billy belongs to the second frame of Plate 79 in Muybridge's "Animal Locomotion" series, which bears the suggestive title, "Pandora jumping a hurdle" (Muybridge n.p.). In opening the cover of Billy, then, the reader opens a Pandora's box of framed images and authorial ruses. As in Muybridge's series, where "[fjramed dark space between the individual images produces a slow, careful cadence akin to the feeling of watching fast motion slowed down" (Sheldon 15), Ondaatje uses black borders and white gaps to give each segment of his story the visual rhythm of poetry. Yet, like Spicer and Muybridge, Ondaatje is a "time mechanic" (Spicer, Lorca n.p.) and his sequence of arrested images produces a sense of temporal continuity. In this context, it is worthwhile to note that Stanford was a railroad tycoon, because, at the outset of the man with seven toes and the conclusion of Coming Through Slaughter, the train functions as a symbol of the linearity that Ondaatje's narratives work with and against. Ondaatje creates a sense of narrative progression, but he reconfigures the segments of time's arrow in his "modular fiction" (Godard 32), as did Muybridge, who later juxtaposed photographs of the same series of events taken from multiple angles, thereby producing an impression of simultanaeity decades before Cubism, and "presag[ing] the cinematic convention of the cut" (Sheldon 16). Paying close attention to the cinematic aspects of Billy, MacLulich argues in his essay "Ondaatje's Mechanical Boy: Portrait of the Artist as Photographer" that repetition and fragmentation profoundly alter the narrative by allowing Ondaatje to reconfigure the segments of a linear storyline: Ondaatje's images of Billy do not create a static portrait, but a shifting and elusive picture—like a film which contains discontinuities, flash-backs and slow motion segments. As we turn Ondaatje's pages, Billy's story dissolves into fragments of action, isolated moments of sensation, recollection or hallucination. Taken collectively, Ondaatje's snapshots of Billy lose their static qualities and map a world of flux and uncertainty. (MacLulich 108-9)  59 MacLulich's interpretation of Billy here contradicts Nodelman's argument that the images are static, but even Nodelman observes that Billy "remembers putting his hand into a wounded stomach in order to retrieve a bullet, and the last six lines are the first six in reverse order—like a film run backwards" (Nodelman 70; see Billy 27). Indeed, Ondaatje has claimed that "with Billy the Kid I was trying to make the film I couldn't afford to shoot, in the form of a book. A l l those B movies in which strange things that didn't happen but could and should have happened I explored in the book" ("1975 Interview" 20). In this light, one could argue that the "picture of Billy" is in fact a film being projected onto the blank screen of the empty frame, just as Huffman's commentary projects images of his photographs onto the blank page. In any case, Ondaatje, Nodelman, and MacLulich set out to investigate photography, but their investigations, different as they may have been, lead them to film. Yet even when working in film, Ondaatje is not content to work within the conventions of the genre. For example, in discussing his film The Clinton Special (1972), Ondaatje says he "wanted that sense throughout the film that each shot would almost be a static photograph. Thus throughout the film the camera doesn't move very much at all [...]. It's talking photography" ("1975 Interview" 16). I have emphasized the adverb "almost" here because Ondaatje slows down film so that it is almost photography, and he blurs and serializes photography so that it is almost film. Film and photograph are not static nouns in Ondaatje's vocabulary; they are active verbs in the process of being modified. The author makes one genre approximate another, as he does when he distinguishes the aims of "documentary poetry" from the Canadian tradition of documentary film in the introduction to The Long Poem Anthology: "In a country with an absurd history of film, real film goes underground. And it comes up often in strange clothes— sometimes as theater, sometimes as poetry" (15). In this game of disguises, the guiding generic format is not always the one designated on the cover, as Ondaatje explains: "You know, I wanted to call my new book of poems, Secular Love, 'a novel.' I structured it like one. For me its  60 structure and plot are novelistic. Each section deals with a specific time. But the people in them are interrelated. But, of course, they are drawn in a lyric, perceived by a lyric eye" ("1984 Interview" 324). Thus, whether writing, drawing, photographing, or filming, Ondaatje disguises one genre as another. Yet he consistently creates lyrical frames that combine to approximate a plot, in the manner of a song cycle. Ondaatje personifies the confrontation between lyrical and prosaic impulses in The Collected Works of Billy the Kid by staging a generic gunfight between Garrett (who communicates in blocks of prose) and Billy (who speaks mostly in lyrics). Critics generally equate Billy with Ondaatje because of Billy's lyricism and the photograph of Ondaatje as a kid, but the author also writes from Garrett's first-person perspective, and to ignore Garrett's prosaic role underestimates the complexity of Ondaatje's long poem. In Garrett's voice, Ondaatje "finds Billy both attractive and undisciplined. The prosaic lawman dismisses out of hand the poetic outlaw—precisely for his poetry, the imagination confronting chaos" (Barbour, Ondaatje 62-63). Garrett overtakes Billy according to the plot; but Billy exacts his revenge formally, by absorbing Garrett's voice and narrative strategies into his collected works. Their antagonism parallels Ondaatje's struggle to escape the perspectival confines of the lyric "I," as the author explains: "With Billy I began with a couple of poems I had written about Billy the K i d and moved from these to being dissatisfied with the limits of lyric; so I moved to prose and interviews and so on" ("1975 Interview" 26). Writing prose poems (20, 90) and prose with line breaks (15), as well as having Billy speak increasingly in prose (60, 67), and framing the comic book legend in the same black outline used for the photographs (99-102), Ondaatje gradually breaks down generic distinctions until Sallie Chisum can offer these "FINAL THOUGHTS" on Billy and Garrett: There was good mixed in with the bad in Billy the Kid and bad mixed in with the good in Pat Garrett. [...]  61 Both were worth knowing. (89) This near convergence of opposed personalities reflects the near convergence of poetry and prose in Billy. By testing the univocal and synchronic limits of the lyric and photograph, Ondaatje calls attention to "the fictional nature of the frame and disrupts its coherence [...] via the strategies of documentary-collage" (M. Jones 76). Ondaatje uses collage to lead the reader into a particular perspectival stance and then lead them out again, as Barbour's reading of Billy demonstrates: "Asserting the play of significations, the insecurity of flux, the refusal of closure, the collage text remains open, breaking out from the 'frame-up' of the still photograph into a confusion of gestures that cannot be held in place" (Barbour, Ondaatje 63). It is not surprising, therefore, that Ondaatje also produced a "picture collage of Billy," as well as a concrete poem called "silver bullet" that incorporated the picture of Ondaatje the Kid ("1971 Interview" 9). Ondaatje attributes his interest in such visual strategies to being "surrounded by so many painters— my [ex-]wife Kim, and Greg Curnoe, Bob Fones, and Tony Urquhart" (9).  22  Paradoxically, by  investigating these visual strategies and testing their limitations, Ondaatje creates a composition that easily transforms from a visual series into a song cycle. Although the opening of The Collected Works of Billy the Kid suggests that photography will be the controlling metaphor in the book, Ondaatje's collage technique opens up multiple entry points into the story. The importance of this initial impression should not be overlooked, as Ondaatje stresses the connection between beginnings and architectural strategies in one discussion of narrative form: "At the conference on the long poem, George Bowering was talking about the derivation of the word 'order' as coming from 'to begin.' I don't know if that's true or not but it's interesting that in writing Running and Slaughter the two pieces I wrote to order the book were written last—but went in at the beginning" ("1984 Interview" 327).  62 However, a second beginning comes 15 pages into the narrative that refutes the authority of photography in its opening sentence: Not a story about me through their eyes then. Find the beginning, the slight silver key to unlock it, to dig it out. Here then is a maze to begin, be in. ^ Two years ago Charlie Bowdre and I criss-crossed the Canadian border. Ten miles north of it ten miles south. Our horses stepped from country to country, across low rivers, through different colours of tree green. The two of us, our criss-cross like a whip in slow motion, the ridge of action rising and falling, getting narrower in radius till it ended and we drifted down to Mexico and old heat. That there is nothing of depth, of significant accuracy, of wealth in the image, I know. It is there for a beginning. (Billy 20) This new beginning underscores the recursive treatment of time in Billy. It also introduces the first reference to Canada and suggests, without historical basis, that Billy and his friends engage in border crossings to the north as well as to the south. The anachronism suggests that the "key" to unlocking Billy's maze involves a close consideration of Billy's "posse" and its connection to Canada. For example, researching the photograph of John and Sallie Chisum (31) reveals that it is "a photo of two of the people the book is dedicated to, Stuart and Sally Mackinnon" in pioneer dress (Barbour, Ondaatje 54). Having inserted Stuart Mackinnon into the text in place of Tip McKinney, Ondaatje also deputizes the Canadian poet—author of "The Intervals," collected in Ondaatje's Long Poem Anthology—to accompany Garrett and Poe in their final pursuit of Billy (92). Photography thus functions as both an ordering impulse and a force of disorder in Billy, as it provides an entry point for Mackinnon's parodic interventions. The unframing of the photographic conceit is thus a kind of jailbreak which frees the transgressors to transgress again. As the pretense of documentary realism in Billy gradually erodes, the importance of the song cycle structure becomes increasingly clear. The dedication at the end of Billy is in fact a list of the players—"Kim [Ondaatje], Stuart and Sally Mackinnon, Ken Livingstone, Victor Coleman, and Barrie Nichol" (n.p.)—involved in the performance of the collected/collective works, as Ondaatje explains:  63 I know when I was writing both Billy and Slaughter, I had a sense that it wasn't just my point of view that was writing the book; it was people around me that I knew, the interests of people around me, being aware of certain things—certain questions—from the point of view of people around me as much as myself. It doesn't matter who writes the book; the book is for me a kind of funnelling of various people's ideas and emotions, between the years 1968 and 1973 or 1973 to 1976, who represent your age and your group and the book comes out that way. ("Moving" 141) The song cycle structure permits any voice, however minor and fragmentary, to enter and exit the narrative without disturbing the flow of the story. As editors of Billy, and as artists in their own right, K i m Ondaatje and Victor Coleman have an unobtrusive influence on Ondaatje's writing, which I have already documented. However, Ken Livingstone, who directed the first performance of the man with seven toes at the Vancouver Festival (man 45), makes a direct appearance in Billy. Livingstone appears as an outcast who breeds a race of mad spaniels. (Note that Ondaatje is listed in the Canadian Who's Who for having "developed and bred [a] new strain of spaniel, 'The Sydenham Spaniel,' Candn. Kennel Club 1970, with Livingstone Animal Foundation Kennels" [718]).  23  A reference to Barrie (bp) Nichol—the subject of Ondaatje's film  Sons of Captain Poetry [1970] and a member of the sound poetry collective The Four Horsemen—also appears in Billy. The outlaw praises Nichol in an apocryphal statement towards the conclusion of his "Exclusive Jail Interview" (81) with the Texas Star: "There's a Canadian group, a sort of orchestra, that is the best. Great. Heard them often when I was up there trying to get hold of a man who went by the name of Captain P  .* Never found him. But that group  will be remembered a long time" (84). The asterix lacks an explanatory note, but it emphasizes that the text is double-coded. The text can be read at the level of American pop culture, whose influence stretches from contemporary Canada to the Ceylon of Ondaatje's childhood, and beyond. For audiences who recognize the clues, however, the text functions as a tribute to the stylistic experiments being conducted by a particular group of Canadian artists in the late 1960s.  64 Having put together his own gang of orchestral Horsemen in this livre-d-clef, Ondaatje summons them for a performance of the mock-elegy that follows Billy's (possibly mistaken) shooting. The chorus performs Billy's ballad in a voice similar to, but more satirical than, the concluding ballad in the man with seven toes: Poor young William's dead with a fish stare, with a giggle with blood planets in his head. The blood came down like river ride long as Texas down his side. We cleaned him up when blood was drier his eyes looked up like turf on fire. (104) "We" uses an "eight foot garden hose" to wash Billy down, then "I" sells the outlaw's bullets "to the Texas Star" where "[t]hey weighed them, put them in a pile/ took pictures with a camera" (104). Taking this pronominal uncertainty one step further, the concluding verse repeats the opening verse, but invokes the authority of an ambiguous "he": Poor young William's dead with blood planets in his head with a fish stare, with a giggle like he said. (104) The final written entry in Billy further complicates the referent of "he" by keeping the distinction between author and protagonist to a minimum. Having staged a gunfight between Billy (poetry) and Garrett (prose), Ondaatje clears away the smoke and remarks: It is now early morning, was a bad night. The hotel room seems large. The morning sun has concentrated all the cigarette smoke so one can see it hanging in pillars or sliding along the roof like amoeba. In the bathroom, I wash the loose nicotine out of my mouth. I smell the smoke still in my shirt. (105) The death of Billy in the previous pages, combined with the picture of Ondaatje the K i d on the ensuing page, would seem to identify this speaker as Ondaatje. However, the passage repeats a description from an earlier scene in which Billy is the narrator (71), thereby maintaining the possibility that Billy speaks from beyond the grave. On the other hand, the speaker is in a kind of  65 garrett, suggesting that he could be the lawman. These identities shift like the architectonic smoke and underscore the indeterminacy of the entire text. This indeterminacy, in turn, signals the increasingly playful character of Ondaatje's writing. In "Ondaatje Learning to Do," Bowering argues that the trajectory of Ondaatje's career— from its anecdotal and imagistic beginnings in The Dainty Monsters (1967) to its cross-genre developments in the collage texts—epitomizes the course of Canadian writing in general: The development of Ondaatje's poetry, from his early years in this country to the present, resembles the development of the main currents of Canadian verse over a period perhaps twice as long. Unlike the Vancouver poets with their advocacy of open-ended, process form, Ondaatje emerged from the school that believes the poem to be an artifact, something well-made and thus rescued from the chaos of contemporary world and mind. If the Vancouver poets might loosely be said to descend from Robert Duncan, and Victor Coleman from Louis Zukofsky, Ondaatje might be said to descend from Yeats and Stevens. But over the course of his first fifteen years as a Canadian poet, Ondaatje came to seek a less British and more American poetic. (163) Although this summary greatly oversimplifies the history of Canadian poetry, and although Bowering humorously stretches his point by baptizing Toronto's Coach House Press as the "Toronto arm of the West Coast movement" (163), his observations are useful. Billy is a Western, of course, and Ondaatje wrote the man with seven toes for performance at the Vancouver Poetry Festival. Jack Spicer's serial poem "Billy the Kid," which Ondaatje reviews as a "very good poem" in Quarry (44-5), may even have been the catalyst for Ondaatje's book. However, the trick that Ondaatje is learning to do with myth and history in Billy is very different from the one Spicer performs. Spicer's serial poem makes no attempt to tell the life story of Billy the K i d , but is rather a short history of a gay romance: Billy the Kid is apparently the only [serial poem by Spicer] drawn directly and specifically from private emotion, "the big lie of the personal." The work was written immediately after one of Spicer's friends had left him, and he was desolate. But the poem argues that erotic love is a kind of myth with the enduring powers that myths can have. (Foster 25-26)  66 Moreover, when one remembers that Yeats was one of Bowering's "favourite predecessors," and that he sometimes claims (falsely) that the name Tish came from a marginal inscription beside a Yeats poem in Ross MacDonald's The Chill (Errata 6), it becomes increasingly clear that Bowering is outlining the course of his own career. Ondaatje, on the other hand, demonstrates an obsession throughout his career with unmaking the well-made artifact. Like Stevens—who is American, as Bowering is well aware— Ondaatje displays an abiding fascination with the dualities of order and chaos. While the West Coast influences on the Toronto poet are crucial, particularly on his development of a serial poetics, the single most important influence on Ondaatje at this stage in his career is the Montreal er, Leonard Cohen. Ondaatje's only book of criticism, Leonard Cohen (1970), is a monograph on the Montreal poet's early career that deserves consideration here because it reads like the draft of an unpublished artist's statement for Ondaatje's own writing in the late 1960s and 1970s. Two things about Cohen's writing particularly interest Ondaatje: his transition from poet to novelist and the techniques that give his novels "a visual rather than a literary style" (Cohen 28). Ondaatje criticizes Cohen's first book of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956), for being "too fond of [...] an excessive poesy" that "drowns [its] objects in a rhetoric that does not really fit" (7). Ondaatje prefers Cohen's second collection, The Spice-Box of Earth (1961), which is more "concrete" in its use of language and "relies on the strict ballad form rather than the biblical rhetoric that appeared in Mythologies and was to re-emerge in Flowers for Hitler" (Cohen 19). "After The Spice-Box of Earth," Ondaatje argues, "Cohen was really becoming a novelist. The best moments in Flowers for Hitler [1964], such as the prose passages or rhetorical wit, would not seem out of place in a novel" (43-44). The Spice-Box of Earth obviously holds a special importance for Cohen as well, since he structured his first novel, The Favourite Game (1963), around its poems.  67  The Favourite Game is an imagistic, fragmented, and elliptical work that unabashedly announces the transition of a poet to prose. It opens with an epigrammatic ballad, taken from The Spice Box of Earth, and moves into a series of lyrical prose sketches that gradually expand into more conventional (albeit short) prose chapters: [T]he novel was rewritten at least five times, with the result that its descriptions, dialogue, and portraits are shaved down to an almost poetic form. The book has the effectiveness of a long prose poem, with each scene emerging as a potent and enigmatic sketch rather than a full-blown, detailed narrative. As in a poem, the silences and spaces, what is left unsaid, are essential to the mood of the book. (Ondaatje, Cohen 23) Cohen's prose style becomes more expansive in the latter half of The Favourite Game, but the presence of The Spice-Box of Earth remains strong as Cohen begins to insert passages from it directly into his novel. The alternation between poetry and prose in chapters such as 3.11 sets a precedent for the intermingling of lyrics and lyrical prose in Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter. In devising a "poetic form" that retains "the effectiveness of a long prose poem" without becoming "a formal novel," The Favourite Game blazes a path for Ondaatje's first novel: The plot-line is non-existent. We are not reading a formal novel but are looking at various episodes in the life of Breavman. We are not guided along a cohesive time sequence but are shown segments from scrapbooks, home movies, diaries— all of which flash in front of us like 'those uncertain images that were always flashing in his mind.' This style is the most fascinating and successful aspect of The Favourite Game. (Ondaatje, Cohen 24) Despite the important structural role of the ballads in The Favourite Game, however, music plays a surprisingly minor part in Breavman's life. As in Billy, the framed imagery and home movies in The Favourite Game enjoy far greater prominence in the consciousness of the artist-hero. Cohen justifies his aphoristic phrasing and fragmented staging in The Favourite Game by making constant reference to visual media, particularly film.  24  He introduces his home movie  conceit in the fourth of the early fragments: "Here is a movie filled with the bodies of his [Breavman's] family. [...] Breavman is mutilating the film in his efforts at history" (10). Cohen implicitly compares the vivid but choppy effect of his prose to the "slow-motion movie" that is  68 "always running somewhere in [Breavman's] mind" (99). Like the old-fashioned "viewer" (29) that Breavman admires because "[e]ach frame glowed with tenderness and passionate delight" (30), Cohen's cinematic style intensifies his isolated images: The most obvious quality in the style and technique of The Favourite Game is its visual or cinematic style. Each chapter is a scene, and the feeling one gets in reading the novel is not so much an insight into a character as a vision of Breavman in different poses, playing the lead in several movies. We see him in sporadic, imagistic relationships or histories. [...] We get to see only the perfect photographic image, and this is why the book appears so romantic. It is Breavman the romantic artist who connects these images. (Ondaatje, Cohen 26) However, as Ondaatje points out, it "is not just the reliance on film that gives The Favourite Game a visual rather than a literary style. Cohen constantly uses photographs, or he replays a scene, or he uses painters like Rousseau or Brueghel [the Elder] to remind him that he is part of a portrait" (Cohen 28). Rousseau is also one of Ondaatje's favourite artists, and it helps to understand Ondaatje's storyboard technique i f one knows that "Breavman loves the pictures of Henri Rousseau, the way he stops time": "Always is the word that must be used. The lion will always be sniffing the robes of the sleeping gypsy, there will be no attack, no guts on the sand: the total encounter is expressed. The moon, even though it is doomed to travel, will never go down on this scene" (Cohen, Favourite 58). Nolan, furthermore, claims that his Ned Kelly series is composed of "Kelly's own words, and Rousseau, and sunlight" (qtd. in Maclnnes 30), and his placement of freeze frames in a series sheds light on Cohen's lyrical technique: This sense of [The Favourite Game] being artistic, poetic, being 'framed,' is important because this is the way Breavman sees people—as heightened images or potent highlights of conversation. In spite of the seemingly loose form, the book is, in reality, concrete and sparse. It is a beautiful book and one returns to it several times as one returns to a photograph album. (Cohen 34) Ondaatje also explores Cohen's cinematic use of editing, soundtracks, and composition in Leonard Cohen (27). In Coming Through Slaughter, he employs all these techniques to produce a portrait of an artist, Buddy Bolden, whose legendary cornet playing was recorded on neither film nor phonograph.  69 Although Cohen took his ballads to the stage and abandoned the novel in the decades after the publication of Ondaatje's critical monograph, Cohen's technique for lyrical narrative, which "cut[s] into the natural progression of time, like a movie frozen into a single image and then released to run again" (Favourite 99), lives on in Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter. For example, the most lyrical metaphor for the treatment of time in The Favourite Game sets a precedent for the dolphin sonographs that frame Coming Through Slaughter. Discussing birdsong with his girlfriend Shell, Breavman remarks: "If you tape their whistles, Shell, and slow them down, you can hear the most extraordinary things. What the naked ear hears as one note is often in reality two or three notes sung simultaneously. A bird can sing three notes at the same time!" "I wish I could speak that way. I wish I could say twelve things at once. I wish I could say all there was to say in one word. I hate all the things that can happen between the beginning of a sentence and the end." (Favourite 169) The echo of these remarks resonates in the commentary that Ondaatje positions beneath the dolphin sonographs as an epigram to Coming Through Slaughter: Three sonographs—pictures of dolphin sounds made by a machine that is more sensitive than the human ear. The top left sonograph shows a "squawk." Squawks are common emotional expressions that have many frequencies or pitches, which are vocalized simultaneously. The top right sonograph is a whistle. Note that the number of frequencies is small and this gives a "pure" sound—not a squawk. Whistles are like personal signatures for dolphins and identify each dolphin as well as its location. The middle sonograph shows a dolphin making two kinds of signals simultaneously. The vertical stripes are echolocation clicks (sharp, multi-frequency sounds) and the dark, mountain-like humps are the signature whistles. No one knows how a dolphin makes both whistles and echolocation clicks simultaneously. (Slaughter n.p.; see Warshall 140) Despite the obvious similarities of these two passages, Ondaatje's epigram differs from the Cohen excerpt in that Ondaatje takes great pleasure in the things that can happen between the beginning of a sentence and the end. Whereas Breavman aims to counteract dissolution through greater and greater discipline, Buddy Bolden, Ondaatje's "one man avant-garde" (Solecki, "Making" 256), does "nothing but leap into the mass of changes and explore them and all the tiny facets so that eventually he [is] almost completely governed by fears of certainty"  70 (Slaughter 9). Bolden's jazz scorns "the sure lanes of the probable" (10) and delights in "showing all the possibilities in the middle of the story" (38). Hence the middle sonograph, the image of a miraculous aural hybrid, is the principal object of interest in the epigram. As with Muybridge's photograph and Huffman's letter in The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, Ondaatje uses the sonographs and commentary in Coming Through Slaughter to outline a poetics. The language in the novel, the author implies, will intermingle "common emotional expressions" in "many frequencies" (lyrics, prose poems, anecdotes) with "personal signatures" (of metaphor and symbol) while locating subjects (within the context of a historical narrative). Like the triptych of sonographs, the structure of the novel will be triadic, depicting three stages of Bolden's career in separate books. As for characterization, the sonographs (photographs of sound) allude to the key artist figures in the text, Bellocq and Bolden, and the way that Ondaatje represents them. The terms defining the dolphin language, for example, double as a vocabulary for describing Bolden's playing style. In the climactic moment when Bolden parades his "shimmy dance of victory" (131), he combines "squawks" with "slow pure notes" (131) to create "[sjquawk beats" (130) on the cornet. However, in order to achieve this synthesis, Bolden must first apprentice his understanding of art under the photographer Bellocq. The photographer teaches Bolden the usefulness of establishing a framework of the known and imbuing it with the inexplicable. Thus the sonographs represent an aural phenomenon that can be arrested, but not explained, as a visual series. Likewise, Ondaatje's portraiture in Coming Through Slaughter pivots on a double axis of visual frame-making and aural frame-breaking. The novel is ekphrastic in the sense that the prose builds out of associations with the sonographs. As Ondaatje acknowledges in his book credits, the novel is also ekphrastic in the sense that the real Bellocq's Storyville Portraits were "an inspiration of mood and character" for the author (n.p.). Like Nolan's paintings, Bellocq's photograph functions as a starting point for the author's investigation of his protagonist's  71 character and environment. In addition, Ondaatje extrapolates much of Bolden's career from a black and white print of Bolden and his band, which Ondaatje fictitiously attributes to Bellocq and situates as the frontispiece to Slaughter. Ondaatje writes in a carefully worded statement that there "is only one photograph that exists today of Bolden and the band" (63) and all the critics I have read take this statement to mean that the "picture on the title-page of Ondaatje's book is the only extant photograph of Bolden" (Maxwell 102). Bowering, for example, follows this interpretation when he raises the question of how a writer can "write a historical novel with no historical documents": Having produced a book about Billy the Kid out of sources that were mainly frontier lies, Michael Ondaatje essayed Coming Through Slaughter about Buddy Bolden, "born" at the dawn of the twentieth century, nothing saved from the multiplicity of chaos except one group photograph in which Bolden is holding a cornet in his left hand, as lots of people wish Billy had held his six-gun. ("Northward" 8) However, a careful look at the thumbnail portrait on the back cover of the Vintage edition of Coming Through Slaughter reveals that there are at least two extant photographs of Bolden. At first, the thumbnail portrait appears to be a detail from the band photograph. Bolden wears the same suit and stands in front of the same backdrop, but the picture is evidently a solo portrait, probably taken at the same sitting. No part of Bolden's body is obscured by Brock Mumford, the guitarist, and Bolden holds his trumpet vertically in his right hand, not horizontally in his left hand. Ondaatje alludes to this second photograph when he writes that Bellocq "made one more print of the group and shelved it and then one of just Bolden this time, taking him out of the company" (48). As in The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, Ondaatje plants photographs like blueprints for the deconstruction of history's singular authority. Although the artists were of different generations and racial backgrounds, Ondaatje states in his book credits that "[p]rivate and fictional magnets drew [Bellocq] and Bolden together" (n.p.). Bellocq and Bolden belonged to a world of which "there is little recorded history," and  72 what little there remains has "come down to us in fragments" (Slaughter 2). Dipping into his "pail of sub-history" (18), Ondaatje imagines the lives of two artists who, at least in the early 1970s, had been marginalized by the prevailing historical accounts. (Bellocq has since become a principal character in Louis Malle's 1978 film Pretty Baby, which draws from A l Rose's Storyville, New Orleans and other sources cited by Ondaatje in his book credits). Thus Ondaatje's fictional Bellocq is a social outcast whose only friend in the novel is Bolden. Like the "heroes" in "White Dwarfs" who "sail to that perfect edge/ where there is no social fuel" (68), Bolden and Bellocq "tal[k] for hours moving gradually off the edge of the social world. As Bellocq lived at the edge in any case he was at ease there and as Buddy did not he moved on past him like a naive explorer looking for footholds" (61). Bolden explains that Bellocq "was a photographer. Pictures. That were like . . . windows. He was the first person I met who had absolutely no interest in my music" (55). To Webb, Bolden clarifies that what he loved "were the possibilities in [Bellocq's] silence" (89).  As in The Favourite Game, and "[a]s in a poem,  the silences and spaces, what is left unsaid, are essential to the mood" of Bellocq's portraiture. These qualities contrast the photographer with the (initially) loud and gregarious bandleader, as well as with "Mr. Audubon" (159), the naturalist whose photo-realistic paintings are the antithesis of Bellocq's art. Audubon painstakingly renders every physical detail of the animals and birds he takes as his subjects, whereas Bellocq seeks to record the dream states of nude women (50). Instead of rendering absent figures as present in the manner of Audubon, Bellocq's portraiture seeks to figure absence into presence. As an artist, Bellocq attempts to see beyond the body and incorporate something intangible into his portraiture. As a sexually frustrated individual, however, Bellocq degrades his subjects and his art by fetishizing the nudes and slashing the photographs with a knife in symbolic acts of sexual penetration. Bellocq's strengths and weaknesses put him in the company of Ondaatje's other artist heroes: "Bellocq, the crippled artist who makes pictures of prostitutes, is strikingly reminiscent  73 of Toulouse-Lautrec; and like another of Ondaatje's favourite artists, Henri Rousseau, 'he even talked to his photographs he was that lonely'" (Scobie, "Fictional" 12). Ondaatje also inserts himself into this company of visual artists towards the end of the novel. The writer/historian stands on the street "where [Bolden] lived seventy years ago," and remarks: "The place of his music is totally silent. There is so little noise that I easily hear the click of my camera as I take fast bad photographs into the sun aiming at the barbershop he probably worked in" (134). Initiating his ekphrastic process, Ondaatje turns the street into "a black and white photograph, part of a history book" (136). The slippage between genres Ondaatje encourages also leads to slippage between the identities of the frame-makers. Ondaatje stares at Bolden's band photograph and it "moves and becomes a mirror," as the author feels a surge of identification with his subject: "When I read he stood in front of mirrors and attacked himself, there was the shock of memory. For I had done that. Stood, and with razor-blade cut into cheeks and forehead, shaved hair. Defiling people we did not wish to be" (134). This blurring of identities leads to a merging of technique, as Ondaatje emulates Bolden's assault on mirrors: Why did my senses stop at you? There was the sentence, "Buddy Bolden who became a legend when he went berserk in a parade . . . " What was there in that, before I knew your nation your colour your age, that made me push my arm forward and spill it through the front of your mirror and clutch myself? (135) Ondaatje the Artist thus passes through the looking-glass and enters the novel, just as Ondaatje the Kid inserted himself into the long poem through a photograph. A shared technique also unites Bellocq and Bolden. Mixing the composure of Bellocq's photographic imagery with the ecstatic rhythms of Bolden's jazz, Ondaatje represents the friendship between the two artists as an exchange of ideas, a mutual apprenticeship in composition. Bolden plays his cornet through open windows perhaps because Bellocq is Ondaatje's arch-typical frame-maker: "We were furnished rooms," Bolden states, "and Bellocq was a window looking out" (56). Bolden also has a propensity for breaking windows, and  74 Bellocq similarly unframes his creations when he slashes the portraits of prostitutes that he so carefully produces. Framing and unframing thus are united in Bellocq's aesthetic: "The making and destroying coming from the same source, same lust, same surgery his brain was capable o f (51). This sublimated violence eventually turns upon its perpetrator, and Bellocq's suicide is yet another example of (un)framing. The photographer places chairs around the perimeter of his room, then walks along the chairs lighting fire to the walls, until he is framed by the blaze. He "stands there silent, as still as possible, trying to formally breathe in the remaining oxygen" (64) until his excessive self-control turns maniac. The suffocating photographer throws himself "into the wall, only there is no wall anymore only a fire curtain and he disappears into and through it [...]. Then he falls, dissolving out of his pose. Everything has gone wrong. The wall is not there to catch or hide him. Nothing is there to clasp him into a certainty" (64). A s with Billy in the barn, accidental and unforeseen events dissolve the pose of absolute self-control. Appropriately, the news of Bellocq's suicide foreshadows Bolden's self-destructive performance in the parade. When Bolden tells Nora about the suicide, she screams at him: "Look at you. Look at what he did to you" (127). Earlier, Bolden had demonstrated Bellocq's influence to Webb by instructing the detective: "Come with me Webb I want to show you something, no come with me I want to show you something. You come too. Put your hand through this window" (89). This passage carries with it the force of repetition. It echoes the first thing Bolden says in Coming Through Slaughter, when he urges his bandmate to play louder: "Cornish, come on, put your hands through the window" (8). Two pages later, Bolden acts out the metaphor: Furious at something he drew his right hand across his body and lashed out. Half way there at full speed he realized it was a window he would be hitting and braked. For a fraction of a second his open palm touched the glass, beginning simultaneously to draw back. The window starred and crumpled slowly two floors down. His hand miraculously uncut. It had acted exactly like a whip violating the target and still free, retreating from the outline of a star. [Nora] was delighted by the performance. (10)  75 These (un)framing metaphors accumulate until they reach an explosive density in the fight scene between Bolden and Pickett. The combatants throw fragments of shattered mirror at each other, break the barbershop window, pass through its "empty frame" (72) and land in the street, where the rain falls "like so many little windows" (72). Chaos (Bolden) triumphs over the fence (Pickett), but at the same time Bolden passes through the liminal space between genius and madness. "Locked inside the frame, boiled down in love and anger into that dynamo that cannot move except on itself (110), Bolden shines brilliantly in the parade and then goes silent. The black jazzman becomes a white dwarf, one of "those burned out stars / who implode into silence / after parading in the sky" ("White Dwarfs"). In the interval between the fight and the parade, however, Bolden achieves his stylistic breakthrough. Brock Mumford describes Bolden's breakthrough as he watches the cornetist play through the broken barbershop window. Mumford's musical ear and peculiar viewpoint combine to shape an impression reminiscent of the middle sonograph of the triptych that began the novel: Thought I knew his blues before, and the hymns at funerals, but what he is playing now is real strange and I listen careful for he's playing something that sounds like both. I cannot make out the tune and then I catch on. He's mixing them up. He's playing the blues and the hymn sadder than the blues and then the blues sadder than the hymn. That is the first time I heard hymns and blues cooked up together. (78) This blues hymn is called a reel, a fusion of the secular and the spiritual that parallels the fusion of journalism and hagiography in Ondaatje's portrait of Bolden. The reel inspires Mumford to imagine himself dancing with prostitutes and then humming in church, because the "picture kept changing with the music" (78). Not only is the musical frame of reference broken, but it is also constantly shifting. Bolden therefore contrasts his improvisational style with the waltzes of John Robichaux, who "dominated his audiences. He put his emotions into patterns which a listening crowd had to follow" (91). "Robichaux's arches" (92) made "[e]very note part of the large curve,  76  so carefully patterned" that the "mind mov[ed] ahead of the instruments in time and wait[ed] with pleasure for them to catch up" (91). Although Bolden reluctantly admits that he sometimes "enjoy[s] listening to the clear forms" (91) of his arch-nemesis, the jazzman asserts that the "right ending is an open door you can't see too far out o f (92). Like Billy, Bolden leaves the door open, but resists going all the way outside. For the duration of his playing career, Bolden remains "one footstep before formlessness." To be more precise, Bolden's jazz is not a "free-form music" (Hutcheon, Canadian 48), but an improvisational style that frees itself from form in an ongoing fashion. This antagonism towards preset form also defines Bolden's relationship to Cornish, the trombone player in his band "who played the same note the same way every time who was our frame our diving board that we leapt off, the one we sacrificed so he could remain the overlooked metronome" (111). Like Billy, Bolden incorporates frameworks into his art only to counter them, as Frank Lewis explains: But there was a discipline, it was just that we didn't understand. We thought he was formless, but I think now he was tormented by order, what was outside it. He tore apart the plot—see his music was immediately on top of his own life. Echoing. As if, when he was playing he was lost and hunting for the right accidental notes. (32) As this monologue progresses, it begins to paraphrase "The Gate in His Head." The prose descriptions recall the poem's "sense of shift," its shapeless bird "moving to the clear," and its 26  epistolary conversation with Victor Coleman: Listening to [Bolden] was like talking to Coleman. You were both changing direction with every sentence, sometimes in the middle, using each other as a springboard through the dark. You were moving so fast it was unimportant to finish and clear everything. (32-3) To demonstrate this point, Coming Through Slaughter concludes without clearing up all the questions surrounding Bolden's final years.  77 As in The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, the conclusion of Coming Through Slaughter  portrays the writer ceasing to write. The scene is brief and haunting as "figurative images of corners, rooms, and broken windows become the literal room of the author" (Wart 25): I sit with this room. With the grey walls that darken into corner. And one window with teeth in it. Sit so still you can hear your hair rustle in your shirt. Look away from the window when clouds and other things go by. Thirty-one years old. There are no prizes. {Slaughter 160) Locked inside these architectural frames, the author seems to follow Bolden into white dwarflike silence. Although the writer's loneliness and stillness recall Bellocq at his suicide, Ondaatje stresses his connection to Bolden by rehearsing the final scene twice in Bolden's voice. Bolden first articulates the "cornered" theme while he is secluded in Webb's cabin: "Here. Where I am anonymous and alone in a white room with no history and no parading. So I can make something unknown in the shape of this room. Where I am King of Corners" (83). Later, Bolden improvises a lyric on this theme, in which the repetitions of "corner" produce mindwandering associations with cornet (life) and coroner (death). The fourth repetition of "corner" also forces the rhyme scheme to depart from the AAB pattern of the twelve-bar blues: In the room there is the air and there is the corner and there is the corner and there is the corner and there is the corner. If you don't shake, don't get no cake. (148) The altered blues rhythms of thisfinalline—also the title of the song (17)—underscore the necessity of improvising exits from the labyrinth of pattern. There is something pernicious about the way the corners multiply their sense of order, and indeed, in the asylum, Bolden is regularly raped by orderlies. However, just as Bolden submits wordlessly to these rapes, the author seems to be overwhelmed by the effort of constant improvisation in the final scene of the novel. The frames that he has manipulated throughout the story close in on him and he manages one final assertion of uncertainty— "There are no prizes"—before abruptly falling silent. This sudden  78 silence does not achieve closure by tying up the various narrative threads in the novel and proffering the reader a neat package of resolutions. As in Billy, Ondaatje avoids closure by blurring the pronominal distinction between author and protagonist and leaves the reader wondering whether the room with the window is Bolden's cell or Ondaatje's study. The suddenness of this ending recalls the mood of the serial poem, which, according to Blaser, "is often like a series of rooms where the lights go on and off. It is also a sequence of energies which burn out, and it may, by the path it takes, include the constellated" ("Practice" 278). But does a constellated series qualify as a novel? Coming Through Slaughter won the Books in Canada award for the best first novel in  1976, but during its writing Ondaatje insisted that it is not a novel: "Right now I'm working on some prose but if I mention it people say that I'm working on a novel and I'm not. To me the novel is a 100 yard hurdles which you have to plan, prepare, etc. And what I'm doing doesn't have a preformed shape" ("1975 Interview" 26). Rather, the shape is performed, as Ondaatje learns to write in cadences that echo the style of music that Bolden is reputed to have played. Like Bolden, Ondaatje aims "to overcome th[e] awful and stupid clarity" (Slaughter 99) of generic convention by learning "not craft but to play a mood of sound I would recognize and remember. Every note new and raw and chance" (93-4). Because Bolden mixes blues and hymns to create jazz, Ondaatje cooks up as many generic ingredients together as possible to produce a text that he called, at its launch, "soup" ("1984 Interview" 324). Ondaatje frequently changes the time signatures of the narrative, inserts historical documents, and replays scenes to disrupt any sense of linear narrative and do justice to a musician whose "whole plot of song [is] covered with scandal and incident and change" (Slaughter 38). This narrative style also befits a musical form that "is the enemy of plot, that square space, and is the limitless ground" (Maxwell 108). However, although Ondaatje writes himself towards his jazz ideal, it is once again a mistake to identify the author completely with his protagonist. Despite the merging of artistic  79 identities that Ondaatje imagines, important differences remain between the writer and musician. The structure of Bolden's music is "[n]ever repeated" {Slaughter 94), whereas Ondaatje's text is carefully patterned with images of windows that get broken and mirrors that get shattered. Paradoxically, these symbols of disorder structure Ondaatje's text and give it continuity in place of a stable narrator, linear plot, or consistent tone. From start to finish, the broken frame provides, in spite of itself, the formal coherence demanded by the designation "novel," which is a term that I believe applies to this work even though Ondaatje rejects it. As Bowering observes, Slaughter "works by recurrence rather than progression" ("Northward" 10), and the broken frame (like Cornish's metronomic trombone) functions as a vehicle of the order that the artist simultaneously challenges. Ondaatje was conscious of ordering the text ("1984 Interview" 327), but the trope of the broken frame underscores the impermanence of both order and disorder. For the romantic artist, the imperative to create frames of reference is matched in force by the desire to transcend them. Thus, Bolden's character develops, but his development is a dissipation. The jazzman's portrait emerges out of a photograph, but that photograph is torn apart by the author's manipulation of history. Stylistically, descriptive prose is initially the dominant genre in the text, but it yields to lyrics, monologues, catalogues of research data, and oral interviews. Indeed, Scobie remains "uneasy about calling Coming Through Slaughter a novel": Like Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers (a book to which it bears more than a passing resemblance), it is a "novel" in which the real action takes place at the level of the poetic image. In Ondaatje's case, many of these images are extensions or parallels of images that he has used in his poetry, and it is impossible to discuss Coming Through Slaughter without reference to Ondaatje's other books, especially Rat Jelly. ("Fictional" 5-6) Certainly, lyrics such as "King Kong Meets Wallace Stevens," "Spider Blues," "The Gate in His Head,'" and "White Dwarfs" (all from Rat Jelly) supply image patterns that shape Coming  80 Through Slaughter. However, like Cohen in Beautiful Losers, Ondaatje is also "dynamiting the delicate poetic imagery of his past" (Cohen 49) through his experiments in prose. The intermingling of poetry and prose in Coming Through Slaughter, as well as the relentlessly fragmented quality of the writing, compel Hutcheon to consider the novel as a song cycle: "If Billy is more overtly a poetic song-cycle, Coming Through Slaughter (the story of a jazz musician whose unwritten and unrecorded music lives on ironically in Ondaatje's printed fragments) is also appropriately structured in this musical way" (Canadian 84). In addition to the numerous refrains in Slaughter, Ondaatje indicates the musical value of the text by fashioning found poems out of song titles (17) and band names (105), as well as devoting separate pages to the unrecorded lyrics of Bolden's songs (11, 82). Given Ondaatje's enthusiasm for blues and jazz, it is also likely that the motif of the window derives from the lyrics of "Buddy Bolden's Blues," a song popularized by Jelly Roll Morton (and played by a Morton look-alike in Pretty Baby):  27  I thought I heard Buddy Bolden shout Open up that window and let that bad air out Open up that window and let the foul air out I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say (my line breaks) Morton's lyrics complement the testimony that Ondaatje cites from the chaplain of the East Louisiana State Hospital, who notes that Bolden had a "tendency to go to a window to play to [the] outside world" (Slaughter 139). Evidently, Ondaatje constructs his song cycle around this "dictated" detail. Ondaatje also embeds a song cycle within his song cycle by performing several variations on the phrase, "Passing wet chicory that lies in the field like sky" (57). The phrase initially appears in isolation on its own page, but Heighton observes that the "use of the relatively uncommon dactylic foot and strong assonance (chicory/field, lie/like/sky) suggest the line's musical nature" (241). The emphatic first stress of the dactylic line is a feature of African  81 percussive traditions in music such as calypso and funk, and Ondaatje builds on its driving rhythm to produce "Train Song" (82). This song reconfigures the original dactylic line, converting "field" to the plural to underscore the variations being performed. The plural "fields," Kamboureli argues, designates both the "geographical field and the field of language" ("Poetics" 119). She maintains that language "creat[es] its own terrain: 'lies' becomes highly ambiguous; 'like' can be read both as an adverb and as a verb; the simile is transformed into a metaphor, 'passing wet sky chicory,' finally to become something more than a metaphor, a riddle that brings into question the meaning of language" ("Poetics" 119). This riddle grows more complicated towards the conclusion of the novel when Bolden takes the train through Slaughter and the phrase makes its final appearance (141). At this point, the fields return to being a field and the dactylic line that became a song has been transformed into a prose fragment. These transformations of the refrain, as well as the title of the novel, raise the question of whether the entire book has been a series of variations on the emotional moment when Bolden takes the train through Slaughter. If so, the linearity of the train ride once again contrasts with the meanderings of the song cycle. The narrative does not derail: it is a derailment. Although the tracks from Storyville to the insane asylum are straight, the artist flourishes for as long as he can veer off, circle back, and forestall his unwelcome end. Such digressive and circumlocutionary narrative Kroetsch describes as a "method, then, and then, and then, of composition; against the 'and then' of story" ("Play" 120). Although Kroetsch intended these remarks for the long poem, Ondaatje has clearly transferred the narrative style he developed in his long poems to Coming Through Slaughter. With the Booker Prize that followed the publication of The English Patient, and the Academy Awards that followed its film adaptation, Ondaatje's fame as a novelist greatly overshadowed his reputation as a poet. However, the verse origins of his prose style are unmistakable. Even Anil's Ghost (2000), which Ondaatje claims he wrote "in a different kind of  82 way than the way [he]'d written the earlier books," so that the language was "not too heightened," the effect not "too formal" ("2000 Interview" 15), and the narrative "full of [the] possibility of plot," has inspired an American reviewer to exclaim: Michael Ondaatje breaks the rules. He forces the novel to do things it isn't supposed to do and he gets away with it. [...] The Sri Lankan-born Ondaatje is a poet, and he throws himself headlong at beautiful sentences, revelatory scenes, larger-than-life moments. He treats plot as i f it were a line of verse: What's important is that it scan and swell, not that it ticktock along with the weary world. (Kamiya) Framing narrative in the fragmented and lyrical manner he developed during his work on the long poem, Ondaatje breaks the rules of the novel and invigorates its sentence structure with the sensibility of poetry. At the same time, by converting visual series into song cycles, Ondaatje's early narratives, like those of Cohen, create an effect similar to the popular entertainments of Muybridge's day, in which "photographic narratives [were] told by a series of stereocards and photographs" (Sheldon 14). Judging by this pattern in the architecture of Ondaatje's narratives, the "great change in what 'structure' is in a poem or in a novel" (Ondaatje, "1984 Interview" 322) has to do with serializing the lyric in order to expand its temporal scope, multiply its points of view, and produce what Bowering calls the "serial novel," which is the subject of the next chapter.  83 CHAPTER 3 George Bowering: (Un)framing the Serial Novel Writing is not parallel it is serial. (Bowering, Short 140) Bowering redefines the term "serial novel" (Short 139) in his trilogy, Autobiology (1972), Curious (1973), and A Short Sad Book (1977). The term conventionally refers to a novel published in installments with cliffhanger chapter endings. These novels, which achieved considerable popularity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, take part in "a continuous negotiation between producer and reader in which the final form and content is largely determined by a commercial transaction" (Myers and Harris vii). Their populist means of distribution (as segments in journals and newspapers) established a broad and regular readership, thus reducing the financial risk of publishing a new work and increasing the number of book titles in circulation (Brake 84). Bowering plays with this legacy in his novels by periodically interrupting the narrative to assess its progress and address the reader; by composing Autobiology, Curious, and A Short Sad Book as a trilogy on his development as a poet-novelist; and by dramatizing the struggles of a small literary press in A Short Sad Book. However, Bowering does not confine his use of the term "serial" to the historical sense outlined above. He rejects the realist novel and its promise of a window onto a parallel world because he is suspicious of what he perceives as an instrumental use of language, as well as the alleged causal inevitability of the realist plot. Instead of the plot-driven realist serial, Bowering develops a prose form based on the serial poems of Jack Spicer and Robin Blaser, which "refusje] to adopt an imposed storyline" (Blaser, "Fire" 237) and create a narrative through series of poems (predominantly lyrics) that develop recursively around motifs. The serial poem, an essential poetic form for Bowering, appears regularly in Bowering oeuvre from the mid-1960s onwards, beginning with Baseball, a Poem in the Magic Number Nine (1967), which is dedicated to Spicer, and including Allophanes (1976), which Bowering wrote during the course  84 of 26 lectures by Blaser. However, unlike Spicer and Blaser, Bowering has also adapted the literary strategies of the serial poem to the novel. This chapter will explore how Bowering frames Autobiology, Curious, and A Short Sad Book according to the logic of the serial poem and unframes the serial poem George, Vancouver to create a historical novel. Like many avant-garde writers, Bowering has experimented with numerous literary genres and styles. The broad outline generally painted of his career depicts him as a lyric poet in the 1960s, a serial poem writer in the 1970s, and a prose writer in the 1980s, although Eva-Marie Kroller notes that such major works as Kerrisdale Elegies (1984) fall outside of this paradigm (Bright 115). In fact, Bowering published in all three genres in each decade, and he continued this pattern in the 1990s. None the less, Bowering's prevailing interests map important transitions in his development as a writer. At first, he embraced the lyric, only to grow wary of its subjectivity; next he became interested in the epic, but deplored its treatment of history; several times he tried his hand at the novel, but was dissatisfied with the language of his early attempts at naturalism and realism. The serial novel thus presents itself as a means of reconciling Bowering's attraction to, and rejection of, these approaches to writing. The serial novel is a hybrid form, capable of accommodating the linguistic and formal pyrotechnics of the lyric and long poem, while sustaining the narrative dimension of the novel. Unlike Ondaatje, Bowering did not move in a more or less linear fashion from lyric to long poem to novel. In his late teens, the "burning novelist from the [Okanagan] Valley" (Piccolo 52) was "more interested in writing prose fiction than [he] was in writing poetry" and his style resembled "James T. Farrell naturalism" ("1976 Interview" 81). However, Bowering's early novel, Delsing, was rejected by publishers (Kroller, Bright 116). His next novel, Mirror on the Floor, was published in 1967, but by then he had already published four volumes of lyric poetry: Sticks & Stones (1962), Points on the Grid (1964), The Man in Yellow Boots (1965), and  The Silver Wire (1966). The lyric thus won Bowering his first success as a writer, and although  85 he has spumed and derided the form, it retains a central place in his repertoire. Most importantly, Bowering's poetic affiliations in the 1960s aligned him with a group of writers, many of whom would become friends and peers for the rest of his career. Along with Frank Davey, Fred Wah, James Reid, and David Dawson, Bowering helped publish a poetry newsletter, Tish, from September 1961 to March 1963. The monthly newsletter—which was later co-edited by Daphne Buckle (Marlatt)—grew out of a literary group in the Creative Writing and English Departments at the University of British Columbia, but it created a community of Vancouver writers by encouraging submissions from promising local poets such as David Bromige and Roy Kiyooka, and by mailing issues free of charge to subscribers (who were requested to donate contributions). Tish offered the young poets a forum for publishing new poems and debating poetics. It also answered the demand for a Canadian journal receptive to the poetics associated with the Black Mountain Review (1954-57), which published avant-garde American poets such as William Carlos Williams, Denise Levertov, and Allen Ginsberg. This review showcased the postmodernist aesthetics emerging out of Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where Charles Olson was rector and Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan taught in the 1950s. The very name of Tish bears the stamp of this influence, as Bowering explains in one of his versions of the Tish story: When a bunch of us tyros was considering starting a monthly poetry newsletter, our regular mentor, Warren Tallman, cautioned caution, but Duncan, a guest in Tallman's house, told us to go ahead. What'll we call it, we wondered. Should we call it something like The Vancouver Poetry Newsletter? In the doorway between the front hall and the living room at 2527 West 37th Avenue, Duncan said, "Call it Tish." (Magpie 209) The scatological connotations of Tish (an anagram of "Shit") underscore the collective's anti29  establishment irreverence, but they also suited the group's admiration for Charles Olson: "Olsonites, we jokingly called ourselves. Olsonite was the brand name for a toilet seat, but we were confident enough about where we stood" (Bowering, Magpie 26). Jokes aside, the Tish  86 poets were extremely serious about Olson's theory of poetry as an energy discharge, and they formed a study group to discuss his 1950 essay, "Projective Verse." Bowering claims that Olson introduced the term "postmodern" to the Tish poets ("Vancouver" 121) as a guest lecturer at U B C in 1963. He also credits Olson with steering the young poets away from the Eurocentric bias of Eastern Canadian poetry: Olson told us to dig exhaustively into our local concerns. We began to do so, and the geography, history, and economics of Vancouver became the grid of our poetry. In the late 1960s and the 1970s, xenophobic critics and professors in Ontario accused us of selling out the "Canadian Tradition" to U.S. American interests. The latter would include Charles Olson and the anti-Vietnamese war machine. They started calling us Black Mountain poets. I dont know any Canadian poets who ever went to North Carolina. (Magpie 27) This East/West dichotomy does not quite work because, at the same conference where Bowering pledged his allegiance to Olson, he was so impressed with Ginsberg's reading of Percy Bysshe Shelley that he resolved to "start poetry all over again, with Shelley on the first page" (Magpie 72). Moreover, the irony involved in students embracing the ideas of a visiting American professor on counter-imperialism and adopting his theories of the local has been interpreted as treason by many Canadian critics, including Keith Richardson, who wrote Poetry and the Colonized Mind: Tish (1976), and Robin Mathews, who contributed a preface to Richardson's -> A  work and attacked Bowering in his own articles (Mathews).  Although Bowering now resents  the identification of the Tish group with the Black Mountain poets, the connection is wellestablished—and not only because Bowering discovered that there is a Black Mountain north of Vancouver. David Dawson writes in an editorial for Tish 20 that the editors "print poems that work the way we think a poem should work, our debt, stated or otherwise, to the so-called Black Mountain group, is obvious" (5). Davey did his doctoral dissertation on the "Theory and Practice in the Black Mountain Poets" (1968) and, in other contexts, Bowering explicitly aligns himself with the figureheads of American modernism and postmodernism. Although an Olsonite, he maintains that his "personal model in the early sixties was H.D." (Magpie 193). He  87 also considers himself "the imaginary son of W C W and nephew of Denise Levertov and cousin of Ron Silliman" (201), as well as being one of a group of "Vancouver poets [who] might loosely be said to descend from Robert Duncan" ("Ondaatje" 163). Blaser, Spicer and Creeley— who lectured at U B C from 1962-63 and was Bowering's teacher—also occupy prominent T 1  positions on this family tree.  Taken together, these poets are not a very compatible group, but  Bowering picks and chooses his influences according to his purposes at a given moment. Such a broad range of American mentors contrasts sharply with the limited influence of Canadian authors on Bowering's early poetics, as well as on that of the Tish group: Well, when the whole Tish thing was happening, we were people who had been deracinated—we didn't get any Canadian writing at school in B.C. Most of the people in Tish—Fred Wah and Frank Davey—didn't know anything about Canadian poetry. The only people that knew of Canadian poetry were Lionel Kearns and I, who got together before the Tish stuff happened anyway. Lionel had been an exchange student in Quebec and he brought back the Contact Press books and I read them in one of those cabins in the dorms. Souster, Layton, Dudek, D.G. Jones, Milton Acorn and all those guys. I hadn't even thought about Canadian poetry. I didn't even think about thinking about Canadian poetry. ("1976 Interview" 81) Bowering's commentary on the curriculum here is not quite accurate, and he chooses to overlook the presence of Earle Birney, who founded the Creative Writing Department at U B C in the mid32  1960s, and whose long narrative poem David (1942) was by then a canonical work. Bowering's views on Canadian literary history are often selective and subject to change. For example, in a 1976 interview with Caroline Bayard and Jack David, Bowering praises Layton's "Laughter in the Mind—oh, a great book, and I was reading Dudek's East of the City— fantastic" (81). However, only three years earlier, he had ridiculed Layton and Dudek in Curious and portrayed Jones as too busy with family to write (n.p.). Generally, only Souster escapes Bowering's derision: "I probably got more out of Souster than I did out of the other guys, that is the short lyric poem that I wrote a thousand o f ("1976 Interview" 81). The long poem "Sousterre" in Smoking Mirror (1982) acknowledges this debt to Souster's lyricism, albeit in an  88 "underground" manner: Bowering's series begins with an epigraph by E.E. Greengrass, one of Bowering's pseudonyms. None the less, in the new millennium, Bowering has warmed to the idea of having Canadian predecessors and he now claims that the Contact Press poets were "the signal of the new" for his generation of young Canadians (Magpie 200).  33  I have noted the influence of the Tish, Black Mountain, and Contact Press poets because they play an active role in Bowering's early publications. Bowering dedicated his first collection of poems, Sticks & Stones (1963), to "Robert Duncan/ —the man who teaches/ people to listen" (n.p.), and had it printed as "part of a projected series of chapbooks, Tishbooks, to be published by the first Tish collective of writers" (Miki, "Real" 55). However, fewer than 30 draft copies were circulated privately before Contact Press accepted Bowering's manuscript for Points on the Grid (1964), which included many of the poems from Sticks & Stones. Talonbooks reissued Sticks & Stones in 1989, including the original companion drawings by Gordon Payne and the preface by Creeley, but no large-scale printing occurred before then. The early poems are perhaps most notable for their use of parataxis and the ampersand. They layer image upon image and record the metonymic correspondences of what Duncan calls "rime." Bowering tells Bayard and David that he is "crazy about rime, see, so what I'm paying attention to is not trying to render some other experience with the writing itself and seeing what happens from point to point" (90).  34  Forever contrasting a poetics of representation and a poetics  of process, Bowering documents the interaction of his mind and body with his environment and favours techniques that promote a sense of becoming, as opposed to being, in his poetry: "Form, then, in this practice is alive and difficult of access because it is not before or after the fact of the writing, but within it. That is to say, the movement of life into language [...] is not formulaic or expected. It is perhaps a surprise" (Blaser, "George" 10). Creeley's slogan, adopted by Olson and Bowering, expresses this sense of process: "Form is never more than an extension of  89 content." Creeley later amended this statement to produce the succinct declaration, "Form is what happens" ("Interview" 286), which nicely summarizes Bowering's early poetics. Bowering's second collection, Points on the Grid, expands on this preoccupation with movement and process, as the title poem indicates: The man's life a series of points strung into a wavering line on the graph his grid of action. (66) Bowering examines the strategies and media of observation throughout this collection, but the grid metaphor of the title poem suggests a Cartesian point of view that Bowering would later question. It also recalls Bowering's years as an R C A F aerial photographer, and Bowering would grow wary of this "god's eye" view for the same reason he rejected the military.  35  "Taking Pictures," a poem from the series "Four Jobs" in West Window (1982), expresses Bowering's reservations about the purpose of his military photographs and film footage: I used a screwdriver to open a little door in the aluminum wing of a cold airplane. I opened the sixteen millimetre movie camera screwed there, took out a cassette of negative film, & stuck in a new one [...] It was always a movie of one thing, a target. (141) The cameraman's privileged vantage point here is analogous to that of the lyric poet who targets his or her subjects through a formal aperture and then captures their images. This vantage point becomes the object of Bowering's criticisms in subsequent publications, where he strives to "edit out any verse that seem[s] to be peering thru a crenel at the passing show" {Catch n.p.). For example, in "Brown Globe," Bowering criticizes the detached and aestheticized perspective of "pure poetry": If this is confession it is crooked, it is not as valid as pure poetry, I once wrote pure poetry till the bombs fell on Asia,  90 but that is an evasion, isnt it? Isnt it that I have to write letters to publishers instead of to angels? (Flesh 16) Bowering searches for an evasive poetics here, as opposed to an invasive one, even as he condemns (in a glancing fashion) the U.S. military and invokes Rilke's address to the "angelic/ orders" (5) in the Duino Elegies. Uncomfortable with the imperial stance "of a poetic self intent only on expressing its own centrality," Bowering "did not simply go on honing a style and polishing a signature [...]. The singular lyric poem characteristic of his first volumes of poetry gave way to the extended form, to what Bowering would call (taking the term from Jack Spicer and Robin Blaser) the 'serial' poem" (Miki, "Editor" 232). The serial poem provides a means for the author to explore the complexity of phenomena because it registers how phenomena shift over a number of exposures and from a variety of vantage points. In 1964 Bowering established the journal Imago "expressly for long poems and shorter poems, because at that time there werent (m)any magazines that printed long poems" ("1991 Statement" 351). Although Imago grew out of Bowering's Tish experience, it signaled a shift in his formal concerns as an editor and writer, as he explains: "That long poem business, of starting the magazine, was naturally contemporaneous with my wanting to write long poems myself. Saying, OK, I've written all these lyrics, I've got to do something else" ("1976 Interview" 92). Bowering claims not to "recall having held any great theories about the long poem" ("1991 Statement" 351), but, like Tish, this letter was not entirely open.  36  He did not want "just  anybody's long poems, but the long poems in our context" ("1976 Interview" 85)—that is, serial poems. Bowering's introductory editorial states that Imago is intended "for the long poem, the series or set, the sequence, swathes from giant work in progress, long life pains eased into print" (Imago 1 2). Bowering published Duncan beside Davey (Imago 2) and Olson beside Kearns (Imago 7) while flatly rejecting any nationalist claims to the genre: "I know, I have heard, that the long poem is somehow normal to Canada. Well, Dryden me no Drydens, Pope me no Popes"  91 ("1991 Statement" 351). Indeed, Bowering maintains that he started Imago because he "noticed that in the United States all the good Modernist poets, all the Imagist poets, went ahead and made the long poem their main life's work. The Cantos. The War Trilogy. Patterson. A. Lifting Belly" (351). However, this "symphonic period" (Flesh 8) in Bowering's career also marks a broadening of his poetic interests. The move to the long poem places him in a larger continuum than the legacy of American (post)modernism. For example, alluding to George, Vancouver, Bowering observes that in "the eighteenth century the important verse is found in long poems. Among the Romantics and the Victorians the reputations were made on long poems of heroic visionary voyages" (351). The thematic breadth of the long poem seems to have forced him to come to terms with the obvious: the Britishness of British Columbia and the Englishness of his language. In 1967, Bowering began a Ph.D. dissertation on Shelley at the University of Western Ontario in London. He abandoned this project a year later in order to accept a position at Sir George Williams University (Concordia) in Montreal, but it influenced the Romantic theories of the imagination set forth in George, Vancouver and Burning Water. However, Bowering's work as an editor preceded his work as a writer, and he would publish two more collections of short lyrics before producing his first serial poem, Baseball (1967). In 1965, Bowering published The Man in Yellow Boots, a collection of lyrics preoccupied with the escalating military tensions of the Cold War. The title recalls the fact that Bowering spraypainted his boots bright yellow while he was in the Canadian military, but he directs his irreverent wit primarily at the American military in his poems. Although Bowering retains his love of jazz and Hollywood Westerns, his growing disillusionment with American politics manifests itself here in poems such as as "Vox Crapulous (alternative title: J. Edgar Hoover)" (Yellow 32-34) and in the reprinted letters to the book's editors: "What are the Americans going to do now a country [China] they dont recognize has detonated the Bomb? They'll have to keep it a secret from America, or walk around wondering, where did that noise  92 come from? It cdnt have come from that part of Asia because there aint no country there" (Yellow 98). The publication of The Man in Yellow Boots coincided with the official American invasion of Vietnam, and Bowering's youthful enthusiasm for the U.S. would steadily turn to disenchantment in this and subsequent publications. Although he would continue to side with American countercultural figures such as Ginsberg, his disdain for American military ambitions became a standard theme in his writing from this point on: for example, in the serial poem At War with the U.S. (1974) and the "Vietnam & Other Wars" section of Seventy-One Poems for People (1985).  37  Intimations of Bowering's move to the serial poem are already present in The Man with Yellow Boots. Bowering gives the looming threat of nuclear holocaust particular poignancy by juxtaposing his lyrics with a series of collages by the Japanese-Canadian artist Roy Kiyooka. Unlike the drawings by Gordon Payne in Sticks & Stones, which are interspersed between the poems and meant to complement or illustrate them,  Kiyooka insisted that his series "be  included in the book in one solid block and not be scattered throughout the book" (Bowering Papers, N L ) .  39  The poems and photography series represent two distinct meditations on a theme  which are juxtaposed within the text. For example, the split oval in Kiyooka's first collage juxtaposes a mushroom cloud with a headless torso, conjuring formal associations with the split atom and connecting thematically to such Bowering poems as "Her Act Was a Bomb" (38) and "The Good Prospects," "writ on the occasion of the Moscow test ban treaty meeting" (52). On a broader level, the collage series foreshadows the future direction of Bowering's poetry and underscores the importance of visual art to Bowering's craft. In George Bowering: Bright Circles of Colour, Eva-Marie Kroller argues persuasively that Bowering's designs are heavily influenced by his friendships and collaborations with Canadian visual artists.  40  The starting point for Kroller's book is Bowering's dedication of  Another Mouth (1979) to "three artists who have graced my life, illuminated my imagination, &  93 talkt my year off: Greg Curnoe, Roy Kiyooka, & Brian Fisher." Kroller goes beyond these three figures to examine Bowering's connections to Jack Chambers (who contributed the drawing of "Man and Dog" to the cover of Ondaatje's the man with seven toes), Guido Molinari, and others, but the three dedicatees have a particularly prominent role in shaping Bowering's poetics, as he acknowledges in the Bayard/David interview: I hang out with painters in every city I go to, for some reason. Roy Kiyooka and Brian Fisher are two of my best friends in Vancouver. I think painters tend to talk more than poets do; poets tend not to talk about their art too much with each other, very seldom. But painters who have been quiet all day long, want to talk about serious things when they finish. (88) Among these artists, Kiyooka's influence deserves particular consideration here because he is the oldest friend of the three. Like Spicer, Kiyooka thinks of the book a unit of composition, but 41  his manner of composing is different from that of the American serial poet. Although he shares Bowering's enthusiasm for Spicer, Duncan, and Olson, and puts a copy of The Poetics of the New American Poetry (Allen) in his photography series in "Pacific Windows" (n.p.), Kiyooka's background in the visual arts leads him to a different interpretation of the serial form. He rejects the notion that serial poems are completely open in form and likes to establish certain parameters for his poems which give them a recurring architecture. Bowering follows this example by working ekphrastically from the 38 cards of the Geneva tarot deck in Geneve, using the border of a single page to frame his literary portraits in Curious, and limiting his composition time to the duration of a Blaser lecture in Allophanes. In A Short Sad Book, to cite an example that resonates with the conclusion of Coming Through Slaughter, the stops of the Yonge Street subway remind one character "of a serial poem" (167), because he sees radical difference framed by recurring architectural forms. These forms establish a framework by which the reader judges the differences among the discontinuous segments. Such limiting practices are in place from Bowering's very first serial poem, Baseball, a poem in the magic number 9 (1967). This poem responds to Spicer's opening injunction in  94 "Seven Poems for the Vancouver Festival": "Start with a baseball diamond high/ In the Runcible Mountain wilderness" (259). Acknowledging his literary debt, Bowering dedicates the poem to Spicer (who died shortly after lecturing in Vancouver in 1965) and celebrates their favourite sport: I knew an old man in San Francisco came to life when the Dodgers were in town. Now he is dead, too, & Jack is dead, & the soldiers play baseball in Asia, where there is no season, no season's end. (Baseball 29) On one hand, Bowering praises the exuberance of Spicer's serial technique by comparing it to the endless summer of America's favourite pastime. On the other hand, the spectre of American 42  imperialism looms over this passage as the soldiers play baseball in Asia. Perhaps for this reason, Bowering marks off his literary territory and signals his difference from Spicer by establishing limits to the reach of his poem. Baseball appears in nine sections, limiting its scope to nine innings of varying but not disproportionate length. Instead of creating a segmented form that is conducive to enlargement—the "to be continued" of Spicer's beloved T V serials— Bowering establishes a temporal or spatial limit ahead of time and plays against that limit. At the same time, because Bowering considers himself doubly colonized in B C , he resists the limitations that he feels are placed upon him by the Eastern Canadian literary establishment, as well as by the northern ethos of the Dominion: the Mounties, nuts, they are Dominicans of the North dusky smiling on the lucky number souvenir program, where I no longer write mystic scorekeeper numbers in the little squares, sophisticate of baseball now, I've seen later famous players here. (25) For Bowering, as a product of the hot and dry Okanagan Valley, baseball has always represented his resistance to the cultural dictates of hockey-mad Eastern Canada. Bowering's views on  95 baseball also allegorize his opinions on postmodernism (Imaginary 47), reading (Magpie 99107), and, in this case, his refusal to write short lyrics ("mystic scorekeeper numbers in the little squares") to please anthologists in the East. Bowering thus embraces the American game and poetic genre in order to become more local. The situation is contradictory but, like Whitman, Bowering would say: "Do I contradict myself?/ Very well then . . . . I contradict myself (96). Of course, Whitman makes this statement in "Song of M y s e l f because he is "large" and "contain[s] multitudes" (96), whereas Bowering implies it because he feels constrained regional, national, and genre expectations. Yet he also finds creative inspiration in resisting these pressures, and it is therefore appropriate that Bowering wrote a critique of Albertan culture in Rocky Mountain Foot (1968) while teaching in Calgary, and then started a serial poem on the colonial exploits of George Vancouver while beginning a Ph.D. in London, Ontario. In Rocky Mountain Foot, Bowering intermingles lyrics with quotations from Alberta road signs, newspapers, geological surveys, and other found materials in order to step out from behind his crenel and engage with the passing show. As Bowering makes clear in his critique of Ondaatje's early lyrics, he desires "a world rather than a picture of one" ("Ondaatje" 165), and collage provides him the means of creating a stereophonic impression in the reading, as well as a panoramic impression on the page. Clearly influenced by Kiyooka and their friend bill bissett —who, as a painter and poet, is interested in "vizual wri