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Dirty Semiotics
Jesse Patrick Ferguson
November 2011
visual poetry
8.5" x 5.5", tpb, 95 pp
ISBN 978-1-55391-107-4, $16

This is fun, compelling and challenging work that, above all, embraces some serious play.
—rob mclennan, Advent Book Blog

Jesse Patrick Ferguson’s Dirty Semiotics reveals language in its foetal state. Unborn and still connected to the womb, these poems wriggle and squirm in the amniotic fluid of language. Ferguson delivers poetry swaddled in barcodes, collaged images and the strange sutures of meaning and message delivery. Dirty Semiotics passes the Apgar test of poetry and yelps in a newborn language.
—derek beaulieu

In the creation of visual poetry […] to crack, stretch, and isolate letters, words, and found materials is to say, “Hi. I think you’re interesting; how do you work?” The estrangement of signifier and signified does not necessitate nihilism. Language has been buffeted, bastardized, and truncated in innumerable ways, and yet it persists. The fact that I can’t put it back together again doesn’t trouble me at all; I like language, even with its stitches and scars showing. With the underlying impetus identified, we must ask that perennial question of visual poetics—what, if anything, does such poetry “mean”? It has been suggested by some that it should mean nothing, that it should carry the viewer outside the realm of standard signification, which has been tainted by its association with commerce. In this view, visual poetry would function in a similar way to the Buddhist koan, producing flashes of non-meaning, of enlightenment. —Jesse Patrick Ferguson

Jesse Patrick Ferguson has lived in Cornwall and Ottawa, Ontario; Fredericton, New Brunswick; and Sydney, Cape Breton. He has published visual and lyric poems in ten countries, in both print and online formats. Recently, his writing appeared in Canadian Literature, Drunken Boat, Prairie Fire, Dusie (Suisse), The Walrus, Poetry (USA), and Harper’s (USA). His work has also been anthologized in Best Canadian Poetry in English 2009, edited by A. F. Moritz. Jesse has helped edit several Canadian literary journals including The Fiddlehead. In fall 2009 he published his first full-length collection of lyric poetry, Harmonics (Freehand Books). He is also a PhD candidate at the University of New Brunswick, a folk singer and multi-instrumentalist.

Music video: “Scots Wha Hae”

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