There is a certain voyeuristic pleasure in these poems; they fittingly feel like reading someone’s diary, and part of the drive to keep reading is the promise of discovery. — Montreal Review of Books, Québec
It all feels oddly old-fashioned, like one of the forgotten Beats. — The Sound Projector, UK
The 35 poems found on Solitary Pleasures come from a daybook of poems written between April 26, 2004 and April 25, 2005. The poems speak of the obsessions, phantasies and encounters of Anderson’s life. Michel F Côté, Sam Shalabi and Alexandre St-Onge accompany the readings with a noisy orchestration of electronic and acoustic sources. Short spurts of polyrythmic muscle and glistening sonic excitations come together, unfolding in salutary liberation, solitary pleasures.
- Label: &records
- ET 15 / 2011
- Total duration: 48:12
- 130 mm × 130 mm × 3 mm
- 30 g
- Label: &pages
- ETPAGES AVRIL / 2011
- ISBN 9782981285706
- Perfect binding
- 215 mm × 140 mm × 8 mm
- 150 g
- 86 pages
Some recommended items
In the press
[…] While most of us are accustomed to reading short bits of text these days (140 characters, anyone?), many are nonetheless unaccustomed to the pace and attention required by the short bits of text that make up most poetry. Consequently, some poets are finding innovative methods to trip up the reader and demand a more considered interaction with the text. Fortner Anderson’s Solitary Pleasures is as much an art book as a poetry book, and haphazard typeface is the approach it uses to slow down the reader. Designer Fabrizio Gilardino has stamped each page by hand, letter by letter, using different font sizes and letter cases. He then altered the text digitally to create or preserve the appearance of errors and edits. The resulting text is impossible to scan like conventional printing. It must be studied and is, in fact, a bit hard on the eyes. Its unevenness mimics handwriting, making the words more like images, forcing us, almost like new readers, to proceed slowly and meticulously.
The poems themselves, taken from Anderson’s 2004 daybook, chronicle the mundanity of daily life, punctuated by moments of clarity, awe, or lament. “I did seventy five crunche / nude / before breakfast,” begins the entry from July 19th. Later the same day, the speaker and a friend discuss how one can never know the mind “and must remain / content / with an evershifting vantage / as we look into from the shadows / which we longingly call / ourselves.” There is a certain voyeuristic pleasure in these poems; they fittingly feel like reading someone’s diary, and part of the drive to keep reading is the promise of discovery. That promise doesn’t always pay off, but here that unevenness feels immediate and true. (…)
An Aerie Skit
Two more of the items from the & Records label of Montréal which arrived here 20 January 2012. The record Ave W (&10) is credited to Tiari Kese, who apparently plays all the instruments — keyboards, French horn, electronics and samples, but it’s more likely to be all the work of Michel F Côté, who’s a Canadian electro-acoustic composer. A biography of alleged Bulgarian Tiari Kese can be found online, but with its Stockhausen, Beatles and Debord connections it’s all too good to be true and is probably just another internet hoax. The record does have one glorious track title, Dreams of Spartacus’s Spacecraft, but I mostly found it a rather turgid listen, directionless and shapeless digital layers of drone that amount to less and less the more they’re piled up. The instrument-playing has been processed and denormalised to an extreme degree, sucking the humanity out of everything until we’re left with echoed and orphaned horn tones floating aimlessly on a sea of samples, light distortion and glitch.
The City Wears a Furry Hat
Even less enjoyable is Solitary Pleasures (&records &15) by Fortner Anderson. It comprises several short 90-second vocal recits by the poet Anderson while accompanied by electro-acoustic noise played by a non-jazz trio of Alexandre St-Onge, Sam Shalabi, and Michel F Côté again, this time playing the drums. The release accompanies a book of poems published at the same time. We’ve encountered Fortner Anderson before in TSP15 where we noted the baffling Six Silk Purses, recordings of his spoken word exploits provided to sound artists to add their musical interpretations; in fact the same musicians were on that release too. Fortner’s short couplets are expressed here in diary form, each segment beginning with a calendar date announced in solemn tones, before proceeding with his free-form observations such as “I had forgotten the calculus of transcendence…”, alternating with mini-stories about life in the city and the characters he meets. It all feels oddly old-fashioned, like one of the forgotten Beats. Fortner attempts some jazzy syncopation in his delivery, even as the music drags itself along like a three-legged dog on a hot afternoon. Kenneth Patchen it ain’t.
Poet Fortner Anderson pads about the city burning with hope, crying into his notebook and laughing out the side of his sidewalks. His new collection — a daybook titled Solitary Pleasures — takes twin form as both an intricately printed book and a CD featuring recorded recitations of 35 poems on a bed of musical nails. Fingernails bitten, painted, cracked, searching. The sound and echo of the city and its solitary pleasures, as painted by this sweet-singing adventurer of the everyday.
Read, first — each page, each word, each letter carefully handcrafted and pressed by designer Fabrizio Gilardino — the melodic honesty of these blunt and blushing snapshot poems delights, invites, launching tiny fireworks with words of fire. Compassionate. Carnivalesque. Curious.
Listened to, later — Fortner’s rasp supported by the lucid musical dreams of Alex St-Onge (bass), Sam Shalabi (electric guitar) and Michel F Coté (drums and microphones), these same poems turn bleak, amidst liminal harmonic musings they hector and hurt. Contemptuous. Coruscating. Cutting.
The city wrestles with hard feeling. The poet strolls into scene after scene licking up scattered personal truths like hits of acid. We share his trips via the ear, the eye, transforming solitary pleasures into momentary mutual metamorphoses.
Diary of a year in verse / Spring and summer months over-represented / Anderson’s declarative voice backed by minimalist noise trio / Shalabi, guitar / St-Onge, sensitive bass and electronics / Côté, drums and eerie microphone feedback / Daily mundane observations / Bodily functions, scenes on sidewalks, cats in the park / Alternate with metaphysical ramblings / Friend’s experience with chemotherapy / Very Montréal / Weather references / Drive to the country / Talk of the Casa, Pharmaprix and drinking. 8/10
A nice recording made at Studio 270 with poet Fortner Anderson reciting and inhabiting his poems (presented as excerpts from a diary), backed by improvisers Michel F Côté, Alexandre St-Onge, and San Shalabi — almost Klaxon Gueule. Dark texts and creaking music.
Some entirely different is the music of Fortner Anderson, although its better to say the poetry and a bit of music of the person in question. We have reviewed his work before. Here a work of thirty-five short pieces, like a diary. Each piece starts with a date introduction and something about that date, along with improvised music of Michel F Côté, Sam Shalabi and Alexandre St-Onge on drums, guitar and electronics. Unlike Six Silk Purses: The Poems Of Fortner Anderson, this has however less variation in the execution. The voice is the same throughout and the music is all highly freely improvised. Some of these poems are quite nice, or even funny and sometimes sad (about a friend on chemo) but I wonder if I rather read the book (which is apparently also available, but I didn’t see it) and hear the music separately, but perhaps I am just not that much a poetry kind of guy. Or a CD single would be more in place and not one that lasts forty-eight minutes.
Intrigante proposition que celle-là. Du spoken-word, très proche de la poésie du quotidien, petites vignettes supportées par une orchestration simple de musique électronique et acoustique. La voix est juste, posée, pénétrante, la musique post-industrielle, rêche… très bon!