The Primordial Density Perturbation

Stephen Collis is the author of Mine (2001), two parts of the ongoing Barricades Project—Anarchive (2005) and The Commons (2008)—and two books of criticism: Through Words of Others: Susan Howe and Anarcho-Scholasticism (2006) and Phyllis Webb and the Common Good (2007). His most recent book, On the Material (2010), won the 2011 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. A long-standing member of the Kootenay School of Writing, he teaches poetry, poetics and American literature at Simon Fraser University.


The Primordial Density Perturbation
By Stephen Collis • June 2011 • $3
Design by Eric Butler

This is a small book about catastrophe. Catastrophes in play are environmental, political, cultural. Vancouver poet, Stephen Collis, makes quick weaves of contemporary language—lexicons of fashion, violence, economics, media-speak, poetics, disaster. His word-sprint reveals the paradoxical richness and paucity of our lingo, rich in material, yet poverty-stricken as a solution-narrative to what ails us. A formidable poet-critic, Collis writes critical poetry about the contemporary world, pulling in with his seine everything from Tahrir Square to the Pacific plastic patch. It’s quite a catch.

from The Primordial Density Perturbation:

It’s the events we lumpen
struggle agro-crop to
imagine the woops of
primordial density perturbation
or instant class consciousness
you know sea all swelly
of a sudden the perfect
heterotropic ship running
guns for governments or it’s
kefayas! all around Tahrir Square
up-thrust subduction no
two party system but
where did anything come from
and how like curtains
round a wizard ignore that man
tear it off this gauze from
eyes this false separation of
individuals we in this y’all
crap thrown fast from
unheard explosions


Read Tinfish Editor Susan Schultz’s commentary on Collis’s earlier work on the Tinfish Editor’s Blog.

Read an interview with Collis in 12 or 20 Questions.

Read Stephen Collis’s own commentary page in Jacket2.

Check out the journal The Poetic Front, edited by Collis.

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