‘Igor, start the machine’


A couple of months ago in Paris, I took a walk one morning to the grave of one of my heroes Francis Picabia. A Cubist painter and Dadaist poet, Picabia published two of the most ingenuous literary journals – 391 and Cannibale (there are some copies of the former here). Whilst other graves in the city are draped in flowers or lipstick kisses, I pictured Picabia’s grave as untended and unkempt, the name slowly cruelly eroding at the hands of the philistine elements. This seemed an insult too far. I resolved to visit it. Unfortunately, given that my navigation skills and command of the French language are imbecilic at best, my directions took me to the entirely wrong cemetery and I ended up instead at the tombstone of the otherwise-fascinating drink-embalmed painter Maurice Utrillo. For reasons that are too lengthy and unfortunate to recount, I never made it to the right grave. Given Picabia had been a Surrealist for a time, I hope he’d have found attending the wrong grave to pay him tribute somehow fitting.

The poet Dave Lordan recently interviewed me on experimental literature and the future of writing, which is why Picabia sprang to mind. You can read the piece in full here. If you’re in Dublin and enjoy literature (experimental or otherwise), check out the Circa Words weekend (June 14-15 at The Irish Writers Centre) featuring Lordan and my comrades from Gorse, and the forthcoming Blast at 100 symposium (July 2 at Trinity). There’s another understated literary festival in the city coming up soon, based around some degenerate writer of godless filth and portmanteaus (sadly not Beckettsday). Being in the woods of Fife at the moment, writing and waging war on nature, I will sadly miss these but I’m plotting to resurrect some of the spirit and methods of Picabia and co with some projects next year, all going to plan. More about those acts of folly in good time…

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