Early Warning Systems: Inflammatory Poetry by Six Montreal Poets

Asa Boxer
Anita Lahey
Vincent Charles Lambert
Rosalie Lessard
Thomas Mainguy
Carmine Starnino

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Maxwell-Cummings Auditorium
1379 Sherbrooke Street West

October 29, 2010 - 7:00 pm


DHC/ART Foundation is proud to present Early Warning Systems: Inflammatory Poetry by Six Montreal Poets, a bilingual event to honour American artist Jenny Holzer whose powerful exhibition is currently on view at DHC/ART.

In her recent work, Holzer uses declassified US government documents to make silkscreen paintings or LED sculptures that bring to light secret narratives while they bear witness to the atrocities of war and the way those atrocities are censored or “redacted.”

The October 29 poetry reading, which will take place in the Maxwell-Cummings Auditorium at the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montreal, promises to be a fitting tribute to a major artist whose work has often drawn on poetry in its exploration of what Holzer calls “rapturous writing”, most famously and memorably seen in Inflammatory Essays, 100-word manifestos which ventriloquize extreme religious or political ideologies.

But Montreal poets also have an intimate understanding of Holzer’s themes. No other Canadian city, after all, so completely dramatizes her main insight: that, under certain conditions, the most ordinary words can become weapons. The gifted young poets DHC/ART has assembled—Asa Boxer, Anita Lahey, Carmine Starnino, Thomas Mainguy, Rosalie Lessard, Vincent Charles Lambert (three anglophones and three francophones) live in a polyglot zone where language is impossible to take for granted. They register this political reality, and its potential volatility, in bold poems brimming with humour, paradox and grit.

Early Warning Systems: Inflammatory Poetry by Six Montreal Poets will provide a new perspective on the linguistic soundscape that has helped make Montreal the country’s poetic capital.

This event is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Jenny Holzer on at DHC/ART until November 14.

Free admission

Limited number of seats: first come, first seated.


Asa Boxer is a poet, critic and essayist. He won first prize in the 2004 CBC/enRoute poetry competition, and his debut The Mechanical Bird (Signal Editions, 2007) was awarded the Canadian Author’s Association Poetry Award. A new collection Caveat Emptor is due out in Spring 2011.

Anita Lahey’s first book Out to Dry in Cape Breton (Signal Editions, 2006) was nominated for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry and the Ottawa Book Award. The editor of Arc Poetry Magazine, she is also a journalist who has been nominated three times for the National Magazine Awards. A new collection of poems is due out in Spring 2011.

Vincent Charles Lambert lives in Saint-Philémon, on the south shore of Quebec City. He is currently writing a dissertation on nineteenth-century Quebec poetry and is also interested in the epic and the chronicle as genres. He has published a collection of poems at Les éditions du Lézard amoureux of which he recently became literary director.

In 2006 Rosalie Lessard won the Prix littéraire Radio-Canada for Petit guide des volcans d’Amérique. Her second collection of poems, La chair est un refuge plus poignant que l’espace, was published the following year. While writing a dissertation on feminist poetry in Quebec (1970-1989) at UQÀM, she teaches literature at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf.

Thomas Mainguy grew up in Quebec City. In 2009 he published 2009 Totem (Enterre-moi), an artist book produced in collaboration with the painter and engraver François Vincent, at Les Éditions du Braquet, which he also co-founded. He recently joined the editorial board of the literary magazine Contre-jour and is working on a collection of poems tentatively titled Les veilleurs.

Carmine Starnino has published four books of poetry, the most recent of which is This Way Out (Gaspereau Press, 2009) nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry. His poems have won the F.G. Bressani Literary Prize, the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry and the Canadian Authors Association Poetry Award.


© 2010
Jenny Holzer
member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Photo: Attilio Maranzano