Last month, B.C.’s Simon Fraser University announced the life work of Canadian writer and poet Adeena Karasick would be added to its Bennett Library Contemporary Literature Collection. The collection focuses on 20th century avant-garde, experimental, formally innovative and “underground” writing in English, most of it poetry. Karasick was a great fit, according to Tony Power, curator of the collection. “Her language is intensely playful and she’s very much a media and performance artist,” he reflected. “We wanted her work because she’s closely associated with a lot of the poets we’ve collected including Warren Tallman, her mentor at the University of British Columbia, and bill bissett.”
Karasick is co-founder of the KlezKanada Poetry Retreat.
Read about it in the Canadian Jewish News: JEWISH POET ADEENA KARASICK’S WORK ADDED TO SFU SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
Karasick is a New York based, Canadian poet, cultural theorist, media ecologist and author of seven books of poetry and poetics; a multimedia arts practitioner with work that includes videopoems, live and recorded pechakucha regularly screened at festivals, conferences and in classrooms worldwide. Born in 1965, in Winnipeg Manitoba, to Russian immigrant parents, she became dedicated to the play of language as a powerful tool for transformation and change.Writing at the intersection of Conceptualism and neo-Fluxus performatics, her urban, Jewish feminist mashups have been described as “electricity in language” (Nicole Brossard) and noted for their “cross-fertilization of punning and knowing, theatre and theory” (Charles Bernstein) “a twined virtuosity of mind and ear which leaves the reader deliciously lost in Karasick’s signature “syllabic labyrinth” (Craig Dworkin). Most recently is Salome: Woman of Valor (University of Padova Press, 2017), the libretto of the opera she has created with Frank London, which rereads the apocryphal legend through a feminist Kabbalistic lens; transposing her from villainess to freedom fighter, and will debut at the Chutzpah Festival, February, 2018.
Karasick grew up in Vancouver, BC where she studied with Warren Tallman at UBC received her BA in English (1988) and moved to Toronto to work, study and perform with poets, bill bissett and bpNichol. Receiving her MA from York University (1991), and a Ph.D in Kabbalah and Derrida at Concordia University (Montreal), and enjoyed a close friendship with Jacques Derrida for the 10 years prior to his death. Her doctoral dissertation, “Of Poetik Thinking: A ‘Pataphysical Investigation of Cixous, Derrida and the Kabbalah” established her as a foremost Kabbalah scholar, recently cited as the “Kabbalah Kohenet (High Priestess), morah (teacher) and scholar” (Stephen Pickering, Kabbalah Fractals Project). Karasick went on to publish 8 books that incorporate these teachings and a love of language, and has been the generous recipient of numerous awards and grants including Canada Council for the Arts Grant for Professional Writers (2010), Canada Council for the Arts, Spoken Word and Storytelling Program Award (2010, 2008, 1999), Canada Council for the Arts Travel Awards (2011, 2009, 2008, 2003, 2002), Canadian External Affairs Award (1998, 1997, 1994, 1993, 1992), Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Award, for Amuse Bouche (2006), for The House That Hijack Built, (2005, 2004), Best Book of 2012, Daily Forward for This Poem (2012), Best Book of 2009 for Amuse Bouche (AboutBooks.com), Exuberance is Beauty Book Award for Amuse Bouche, 2009, ReLit Award for Dyssemia Sleaze, 2000, Bumbershoot Book Fair Award, “Most Adventurous Publication” for Dyssemia Sleaze, 2000, British Columbia Book Award (Silver) for Mêmewars (1994), and in 2008, at Book Expo America, received the MPS Mobile Award (For being the World’s First “Mobile Poet”), whereby her work was made available on over 4 billion mobile devices (cell phones and Smart Phones including the iPhone, all Blackberry, Android and Symbian devices) throughout the world, 2008. She is a 2016 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award recipient and winner of the 2016 Voce Donna Italia award for her contributions to feminist thinking. For the past 30 years she has taught at a number of American and European Institutions, including Fordham University, St. John’s University, and at the Gutenberg Universität Mainz as “The Mainz Scholar”. She is presently Visiting Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute in New York, and is the Poetry Co-coordinator for Klezkanada Poetry Retreat, an International Festival for Language, Music and Culture, held in the Laurentian Mountains. Her books have been received as both poetry and hybrid-genre essays on writing and interpretive technologies, and have been adopted in both English and Media Studies Departments, including University of Minnesota, University of Pennsylvania, Simon Fraser University, McGill University, the Ontario College of Art and Design, Rutgers University, The Gutenberg Universität Mainz and Bath Spa University in the UK. In them, she brings an urban, feminist aesthetic, infused with a collage of academic and pop cultural idioms to bear on the process of writing as a radical grafting of links and perversions conjugated at the threshold of dissociation, questioning many consumerist assumptions about language and normative procedures of meaning production.Karasick’s work has been featured in a wide variety of national and international journals, anthologies and blog sites, has been the subject of over 80 interviews (on television, radio and in print) and “inserts itself amongst the corpus of texts that are changing, and being changed by, contemporary pedagogies” (Canadian Literature).Her large-scale performance, Salomé: Woman of Valor, incorporating, poetry, history, theory, visual projections Klezmer-Bhangra live music (compositions by Frank London), and Tribal Belly Dancers, which re-visions the Apocryphal story of Salomé through a feminist perspective debuted at the Tribeca New Music Festival in May of this year in New York to a wildly receptive sold out audience. Stemming from an ethnic heritage of nomadicism, exile, and infusion, Karasick remains dedicated to extending the notion of the book – whether through hybrid-style essays which include full-color mash-ups and collage, a variety of typefaces and multiple covers, or through new technologies which combine, multi-media, enriched graphics; or text based performances, incorporating visual projections and electronic music; exploring ways language, as both a physical and material object and as medium of transference can be brought into a public space highlighting interactive creativity. In this last year alone, Karasick has given hundreds of public lectures and performances, including presentations at the Institute of General Semantics, the 74th New York State Communication Association Conference, the Electronic Literature Organization Conference and Media Art Festival 2016 at the University of Victoria, Victoria, BC., the 74th Annual New York State Communication Association Conference, the 17th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association, University of Pennsylvania, University of Bologna, DISCI (Dipartmento Storia Culture Civiltà), Bologna, Italy; the annual meeting of the Media Ecology Association, the annual meeting of the New York State Communication Association, and Book Expo America 2016, recognizing her as being “the future of E-Books.” (Kathleen Sweeney); opening up the possibilities for re-visoning language as a performance, as theatre, and how that language, with all its power and sublimity, its (in)finite permutation and combination, is inseparable from our lives. She teaches for the Humanities and Media Studies Dept. at Pratt University in New York.