Guernica Editions • Essential Poets
O, But what shall I tell you? What is there worth being told? The future will be luminous and reckless
At the core of the dry and purposeful language of Library Science and the Rules of Archival Practice is an Orwellian impulse that serves as a lens through which to consider what Hannah Arendt famously called “the banality of evil.” The Perfect Archive is a story in verse about an archivist who moves beyond his role as protector and cataloguer of others’ work and begins to question the very nature of a “pure and accurate” archive. The role of a government Archivist is to organize and catalogue books, statutes, and memoranda. What happens when these documents are weaponized?
Paul Lisson’s debut book of poetry is AVAILABLE NOW!
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To my wife, the artist Fiona Kinsella.
Sincere thanks to Michael Mirolla, Connie McParland, and Guernica Editions for their vision and support of this project.
Thanks as well to Rafael Chimicatti for his collaborative work on the design of this book.
The book’s illustrations are from my series Zeit Gestoppte / Time Stopped first exhibited at Petteplace Gallery. A version of “Figure 3 [Der Engel]” is owned by the Art Gallery of Hamilton as part of their permanent collection. The death mask pictured in “Figure 1 illus Snsf Special Negatives A04 Im Winter” was made by my sister, Denise Lisson.
This work benefited from close reading and comments from Simon Richards and Sima Rabinowitz.
Judith Fitzgerald, R. Bruce Elder, Harold Klunder, Jason Avery, Patricia Lisson, and Mark Mavrinac responded to these poems creatively and with generosity.
For their teaching: Richard Landon (1942-2011), Francess Halpenny (1919-2017), and Desmond Neill (1924-2012) at the University of Toronto. Thomas E. Willey (1934-1996), Robert H. Johnston (1937-2005), Graham Roebuck, Richard Rempel, and, (not listed in the first print edition), David Barrett at McMaster University.
For their listening: David Forsee (1944-2017), Peter Stevens (1963-2015) and Vesna Trkulja-Stevens, Sheila Sammon and Robert B. Munroe, Rob Stevens.
For knowing where the line breaks and for the poems he has written: Nelson Ball.
The text on the cover of this book was created with a 1930s era German made Olympia “Progress” typewriter. Thanks to Nick Kadak at Sigma Typewriters for his knowledge, expertise, and skill in keeping my machines in good shape.
“Will Not Wash” Rampike Vol. 23 / No. 1 Conflict &/or Concord.
“Awaiting the arrival of the butcher” first published in an article by Judith Fitzgerald, The Globe and Mail online. Reprinted in Rampike Vol. 21/No. 2.
“Cartesian Melody,” “Ancien Régime,” “Instruments de Recherche,” “The Station Guard,” The Beloit Poetry Journal Vol. 59 No. 1.
The Marginalia accompanying Poem 26 “green flames/red flames” makes reference to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. [First published in Blackwood’s Magazine (Edinburgh, UK) (Feb 1899 — Apr 1899). Collected as “Heart of Darkness” in Youth, a Narrative; and Two Other Stories published by William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1902.]
I acknowledge the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario, for supporting this project through the Grants for Writers program.
Paul Lisson would like to acknowledge the generous support of the OAC’s Recommender Grants for Writers Program. The Ontario Arts Council is an Ontario Government Agency.