ars poetica


by Ken Taylor

Give blood. Play hockey.
— Unknown

hockey pucks are frozen prior to each game. this cuts down resistance & lets them travel further without sticking. freezing also reduces how pucks bounce during play. one crucial feature of a hockey stick affecting puck control is the curvature of the blade. this bending acts as a centring device permitting players to impart spin. giving the puck gyroscopic stability during flight.

hockey questions the precarious nature of where verity dwells. where poems can stretch across planes of museum façades like PVC painted to look like birch. noting how words are warped & distorted by concealed powers that wield a telescope too tall to look thru. testing comedy positive. existing independent of names. stumbling on a gesture that’s a flag they embrace.

to avoid turning from rivals, players skate backwards using slippage. never losing contact with surface in a mirrored push & glide. performing curiosity & focusing on feel, they seek a lie angle that puts their blade flat on ice. to release stored energies in pursuit of complex histories. even if cupidity sends arrows to question not where the puck is but where the poem will be.

hockey invites X to reconsider work that repeats sameness as not the same. as repurposing a single purpose that slows down production of shaping. focused repetition is key to moving from slap shot to collage. the answer can arrive before the question’s asked. the dispersed can move as one. the moon is mute until skates speak for it. winter is a contact sport. & where X pushes off with a force perpendicular to their edge spurs velocity.

but their speed tops out by how fast they move their feet. rushing forward, it’s better to crouch in the direction of motion that creates counter-torque approaching the absurd. but relevant to lived experience. belief & balance are key. what’s learned outside is brought in. to be all at once with the viewer probing exhibition space with freshly oiled arranging.

X extends past limits of gristle to explore pressure. past pushback from their figure to coil or wilt. their body yields mind. their mind, bodying. with a vigour to escape removes from them as subject. to appease dissonance. to steer clear of self with properties of boundlessness. inviting others into the lens of them. intermeshing without pattern. combining slashing with text to expose & undercut adjacency.

messengered gender arrives like an emissary delivering dash. & queer with respect to any torso named in a meta-critique of ways. noises. signage. the tug of other clusters. sidewalk scraps of last night’s corn & crab. margins not standing in for terrified. glossing in a single style agenda. these are esoteric entries into qualia. a different set of faces fronting a different set of forms.

monitoring cloud threats & internet stalks when trash is captured with every f-stop. toppling X by topping X from the bottom. to release into predatory headlines to see fiction meeting friction. hockey occupies several realms — the aesthetic & transcendent, the commodified & priceless — stressing that even within a cultural scene shaped by image & ingestion, poetry persists.

bridging the worlds of hockey & art, they grill capital but partake in consuming. X is asked to live in the arena with other bodies. with singular behaving during a regulating time. to be construed adverbially across transgressive dissections. to interlace with spotlessness by synthetic depicting. by an intimate role with sure, let’s call it overly sexual iconography — to shoot to score.

it’s the season of you or someone you know thinking suicide. if you’re failing, you’re writing. why not carry moves from painting to painting with brushes not free of old colours? throw a pot from no idea. put a wrong stroke on work. allude to bafflements in the irritable reach for dear. listen to borrowed. pin brittle to the wall. push thru the poem to another reason. to veer is to endure. to swerve is to make. not arriving is the goal.

About the Author

Ken Taylor is author of “first the trees, now this” (2013), “dog with elizabethan collar” (2015), “self-portrait as joseph cornell” (2016) and  “aeromancy garage” (2020). He is the founder and editor of selva oscura press.

Details on the Text

A version of this essay will appear in “variations in the dream of X”.

Image Rights

Top image is a detail from Doug Zwick: Pond Hockey Rink, 2013 (CC). Post image is a detail from WherezJeff: Empty Net, 2013 (CC).

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