Christian Bök

Christian Bök, in the opinion of many, including me, is an amazing Canadian poet. He published the book Eunoia in 2001, which was claimed to be “Canada’s best-selling poetry book ever.” I personally think is an appropriate title, seeing how it took him 7 years to write.

In this book, Christian uses only one vowel in each of its five chapters. In the book’s main part, each chapter used just a single vowel. In order to successfully write this book, Christian had to read the dictionary 5 times, compiling his own list of vocabulary words essential for his completion of the book.

Curious to learn more about what Mr. Bök was doing, I quickly went onto Youtube to see if he did any interviews. Low and behold, I found this.
While watching this video, Christian began talking about his new project the Xenotext Experiment. He was talking about genetic codes and poetry.

‘Ho- . . . what? ‘ (was my initial reaction to this news)

Once again, driven by curiosity, I quickly googled his experiment, and came up with this link. Apparently, Mr. Bök plans to create a poem in the form of a genetic sequence and insert it into a strain of bacteria. This bacterium will not only carry that sequence around with it, but give us the opportunity to reclaim that sequence and decipher its meaning. Bök also intends to have this encoded poem be a set of instructions that will allow the organism to build a protein, where yet another original poem can be found. Christian Bök basically gives a bacterium a poem and receives one back in response. Cool right?

I’ve got to say, this Canadian poet is very different from the others. Yes, he is clever and witty and comes up with amazing poems, just like many other poets, but there is something relatively different from his work, if we were to compare. Christian seems to take on huge challenges that others would quickly disregard or label ‘too hard’.

His friends and fellow poets were probably a huge influence on him and his drive to do what he does. Micah Lexier, a Canadian artist collaborated with Bök to produce this piece of art, that was displayed on a window of a store in Toronto.

I’ve said this at the beginning of this investigation, and I’ll say it again. Christian Bök is an amazing Canadian poet.


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