Bök, Christian Charles
Christian Charles Bök, né Book, poet, anthologist, performer, artist (b at Etobicoke, Ont 1 Oct 1969). One of the country's leading experimental writers, Christian Bök was educated at Carleton University (BA English 1989, MA English 1990) and York University (PhD English 1998). Bök's stated aim is that each of his works be unusual and radically different from its predecessor.
His first book, Crystallography: Book I of Information Theory (1994, rev 2003), collects various forms of poetry, diagrams, charts, and equations around the pseudo-scientific idea that language is a process of crystallization. Bök continues to explore this philosophy in 'Pataphysics: The Poetics of an Imaginary Science (2001), a consideration of French writer Alfred Jarry's influence on the poetry of the 20th century.
Bök's most ambitious work, Eunoia (2001), takes its cue from the Oulipo, a group of French writers interested in overcoming different forms of literary constraint. The book centers on a series of five narratives, each employing a single vowel. "Chapter E," a retelling of The Iliad, contains a thematic thread found in all the narratives: an allusion to the art of writing, a description of a culinary banquet, a scene of debauchery, and a nautical voyage. In the work, Bök surmounts additional constraints, among them the suppression of the letter Y. The result of seven years' work, the book became a bestseller and was awarded the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize.
Bök has edited Ground Works: Avant-Garde for Thee (2002), an anthology of Canadian literary experimentation published between 1965 and 1985. His interest in and promotion of the avant-garde extends beyond this published work to his performances as a sound poet. Bök's conceptual art consists of books constructed out of Lego bricks and Rubik's cubes. His most commercial and accessible work has been his creation of artificial languages for the television series Earth: Final Conflict and Amazon.