ARCHIVE – Christian Bök

The Xenotext

ARCHIVE – Christian Bök

Christian Bök is the author of Eunoia, which won the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize and is the best-selling Canadian poetry book of all time. His previous books are Crystallography, a pataphysical encyclopedia nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award for Best Poetic Debut, and Pataphysics: The Poetics of an Imaginary Science. Bök has created artificial languages for Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict and Peter Benchley’s Amazon. His conceptual artwork has appeared at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York City as part of the exhibit Poetry Plastique. He currently teaches at the University of Calgary.

The Xenotext: Book 1

Enciphered in a bacterium, The Xenotext is the world’s first living poem. Christian Bök has spent more than 10 years writing what promises to be the first example of ‘”living poetry.” After successfully demonstrating his concept in a colony of E. coli, Bök is on the verge of enciphering a beautiful, anomalous poem into the genome of an unkillable bacterium (Deinococcus radiodurans), which can, in turn, ‘read’ his text, responding to it by manufacturing a viable, benign protein, whose sequence of amino acids enciphers yet another poem. The engineered organism might conceivably serve as a post-apocalyptic archive, capable of outlasting our civilization.

The Found Poetry Review review

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