In the summer of 2009, poets Stephen Collis and Jordan Scott traveled to five distinct ecosystems in British Columbia, leaving a single copy of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species to decay for a year in each remote outdoor location. A year later the texts were retrieved, photographed and documented, and worked into Decomp, an extended photoÂ?essay and prose poem. The poets allowed nature to make 'selections' from Darwin'stext, via decomposition. Each distinct ecosystem offered a different 'reading' of (and through) the rotting book's pages. As evolution works, in Timothy Morton's words, 'Â?through constant rewritings of the DNA sequence,' so the poets found themselves faced with a constantly rewritten Darwin. The final text is 'made up of all kinds of viral code insertions so you can't tell which bit is original.'
Through colourful photo reproductions and prose meditations on their found texts, Collis and Scott have produced a work that moves beyond the typical dualisms of nature and writing Â? dualisms still active in Darwin's own book.
Stephen Collis is an awardÂ?-winning poet, activist and professor of contemporary literature at Simon Fraser University. His poetry books include Anarchive, The Commons, On the Material (awarded the BC Book Prize for Poetry) and the forthcoming To the Barricades.
Jordan Scott is the author of Silt, which was nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, and Blert. Blert was adapted into a short film for Bravo! and was the subject of an online interactive documentary commissioned by the National Film Board of Canada.
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